Conducting a Successful Interview

3 men and women sit on the opposite side of a conference table in the background smiling at a young woman in the foreground who is looking over her shoulder at the camera smiling and giving a thumbs up

Conducting an interview can be stressful for both the interviewer and the applicant. Every company wants the perfect employee and to find that perfect employee, the interview must be the best interview possible. Here are some tips on how to interview an applicant properly and effectively.

1. Create an Agenda

According to the Wall Street Journal, managers should “prepare in advance” and “create an agenda” for the interview. Having an agenda will help guide the interview and help the applicant “know what to expect” during their interview. Additionally, the agenda will help set a timeline for the interview. Rebecca Knight from the Harvard Business Review suggests that you  accommodate to “a time that’s convenient [to the interviewee] and explain your organization’s dress code” for the interview.

2. Study Their Resume & Prepare

Prior to the interview, make sure to take some time to read the resume. An interviewer who doesn’t waste precious time reading the resume while the applicant sits their quietly, will have more time to ask questions and get to know the applicant. Learn their resume and make sure you’re prepared with the proper questions. In doing so, you will get the most out of the interview and the applicant.

3. Shift the Focus

An interview can be very daunting for the applicant and can put a lot of stress on the individual. John Sullivan, a professor of management at San Francisco State University, states that individuals “do not perform as well” when they are stressed. According to Forbes, a great way to help reduce the applicant’s stress level is to “begin with a question that focuses on the person” and not the job the applicant is applying for.  When you “humanize the interaction” by asking a question that is more personal, “you get a sense of the where the [applicant] is coming from.”

4. Ask 4 Types of Open Ended Questions

Cliché questions like “what are your strengths and weaknesses” are outdated. The Wall Street Journal suggests that you ditch the cliché questions and “come up with questions in four categories: fact-finding, creative-thinking, problem-solving and behavioral.” Fact finding questions help interviewers learn the applicant’s “experience, skills and credentials.” A great example of a fact-finding question is “who did you report to?” In addition to fact finding questions, challenge the applicant by asking them creative-thinking questions. Ask them about the industry and their views regarding the industry. Creative-thinking questions will help “demonstrate [the applicant’s] grasp of wider business trends.”  Additionally, provide the applicant with questions that the candidate can solve. For example, give the applicant a problem that your team is currently facing and see how the individual response. It will help you understand their way of thinking and their problem-solving skills. Lastly, ask the applicant behavioral questions that will help you understand how the applicant “acts in certain situations.” When you ask the right questions, you will have a fuller understanding of the applicant.

5. Be Attentive

An interviewer who listens to the applicant will be able to note the “highlights and things [they] want to follow-up on.” The Wall Street Journal suggests that you “take notes during the interview” to help guide you. Additionally, “pay attention to whether the employee is taking notes” to see if they are engaging. This will help you understand the applicant and will also help you ask for “additional information you might need” during the interview.

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