Conducting an interview with a job candidate seems easier than it is. And that's the problem. Many managers and small business owners think they know how to conduct a job interview and don't realize that the process must be structured and well-planned. Establishing a consistent, methodical approach is key.
Conducting an interview is one stage of the hiring process where preparation and structure are essential. By having a system in place that allows an objective standard on which to base your decisions, you'll overcome interviewing pitfalls and identify the best person for the position.
Knowing how to conduct an interview also means knowing how to prepare for the meeting. 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. Does it accurately reflect the current requirements for the position? If so, great. If it seems outdated, give it an update so you can focus on relevant criteria during the interview.
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2. Review the candidate's work history
Review everything the candidate has submitted to date: resume, cover letter and any additional materials. Note any areas needing clarification, 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 for the interview so that, as the meeting progresses, you reserve enough time to cover all the key areas you want to address. Adhering to a schedule 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.
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. Try to commit the questions to memory.
5. Meet in a comfortable setting
Before conducting an interview, be sure to make arrangements to hold it in a room that's private and reasonably comfortable. Generally speaking, a conference room is a better place for conducting an interview than your office. But if your office is your only option, try to create a calm environment. Clear your desk, close the door and mute your phone so calls go to voicemail or are forwarded elsewhere.