Best Practices For Interviewing Candidates

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Best Practices For Interviewing Candidates

Finding and hiring the best candidates requires continual interview iteration for the best results. Many companies struggle with this process because they're stuck with outdated tools, tactics, and frameworks that keep them locked in an inefficient loop. If your interviews don't seem to get the top talent that you need- you're in the right place- today's article is about updating your interview best practices to net better results, the role of virtual interviews in speeding up the interview process, and lowering costs, and giving managers tips to run great interviews that deliver results.

Best Practices for Interviewing Candidates:

  1. Preparation and Strategy

Preparation is key. From creating structured interview questions that align with the role's responsibilities, checking your tech, reviewing the candidate's resume, and ensuring that you understand the timelines and next steps- ensuring that you're fully prepared to conduct an effective interview will make all the difference.

  1. Clear and Objective Communication

Communication is critical in hiring.  Setting the proper expectations, building rapport, and ensuring a positive candidate experience all come down to communication. Be clear about the role, responsibilities, and company.

  1. Interviewer/ Panel Diversity

Choose different interviewers to provide multiple perspectives on the candidate's fit and consider holding a group interview to observe the candidate's interaction in a team setting.

  1. Standardizing the Interview Process

Utilize structured interview techniques, asking the same standardized questions to each candidate to ensure fairness and facilitate an objective evaluation. Focus on behavioral questions to assess past performance and situational questions to assess critical thinking skills and future performance.

  1. Maintaining a Bias-Free Environment

Avoid unconscious bias to ensure a fair selection process, and maintain a professional demeanor to set the right tone for the interview.

  1. Closing the Interview & Next Steps

Describe the next steps in the process clearly, ensuring the candidate knows what to expect following the interview. Also, include timelines for when they can expect to hear back from the company.

  1. Post-Interview Evaluation

Gather feedback from all interviewers, and carefully evaluate each candidate's strengths and weaknesses based on their performance during the structured interviews.

  1. Offer Constructive Feedback

If a candidate is not selected, providing constructive feedback on areas for improvement can be beneficial to them. Try to be helpful, not critical in your feedback, remember that a "No" is discouraging, so ensure that the feedback is given with grace and good intent.

  1. Continuous Improvement

Continuously refine interviewing techniques and the overall process based on feedback from candidates and updates in best practices to improve candidate experience and hiring outcomes.

If it's your first time interviewing candidates, hopefully, these steps can serve as a guide - if you're an "old pro" at interviewing, hopefully, some of these tips can help you improve your current practices so you can attract top talent.

At Pillar, our team built interview intelligence software to help you make better hiring decisions so you can build a great team - if you'd like more resources on the topic, check out the ebooks and guide section of our site to learn more.

Role Of Virtual Interviews

Finding the right questions to ask candidates in virtual interviews can be a challenge. So often we've been programmed to show up to meetings without a specific plan that we're unprepared for an interview when we see it on our calendar. That's why we built our AI-generated virtual interview guide which can help you prepare in just a few minutes. Click the link, paste your job description into the text window, and in less than 5 minutes, we'll email you an interview guide with structured interview questions and an outline for your next virtual interview.

The role of virtual interviews today has grown 100x. Since the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020, companies have had to rethink their approach to talent. Weighing factors like hybrid, in-office, or remote work to overcome the challenges of a shifting economy. This obstacle made virtual interviews the standard- at least for the majority of roles.

Another shift happened due to new research on the types of interviews that generated the best hires. There are several types of interviews- pre-recorded, in-person, virtual, unstructured, semi-structured, and structured interviews just to name a few. Structured interviews have been validated by research as the best option for creating an objective assessment process and accurately predicting candidate success.

Interviewing techniques for interviewers considering structured interviews include:

  • Preparing an Interview Guide. Create an interview guide with details about the job, candidate qualifications, and a list of questions that you will ask each applicant.
  • Using Structured Interview Questions. These are standardized questions for all candidates that are asked in the same order to assess the candidate's skills based on the criteria listed in the last point.
  • Rating Scales. Utilize a rating scale to evaluate candidate's answers, typically on a numerical scale of 1 to 5. This can help make the evaluation process more objective and consistent.
  • Behavioral & Situationally-based Interview Questions.  Ask candidates to provide specific examples from their past work experience to demonstrate their skills, abilities, and behaviors related to the job requirements.
  • Active Listening.  Be an active listener during the interview and take thorough notes to accurately evaluate each candidate's answers.

The cost of hiring talent has always been a significant challenge for companies. The average cost to hire a single employee is $4,000 or more according to the Society for Human Resource Management's Human Capital Report- and the cost of hiring a bad one can be 2x their annual compensation. Coming to an interview prepared with behavioral interview questions to ask candidates will give you better data to base your hiring decisions.

Interviewing Tips For Managers

Let's turn our attention to interview best practices for managers. When it comes to creating an effective interview process, that's both engaging to the candidate and informative to the interviewer, there are several key key factors. First and foremost, preparing your team for interviews has a powerfully informative effect. Giving them clear roles and responsibilities, hiring criteria, their part in the process, and a script for the job interview conversation can help align your team and provide a smoother experience for both parties. This doesn't mean creating a rigid environment, but instead a well-thought-out plan with key milestones for an effective conversation.

Preparation is key before an interview. Reviewing a candidate's resume, LinkedIn profile, portfolio, and other assets and comparing them to the criteria on the job description will help you focus on the candidate's strengths and weaknesses in regard to the role. You can also ask candidates to provide work samples or complete a skills assessment before the interview to further evaluate their skills. This will allow you to tailor follow-up questions more precisely to uncover learnings from the candidate's experiences.

Second, set the tone. For early conversations with candidates like screenings, an interview conversation will be more qualifying (ie. question and answer). As you move into the latter stages of interviews, creating a two-way dialogue can significantly enhance the trust and rapport you have with an applicant. Once you get to the final decision and offer phase, negotiation can begin and hopefully end in a win/win. If you remain flexible but set the frame for each interview, you can make this process smoother for all parties.

Creating a positive environment no matter what stage of the interview process you're in sets the candidate at ease and can help build a positive candidate experience, even if the job offer is not made. A positive, respectful interaction can leave a lasting impression on the candidate and reflect well on your company's culture.

As you create your interview questions, consider the value of adding behavioral and situational interview questions to interview scripts. Incorporating behavioral interview questions will allow you to analyze how the candidate has handled challenges in the past, and situational interview questions will help you understand how they approach and solve problems. These types of questions can provide insights into a candidate's thought process, problem-solving skills, and ability to handle difficult situations.

But just asking the questions isn't enough - gauging their responses is where you'll glean real-world insights. This is a huge interviewing tip for managers. The question is just the trigger, how they think through, articulate, and communicate their response is where the real gold is found. You'll be listening for brevity, clarity, and how a candidate ties their experience to the job's requirements, how they critically think through a situation, and how they handle each challenge they face. This is how you truly assess fit.

Now that you're hearing their responses, actively listening is a core skill you'll need to engage with the candidate's responses and get deeper insights. Active listening is the process of fully focusing on what is being said, understanding the information, and providing appropriate feedback. It's important to take thorough notes during the interview not only for evaluating each candidate but also for referencing later in the hiring process.

Instead of taking notes, consider using interview intelligence software to collect data during the interview. With reactions that are powered by AI and recorded to be transcribed by the software after the interview, you can re-watch and easily reference specific parts of the interview. This also helps keep your team aligned on evaluations with a standardized scoring system.

Finally, conclude the interview with a clear outline of the next steps. This provides candidates with a sense of closure and sets expectations for what comes next. It's an essential element to include in your script for a job interview conversation because it demonstrates organization and respect for the candidate’s time and interest in the role.

In conclusion, effective interviewing is an art that requires preparation, active engagement, and adaptability. A script for a job interview conversation serves as a valuable framework, but it's the nuanced, personalized engagement that truly makes the difference. By applying these interviewing tips for managers, you can enhance your interviewing techniques to better identify top talent, creating a strong foundation for your team's future success.

If you'd like to see how interview intelligence can further enhance your hiring outcomes, book a demo today. Happy Hiring!