The internet is full of blog posts and articles giving pointers to interviewees to excel in the upcoming interviews. However, only a few blog posts are found on Google’s front page advising how interviewers can perform starling business interviews. There is little effort given to improving the age-old interviewing process and tactics.
Interviewing is one of the hiring activities employers think they know well because they have been doing it for ages. The perfunctory habit has lulled many business owners with less emphasis on new interviewing skills. Modest efforts to improve interviewing techniques can bring rich results.
The interviewers’ objective is to ask the right questions, prompt the candidates to speak honestly about their attitudes and habits, and carefully listen to their answers. The good news is that interviewees are primed to speak about themselves, so the interviewers’ challenge is to ask the correct questions.
Tips for successful business interviewing
This article provides practical tips to improve your business interview skills. Following these suggestions helps interviewers avoid pitfalls, such as human bias, and arrive at a suitable candidate.
Much like playing an online casino, an interview is a delicate dance. You have to understand and read people even when they don’t show much. Especially now with Covid leading to more interviews to be done via the internet.
Preparation is as key for the interviewer as it is for the interviewee. As an interviewer, you do well to prepare well before interviewing a potential employee. Some employers go into the interview unprepared with the confidence that they have done several interviews.
However, such a move is not wise. Failure to prepare will make you appear unprofessional and disorganized. Remember, each prospective employees have unique skills and employment history; therefore, going through their resume will help you ask the right questions.
The interviewee could realize your unpreparedness when you confuse their names and fail to ask questions about their experience. Preparation will help the interviewer get the right candidate for the job and contribute to organizational development.
Another step in an interviewer’s preparation is scheduling the interview on the calendar and treating the interview date as an appointment. You are hiring personnel that will determine the organization’s future; therefore, ensure you give the process undivided attention.
Ensure you have cleared your desk, ensure your phone is in the do not disturb mode. Other employees in the office should know you are unavailable and would not want to be disturbed. The interview day is not the time for pitching for sales and receiving endless client calls.
Research the candidate
Though this looks like part of the preparation, it is essential for the interview. As an interviewer, you should understand the candidate you are about to interview. In some instances, you may not have any information about the candidate, where a little spying comes in.
Many people are on social media by diving into their profiles like LinkedIn to discover additional information in this day and age. Social media profiles can help ask questions about accomplishments and talents not included in the resume. It will also tell the candidate that you did your homework and is prepared for the interview.
Develop an interview structure
Conducting a structured interview will help you keep track of the interview and avoid wasting the candidate’s time. A structured interview helps you move systematically and thoroughly cover each stage and question of the interview. How can you structure your interview?
Fill the first part with a formal introduction to let the candidate know who is interviewing them. You could also highlight a brief description of goals linked to the interview position and what the organization wants to achieve.
The next part should be the interview questions. In the end, give the interviewee a chance to ask the panel questions of their own.
Pace your interview
Several interviewees come to the interview tense, and it is the interviewers’ role to diffuse the tension in the room. Though some humorous candidates can help set the interview’s pace, as an interviewer, you should use the first few remarks or questions to set the candidate at ease.
You want candidates to be as candid as possible, and the tone you set at the beginning of the interview will help you accomplish your goal. Simple questions that address the candidate’s work experience like Tell me about how your typical day on your current job goes? What did you love about your past job? are good for a relaxed environment.
By setting the pace of the interview, the candidate leaves refreshed, knowing they did their best. Interviewers also gain a clear picture of the candidate’s abilities, qualifications, and experience. You can be sure that the answers were given with soundness of mind.
Choose your questions wisely
This is also where many interviewers go wrong. Remember that the role of an interview is to ask questions that draw out the candidate to talk about their relevant skills. You are not in the interview room to impress potential employees with smart brains and eloquence.
It is essential to select questions tailored to the position you are hiring for, including skills related to work history and job knowledge. Include in your interview questions situational and behavioral questions to help know the employee’s preparedness to handle various challenging situations.
Listen more and speak less
The major goal is to gain insight into the candidate’s personality, experience, and potential contribution to the organization. You can know these facts if you allow the candidates to talk more. The interview room is not the interviewer’s show; the candidate needs to shine as they explain what they bring to the table.
As an interviewer, you want to decide based on how they respond to questions. Take time to listen to how they respond and add follow-up questions on points that are not clear. Listening more and speaking less also help you understand the unspoken word, giving you the platform to draw the candidate to share their feelings.
Another pitfall that affects many interviewers is overtaking notes as the candidates express themselves. Concentrating on note-taking means, you will not pay attention to what the candidates say and how they say it. Therefore, balance asking questions, taking notes, and listening.
How to grow as an interviewer
Like communication skills, conducting effective interviews is an art that can be learned over time. There is a whole industry of agencies dedicated to conducting interviews for various clients, and as an interviewer, you can horn your skills. Here are some things you can do.
Know your biases
Human beings have subconscious biases they may or may not know, and these biases can be detrimental to making rational decisions. Our biases can interfere with the way we judge candidates. Knowing your biases will help you have a clear mind to judge fairly.
Organizations spend thousands of dollars on the interview process to get ideal candidates. You can do justice to the process by eliminating any biases such as color, beauty, race, tribe, e.t.c. You could know your level of bias by taking a test like Havard’s Implicit Association Test.
Master the art of asking open-ended questions
Open-ended questions invite the candidate to explain themselves rather than give one answer, such as yes or no. It takes preparation and training to learn the art of using effective questions, and as an interviewer, you can learn this skill.
Questions like “how did you do that?”, “why do you think this is happening?” provides an excellent opportunity for candidates to use their experience to solve problems. You will get more information by being skillful at asking questions, and you could benefit by taking a course or watching tutorials.
Growth is also seen in the type of question you ask. Stand questions like where do you see yourself in ten years? What are your weaknesses, and the famous “tell me about yourself?” are outdated and archaic. These stand questions do not benefit you since many candidates come with crammed answers.
Why not prepare and come up with challenging questions that allow candidates to think and give honest answers? Other effective questions are the scenario-based questions that allow you to see how a prospective employee act in various on-the-job situations.
Interview with co-workers
Not all the time; solo interviews are advisable. Some organizations have a day for interviews if they are interviewing many candidates; going it alone can be exhausting, and you may not assess the candidates correctly.
Learning to cooperate with fellow workers in an interview is a sign of growth. You can divide the questions between the panel, allowing ample time to listen while your colleagues ask questions. Involving co-workers also minimize the challenge of personal biases because more than one interviewer assesses employees.
Be flexible and go off-script if necessary
It is good to follow formulated questions; however, make the interview conversational. The questions should only act as a guide to steer guide the interview. A conversational interview enables the candidates to share their related skills and past experiences.
You can unearth more from the candidate by asking follow-up questions. These explanatory questions require skills to ask because you had not prepared them beforehand. Nevertheless, they are necessary to understand the interviewee’s qualifications fully.
Promote the company
Some interviewers think they are doing the interviewee a favor; hence they do not need to sell the company. However, if the candidate is promising, you could promote the company and the position to them. You don’t want to interview the best candidate and lose them to competitors.
Some candidates could be interviewing for your company, and others could sway them to join your team, promoting the company and positioning them. The interviewer wants to learn more about the interviewee.
In contrast, the candidate wants to learn more about your organization and the position. By promoting your culture and brand, the interviewee will know whether or not they fit with your organization.
Common Questions that can improve your business interview skills
We have already seen that using standard questions is archaic and achieves little to no value. You could use behavioral questions to understand the candidates’ qualifications better. Here are a few of the competencies you could establish and the related questions:
- Dependability- Could you tell us about a time you had a challenge keeping a commitment and how you handled it?
- Adaptability- Tell us when you were under immense pressure due to several demands competing for your attention and time. How did you solve the situation?
- Ethics- Could you explain a situation when you worked with a person you did not respect or like. How did you handle the relationship?
- Customer Service- What is the most difficult customer encounter you have ever experienced, and how did you handle it?
- Initiative- Could you tell us about any opportunity presented at your workplace, but you were unwilling to take the risk. How did you finally respond?
- Judgment- Tell us about a situation that necessitated you to make a difficult decision. What did you do to arrive at a decision?
- Interpersonal skills- Have you ever had a serious conflict with a co-worker, and how did you solve the problem?
- Leadership- What leadership position do you have in the society or former workplace, and how have you used that position to inspire or energize an individual or a group?
- Teamwork- Tell us when you had to set your priorities and ambitions aside for the team’s interest.
Conducting productive interviews can save businesses tons of money for regular interviews because it will recruit the right candidates. Interview skills have changed, and as interviewers, you do well to get acquainted with these skills.
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