Effective Interview

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Effective Interview

What is an effective interview? It's a process that turns qualified candidates into excited new hires. That's it. Sounds simple, right? Maybe, not so much... Effective interview examples are a collision of preparation, technology, training, and structure - involving careful planning, clear communication, team coordination, and active listening. Then you have to factor in the different types of interviews that take place - screenings, first interviews, hiring manager interviews, panel interviews, and executive or board interviews - there's a lot to consider if you want to "get it right."

Luckily, all effective interviews share common components that make them successful. So, today we're diving into creating and conducting effective interviews. We'll talk about the components of an effective interview, cover some example interview questions to ask, and provide you with the frameworks and outlines so that you can lead an effective interview even if you're new to interviewing.

The purpose of an interview is to find the right people for your team. It’s not just about filling a position; it’s about discovering individuals who will do great work within your team and thrive in your company culture. Effective interview examples are like a two-way street, allowing both the interviewer and the candidate to explore the potential for a perfect partnership. As an interviewer, your goal is to create a structured and engaging conversation that will help you get to know the candidate beyond their resume. This means asking thoughtful questions, actively listening to responses, and providing a positive and welcoming environment for the candidate.

Let's take a look at some common components of an effective interview:

  1. Preparation: A successful interview begins with thorough preparation. This involves reviewing the candidate's resume, researching their background and experience, understanding the role they are interviewing for, and preparing structured interview questions.
  2. Clear Communication: Effective interviews involve clear communication between both parties. As an interviewer, it's important to clearly explain the purpose of the interview, the structure and format, and any expectations or next steps.
  3. Team Coordination: For panel or multi-round interviews, it's vital for the team to coordinate well. This guarantees a seamless experience for candidates and offers diverse perspectives from team members.
  4. Active Listening: During an interview, active listening is vital. Pay attention to the candidate's words, body language, and tone. Listen for key details and ask follow-up questions for a deeper understanding.
  5. Structured Format: A successful interview follows a structured format with various question types like behavioral, situational, role-related, and culture-related. This helps the interviewer gather relevant candidate information and maintain focus. Interview intelligence can do most of the heavy lifting for you in a structured interview - click here to learn more.

Crafting Effective Interview Questions

Let's go a level deeper on that last point - structured format. Crafting effective interview questions is an art and a science. It involves understanding the role, company culture, and goals of the interview while also taking into consideration bias and compliance. Here are some tips for crafting effective interview questions:

  • Start with open-ended questions: This encourages candidates to share more information and reveal their thought processes.
  • Use behavioral or situational questions: These types of questions allow you to understand how the candidate has handled similar situations in the past and how they may handle them in your company.
  • Use role-related questions: These questions assess a candidate's knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary for the job.
  • Ask culture-related questions: These questions reveal if the candidate is a good fit for your company culture.

Here are some examples of our most effective interview questions:

  1. "If your previous team were to describe you in three words, what would they say? Why do you think they'd choose those specific words?"
  2. "Tell us about a time when you had to handle a difficult task or project on a tight deadline. How did you approach it and what was the outcome?"
  3. "Can you give an example of a time when you had to work with a team member who had a different working style than your own? How did you handle it and what did you learn from the experience?"
  4. "How do you prioritize and manage your workload when faced with multiple tasks at once?"
  5. "Our company culture values collaboration and teamwork. Can you give us an example of a time when you went above and beyond to support a team member or contribute to a project?"

With these tips and examples, you're well on your way to a great interview. Remember, Pillar has more than 1000 questions like these in our interview library, you can see more by creating your own personalized interview guide.

How To Conduct An Effective Interview

Effective interview techniques and best practices are key to gathering high-quality data to help you make a hiring decision. Some key techniques to consider include active listening, using open-ended questions, avoiding leading or biased questions, and creating a comfortable and engaging atmosphere.

"Active listening" involves truly listening to the candidate to demonstrate interest and gain valuable insights. When a candidate talks about a skill or experience, dig deeper by asking for more details and examples. Open-ended questions also allow you to gather more detail from the candidates, as opposed to closed-ended questions that only require a simple "yes" or "no" answer.

Leading and biased questions actually show more about your own opinions than candidates. These will bias a candidate's responses and skew your data. For example, instead of asking "Don't you agree that experience trumps education in this role?", ask "How do you believe your previous experience would contribute to success in this role?"

Creating a comfortable and engaging atmosphere is also a vital component of conducting an effective interview. Start with some casual small talk to help ease nerves and establish a rapport...but we're getting ahead of ourselves. Let's go deeper into these topics by illustrating an example interview.

How to Conduct an Effective Interview - Even if it's Your First Time.

A great interview starts with a well-defined purpose and thorough preparation. Let's assume that you're 15 minutes out from your first candidate interview and you want to make it a good one. You've practiced mock interviews with your hiring manager or HR and you have a structured approach but are still feeling some butterflies. Don't worry, the candidate will be too - so you can take a breath and relax. 15 minutes before the interview, check your calendar invitation for a video link, log in to your video interview platform, double-check your headphone connection, and make sure your background is conducive to having a face-to-face conversation. These things take less than 5 minutes to check and will save you a ton of hassle in the interview.

Now, look at their resume, portfolio (if it is included), LinkedIn profile, and any other social profiles listed. What things do you share in common with the candidate? Maybe a mutual connection, an influencer you both follow, an alma mater or association you're both part of or a hobby you share. Make note of these similarities and use them in your interview introduction to build rapport and set the tone of the conversation. This will set both yourself and the candidate at ease and the interview will go much smoother.

Next, set the stage. Introduce yourself (if you haven't already) and summarize what you're there to accomplish. Give timeframes for the interview and talk about what the next steps would look like before you even jump into the content. A great example of a next steps statement would be, "At the end of our interview today, if we both think this is a good fit, I'll be happy to schedule your second interview with our hiring manager for early next week..." This not only sets expectations for the candidate but also shows that you are organized and have a clear process in place.

A structured interview format follows a specific outline and uses standardized behavioral and situational interview questions for all of the candidates applying for the role. This creates an unbiased qualification process where candidates' skills and experience can be assessed objectively. You can read more about the structured interview here, or create your own interview guide with structured interview questions by clicking here.

At the close of the interview, make sure to ask the candidate if they have any questions for you. This is an opportunity for them to clarify any doubts they may have and also indicate their level of interest in the role. Finally, thank them for their time and let them know when they can expect to hear back from you regarding the next steps.

Conducting an effective interview isn't hard, but it takes practice. Have patience with yourself if you don't get it right the first time and ask your team to run through mock interviews with questions to ensure that you're prepared for the next one.

Enhancing Interview Skills

So now that you've seen some effective interview strategies, let's talk about how to enhance your interview skills with training. Being an effective interviewer requires a mix of both soft and hard skills. Soft skills are the interpersonal qualities that allow you to communicate and interact effectively with others, while hard skills are the technical abilities and knowledge specific to a job or role.

Since interviewing is a blend of art and science, keeping these skills sharp requires practice and continuous learning. Some practical ways to enhance your interview skills include attending workshops, trainings, or webinars, reading books or articles on interviewing techniques, and practicing mock interviews with colleagues.

It's also important to constantly evaluate and improve your interviewing process. Consider gathering feedback from candidates who have gone through the interview process with you. Ask for their honest opinions about areas where you excelled and areas where you can improve. This feedback will allow you to continuously refine your skills and create a more effective interview process.

Another key aspect of enhancing your interviewing skills is staying up-to-date with industry trends, best practices, and compliance. Attend conferences or networking events in your field to learn from others and stay abreast of any changes or advancements in the industry. Networking with other professionals can also provide valuable insights and tips for conducting successful interviews.

Ultimately, the key to enhancing your interviewing skills is to be open to learning and continuously improving. With practice and dedication, you can become a confident and effective interviewer who can identify top talent for your organization.

If you're looking to elevate your hiring process, book a demo of Pillar. We'll show you how interview intelligence can do that heavy lifting in an interview for you so you can focus on being present with the candidate. To learn more, chat with our team today.