Job interviews are stressful for applicants. But they can be just as nerve-wracking when you’re the one conducting the interview, particularly if you’re a first-time manager.
Given the high costs of a bad hire, you need to make sure that you get everything right the first time so you don’t have to restart the hiring process. Here are eight job interview tips for new managers:
1. Set up for success. Time is precious, so don’t waste it interviewing candidates who are a poor fit for the role. Start by drafting an effective job description, which will help ensure you receive suitable resumes. It should list all the traits of an ideal candidate, including both technical and nontechnical skills, along with minimum qualifications. Clearly identifying job responsibilities and expectations can also weed out candidates who don’t match your needs. With an airtight job description in hand, it should also be easier to draft targeted interview questions.
2. Enlist help. Establish an interviewing team, including colleagues whose opinions you respect and employees who will work directly with the new hire. Your coworkers can help you whittle down the choices, and the employees can offer good judgments about how well the candidate’s personality will fit into their team.
3. Don’t rush into the interview. If you’re both nervous, you might want to start with a brief introduction to the company and an overview of the role. Then take some time to observe the applicant’s communication style with some icebreaker questions. And be sure to consider appearance, manners and any nonverbal cues that indicate enthusiasm (or lack of it) for the job.
4. Plan your inquiry. It’s essential to prepare a list of questions before the job interview. If you try to wing it, you might lose your focus or draw a blank. Having those interview questions right in front of you can help you retain control and get the most out of the discussion.
5. Ask the right questions. Use open-ended but direct questions that invite elaboration. Remember that you’re trying to elicit information that you can’t get from the application. For example, you might ask: “How do you structure your time?” or “Why did you leave your last job?” Behavioral questions are also good for digging deeper, such as: “Tell me about a time you had a problem with a coworker. How did you deal with it?”
6. Take notes. Jot down key points during the interview. After the candidate leaves, quickly add more substantial thoughts and impressions. When it comes time to discuss the candidates with fellow interviewers later, you’ll have these reminders to jog your memory, and you can have more fruitful discussions.
7. Act fast. The current demand for skilled talent means that top candidates have an advantage. So while you’re deliberating, your first choice may be considering other job offers. Once your interview team reaches a consensus and all the candidate's references check out, you need to extend an offer as soon as possible, or risk losing out to a competitor.
8. Plan to negotiate. Salary negotiations are now commonplace, so enter the talks fully prepared. That means deciding beforehand how high you’re willing to go and knowing when to walk away. You should also think creatively about nonmonetary perks. It helps to keep a few bargaining chips, like telecommuting privileges or more vacation time, in your back pocket for salary negotiations.
The Art of the Interview Process: Tips for Employers