It’s been one of those days filled with a million deadlines and hundreds of small crises, that you almost forgot about the interviews you’ve scheduled for an open position. While you may think you’ve got the upper hand here, you still want to be prepared.
Sure, the candidates are interested in the position, but it’s your job to sell them on it and ensure you are following the best steps to help you choose the right person for the job. Remember, during the interview process, candidates are deciding whether they want to work for you as much as you’re deciding whether to hire them. Great candidates don’t want to work for a manager that seems unorganized and uninterested in their time, or a company that doesn’t match their personal needs.
Here are eight tips for how to prepare for a job interview to help ensure you are set up for success as the interviewer.
1. Prepare a Thorough List of Job Responsibilities
This should be done far in advance of the interview process. In fact, before an applicant applies, they should know exactly what they’re applying for so as to not waste their time and yours. Define the job and the criteria and consider asking a team member in the position to help write this list, as they know best what it takes to do the job.
2. Extend Professional Courtesies
Ask the candidate if they had difficulties finding the office, offer them a glass of water and make sure they’re comfortable. This will ease their nerves and get the interview off to a great start.
3. Review the Candidate's Resume Before the Interview
This may seem obvious, but by taking the time to review the applicant’s resume ensures them that you’ve invested time in them and are prepared for a productive interview. Make sure you know which person you’re interviewing. Avoid “And your name is...” type questions. Nothing is more daunting than being able to see a stack of printed out resumes that aren’t yours.
4. Follow Legal Interviewing Guidelines
This is critical. During the interview, you’re asking lots of questions to get to know the applicant better. Some of these questions, like “where do you live?” may seem harmless, but are completely illegal. According to a CareerBuilder study done earlier this year, 1 in 5 hiring managers have unknowingly asked illegal questions. Additional findings state that after looking at a list of questions, 33% said they were unsure about the legality of certain questions.
We are not providing legal advice. Seek legal counsel to be sure to know what’s legal and what’s not for your company and industry.
5. Explain the Structure of the Interview
First start with a brief description of the company. Then you can outline the job duties and finally, ask the applicant questions. After that, the candidate will have the opportunity to ask you questions about the job. This sets up parameters of the interview, keeping both you and the applicant focused and knowing what to expect next.
6. Comprise Great Questions Applicable to the Job
There are many types of questions you can ask during an interview, but opened ended questions have long been a favorite of hiring managers. Familiarize yourself with their resume and customize your questions accordingly. Behavioural and situational questions are great ways to get a “well-rounded” view of the candidate’s experience and their decision-making approach.
These types of questions ask experience based, or past-oriented queries such as “When you were working at XYZ Company, you spearheaded the software migration. At what point did that migration become challenging and how did you handle it?” This shows that you did your homework, looking over their resume, and with such a tailored question, you’ve pinpointed a specific experience that you’re looking to hear more about.
This sounds simple, but as a busy manager, you’re more than likely juggling numerous projects at a time. It can be hard to put that all aside for an hour and focus your attention on the candidate. Keep in mind, just as you’re looking for non-verbal cues from the applicant, they’re looking for those unspoken signals from you, too. Be attentive, put down your phone and listen to what your potential employee has to say. Not only will listening give you a better idea as to who the candidate is, and if they’d be a good fit for the job, it gives that person the opportunity to shine.
8. Whether It's by Email or Phone, Follow-Up
Workopolis recently asked candidates how long it took for them to hear back about a job and discovered 43% of applicants never heard back. Following up to let the candidate know whether they got the job or not is a way to extend professional courtesy and offer closure to the interview process.
You’ve looked through hundreds of resumes, finally compiled a shortlist of potential candidates, and the only thing between you and placing the perfect applicant is the job interview. Take some time before these meetings to read over this list and prepare for what will hopefully be a slew of successful interviews.