How Managers Can Prepare for a Job Interview

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By Robert Half August 20, 2019 at 5:55am

Conducting an interview looks easier than it is. As a result, many hiring managers take this step in the hiring process for granted. They don’t put in the time and effort that it really requires. And, above all, they don’t prepare enough. Here's a checklist of things hiring managers should do before conducting an interview:

1. Review the job description

Thoroughly familiarize yourself with the job description, especially its hiring criteria, even if you’ve drawn them up. Do they still accurately reflect the current requirements for the position? An effective job description consists of more than simply a laundry list of the duties that the job entails. It reflects a sense of priorities. In other words, it identifies those duties that are primary or essential, and if secondary or marginal duties are listed, it differentiates between the two.

A well thought-out job description:

  • Accurately outlines the applicable hiring criteria
  • Ensures that everyone who has a say in the hiring decision is on the same page with respect to what the job entails
  • Ensures that candidates have a clear idea of what the position requires if they’re hired and what success looks like

2. Review the job candidate's work history

Review everything the job candidate has submitted to date. That includes a resume, cover letter, online profile, and so on. Note any areas needing clarification or explanation, such as quirky job titles, gaps in work history, or hobbies that may reveal aspects of the candidate’s personality that can have a bearing on job performance.

3. Schedule it out

Set up a general structure for the interview. Create a basic schedule so that, as the meeting progresses, you’ll have enough time to cover all the key areas you want to address. Having a rough schedule to adhere to will help you begin and end the session on time, allowing you to be more efficient and show that you respect the candidate's time.

Try not to schedule job interviews in the middle of the day. The reason: You’re not likely to be as relaxed and as focused as you need to be, and you may have a tough time fighting off interruptions and distractions. The ideal time to interview candidates is early morning, before the workday kicks into high gear. You’re fresher then, and so is the candidate. If you have no choice, give yourself a buffer of at least 30 minutes before the interview so that you can switch gears and prepare for the interview in the right manner.

4. Prepare key interview questions

Write down the questions you intend to ask. Develop your questions from the areas of the candidate's background that deserve the most attention, based on the job description and your hiring criteria. It’s handy to have the list of questions during the interview, but be sure to maintain eye contact with the candidate during the conversation when you get to that point. Try to commit your interview questions to memory.

Vary the style of questions you ask. Closed-ended questions, for example, call for a simple, informational answer — often a yes or no — while open-ended ones require thought and oblige the candidate to reveal attitudes or opinions. Hypothetical questions invite the candidate to resolve an imaginary situation or react to a given situation.

5. Find a comfortable setting

Before conducting the interview, make arrangements to hold it in a room that's private and comfortable. Generally speaking, a conference room is a better place for conducting an interview than your office or cubicle area. Try to create a calm environment. Clear the desk and mute your phone so calls go to voicemail or are forwarded elsewhere.

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