How To Become a Better Job Interviewer

Posted January 7, 2015

The bad news: you've probably conducted some pretty bad interviews. The good news: it's easy to get better, even without formal training. Here are seven tips for conducting good interviews and increasing your chances of making a good hire:

  • Know Exactly What Position You're Hiring For Before You Start

That seems obvious, doesn't it? But knowing about the position means more than just knowing the title, the salary and the supervisor. Conduct a thorough job analysis before posting the job. If you can, interview the person who currently holds the position to find out what they really do. If that's not possible, look at everything involved in the job from working conditions to teammates to responsibilities—not just tasks but level of accountability. For example, in this role will the employee deal more with people, data, or tangible objects? Is this customer-focused or does it serve internal teams?

  • Write the Meat, Not the Fluff

Rewrite the job description based on what you've learned. Ignore fluffy language about striving to reach potential or leading the company to success. What you really need is a description of what a typical week in this job looks like. Include whether there are times when the workload will be heavier, such as December for retailers or April for accountants. And don't leave out the negative aspects! Yes, you want to sell the opportunity to candidates, but you need to let them know the reality of the position so you—and they—will know if they're a good fit.

Now it's time to actually post the job, collect resumes and start the interviews. When you're sitting down with candidates:

  • Explain The Position Thoroughly

This is where your analysis and new job description will come in handy. You can let the candidate know as much as is practical about the position concisely. And remember—don't hold back on the boring parts. Give a complete picture.

  • Ask Meaningful Questions

Instead of just asking candidates to read through or rehash their resumes, ask them specific questions based on their past experiences. Try to drill down and get a good handle on what they did in the past, so you can hopefully discern whether they'll be likely to have success in your position.

  • Forget the Trick Questions

Thanks to Google and a couple of other well-respected employers, too many interviewers think they have to ask offbeat questions. Will you really learn anything useful by asking candidates how they would benefit from scissors if they delivered pizza? Instead, present candidates with one of the major challenges they'll face on this job and ask them how they would approach and hopefully solve it. If it's a complex challenge, send details to the candidate in an email a week or so before the interview and ask them to come and present their solutions. This will present you with a much clearer picture of how a candidate will help your business.

  • Focus Only on Relevant Skills

While your customer service manager needs good verbal communication and interactive skills, your back-end IT person doesn't. She needs technical skills to fix problems and manage software. Don't disqualify a candidate based on generic personal qualities that they might not need.

  • Ask Someone for a Second Opinion

To avoid making judgments based on your personal biases, however subconscious they may be, have at least one other person interview the candidates. Let each evaluator form an independent opinion, then compare notes.

Your goal is to hire the best people you possibly can, so your interviews need to be the best they possibly can. Try these tips, and if you still feel unsure about your ability to interview well, you can partner with Team Ambassador!