Finding the right employees can be a challenge in any industry. To put the right people in the right positions, it is always helpful to brush up on interviewing skills and putting an effective interview process in place.[i]
Conducting a job interview takes some planning. Making sure you find the right candidate for the job involves reviewing applications, preparing interview questions, creating scorecards — among other things. If you are an employer wondering how to conduct a job interview effectively, here are seven tips to follow.
1. Build an interview structure
Before you start scheduling, create an interview structure. Essentially, you want to create an agenda for these meetings, which helps you know how to guide and streamline each interview process. You might start off with an introduction, followed by an overview of job duties, and a list of questions to ask each candidate. If applicable, you may want to ask the candidate to prepare a presentation or review a work sample with you.
Towards the end of the interview, explain key points of interest like salary, employee benefits, and company culture. You can end the meeting by explaining the next steps in the interview process and when the candidate can expect to know your decision.
2. Choose the right person to interview candidates
Who will interview the candidates? For some positions, one interviewer makes sense. In other situations, a small panel of interviewers is necessary.[ii] How do you decide?
To start, the direct supervisor of the open position can be an interviewer, then add from there necessary staff members. You might want someone from HR to conduct parts of the interview, or maybe the company’s top executive wants to be involved in the hiring process.[iii] Interviewers should be comfortable asking questions and have a keen eye for talent.
3. Create a list of interview questions
When you are conducting a job interview, you’ll likely ask a series of questions. Prepare a list and plan to ask every candidate the same set of questions. Examine each resume to personalize your questions to ask each candidate. Ask about their skills, previous work responsibilities, and personality traits that are important to the position.
Try to avoid leading questions that might imply the interviewee should give a certain response. You want to ask questions that are unbiased and open-ended so a candidate can speak freely and give you a true description of their talents and traits. Open-ended questions can encourage candidates to provide a more detailed answer instead of a simple “yes” or “no.” Here are a few open-ended questions you might ask when conducting a job interview:
- How would you describe yourself?
- What has prompted your job search?
- What motivates you?
- What are your expectations for this position?
- What kind of company culture best suits you?
- What are your strengths?
- What are your weaknesses?
- What would your coworkers say is your biggest asset?
- Give me an example of a problem you’ve had to overcome with a supervisor and explain how you handled it.
4. Ask for work samples
To make sure the candidate can complete the tasks you need, ask for work samples. If it is relevant to the job, you might ask candidates to offer a presentation or show a demonstration of recent work. You might also ask candidates to take a short test or solve an example problem related to the line of work. For example, if you’re hiring a computer programmer, you may want candidates to write a short piece of code for a given problem. This requires them to demonstrate skills essential to the position.
When you schedule a time for the interview, tell the candidate that a presentation or a portfolio will be part of the interview process. Explain your expectations. This poses questions such as:
- How many work samples should they provide?
- How long should their presentation be?
- Should they prepare a slideshow?
5. Review resumes beforehand
A job candidate is not the only one trying to make a good first impression. During the interview you are also showing why your company is a great place to work. If you are looking at a candidate’s resume for the first time during an interview, it shows. That’s not the kind of impression you want to make.
Before conducting a job interview, review resumes and do research as needed. Use resumes to customize the questions you plan to ask to show candidates that you’re as interested in them as they are in your company. As you review a candidate’s resume, avoid forming any opinions. You don’t want to bring any bias into the room when you’re conducting an interview.[iv]
6. Create a scorecard
Interviewers often see four to six prospects. To help keep details straight, create a scorecard for each interview. The scorecard ranks candidates in areas that matter most to the position you’re filling. For example, your scorecard might rank a candidate on a scale of 1–5 in any of these categories:
- Technical ability
- Leadership skills
- Interpersonal skills
- Presentation skills
- Organization skills
- Applicable work experience
When conducting a job interview, every interviewer can use the same scorecard format and fill one out for each candidate. Leave some room for notes, too.
7. Plan a post-interview follow up
At the end of each interview, explain the next steps. Consider answering these questions to let the candidates know what to expect after the interview.
- When will a hiring decision be made?
- How will candidates be notified?
- Is every candidate notified even if they aren’t chosen?
Remember to create an agenda before meeting with prospects, and follow through with it once you select the right candidate. Conducting a job interview is exciting, but it’s something that requires careful preparation.
In addition to the tips above, consider your answers to questions candidates could ask you. Questions about salary and benefits, for example, are likely to come up — have the answers ready.
Once your new hire is onboarded, let them know they’re a valued part of your team by providing the best employee benefits package. Explore Nationwide employee benefits plans for businesses like yours.
[v] “11 Interesting Hiring Statistics You Should Know,” Inc.