Conducting an effective interview is predicated upon thorough preparation. Reviewing resumes, crafting job-appropriate and legally-acceptable questions, making note of areas to probe, and finalizing logistics establish the framework for a sound interview.
Once the interview is underway, there is more to it than simply asking questions and taking notes. There are subtle and significant ways to control the interview so that you have a consistent approach with each candidate. A repeatable, dependable interview structure creates an even playing field for all candidates; this will give you the information necessary for making an informed hiring decision.
Here are some pointers on how to conduct an effective interview that will enable you to hire quality talent:
Listen > Talk
Grilling the candidate with rapid-fire questions is sure to stress him/her out. While under stress, he/she may not be able to provide definitive answers. Without coherent responses, you won't be in a position to fairly and effectively evaluate candidates and hire quality talent. Give the candidate the opportunity to share his/her answers without interruption. If he/she is rambling on, gently redirect back to your original question.
Allow for Silence
Silence is part of the natural rhythm of any conversation. Don't indulge the urge to fill every void. Allow for silence when the candidate needs a brief pause to consider your question or just after he/she finishes answering. The candidate may have more to add when presented with a moment or two before being asked another question. A little silence throughout the interview can be a much-needed reprieve and it could solicit more information. That being said, silence should not be used as a scare tactic to make the candidate feel stressed or uncomfortable.
Ask Probing Questions
Probing questions help you to delve deeper into the candidate's knowledge, skills, and abilities. They help you clarify information and arrive at a complete answer. Probing questions should be framed open-endedly (Tell me about a time when you experienced difficulty on a team and what you did to overcome it) so you get insight into the candidate's thought process, decision-making abilities, and personality. Leading questions (You've never had any problems dealing with coworkers, have you?) and yes or no questions (Are you a good team player?) will pigeon-hole the candidate into a simple answer that doesn't determine if he/she really possesses the skills you're looking for.
Honestly Answer Candidate Questions
At the end of the interview, give the candidate an opportunity to ask you questions. An interview is a two-way street and the candidate deserves to learn more about the position and the company. As you answer questions, it is crucial to provide clear and accurate details about the job and company culture up front because the primary reason individuals fail after hire is due to a lack of organizational culture fit.
Following a consistent, structured interview process provides you with the information necessary to objectively assess candidates and select the individual with the right skills and personality.
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