Effective Interviewing Skills

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Effective Interviewing Skills

We live in a world where the war for talent has become increasingly competitive - but resources are growing scarce. As wages increase and more of the workforce leaves high-paying roles for consulting gigs, coaching, and fitness opportunities, the pressure is on to find the right person for the right role - which is why effective interviewing skills are a must.

With unemployment levels currently at an all-time low and workforce shortages becoming more common, organizations are having to refine their hiring processes to attract top talent. To remain competitive, companies must take the time to properly prepare for interviews and develop effective interviewing techniques.

When it comes to interviewing, there are a few key elements that need to be nailed down before you can even begin. The first is understanding what an effective interview is. To put it simply, an effective interview allows both parties to fully explore the skills and experience of the candidate in a way that leads to a mutual understanding of a suitable fit for the role or decision to exit the process - this is outcome driven.

Once you have a good understanding of what an effective interview looks like and the desired outcome, the next step is preparing yourself for the process. How to prepare for an interview effectively, you ask? It's quite simple.

Lever, an ATS (applicant tracking system) software provider reports that almost half of the interviewers and hiring managers have never been through official Interview skills training.

Effective interviewer skills training from interview intelligence software provider, Pillar, starts with coaching tools, a suite of interview questions, interview recordings, and candidate scoring tools, and comes with other supporting resources to ensure that your team is sharp and effective from the first handshake to the offer letter.

The key is to use this comprehensive suite of tools and resources to prepare fully for each interview so you can show up empowered to reach your company's desired outcomes. This will help ensure that you can make an informed decision on whether or not the candidate is a great fit for the role.

Interviewing Skills for Interviewers

When training interviewers and managers, you'll want to keep a couple of things in mind. Depending on the interviewer, interviews can be as natural and easy as a conversation, or difficult and uncomfortable due to the lack of preparation, plan, or established rapport. Much of this begins with the mindset of the interviewer as they set the tone for the interview, and it's why we've included some helpful interviewing tips for managers.

Having an effective interviewing strategy in place is a great way to ensure that the interviewer has all the necessary tools they can lean on during the interview. This includes understanding company policies, history, and leadership, as well as having a thorough grasp of the open role, knowledge of potential questions to ask, and follow-up questions based on the candidate's responses.

The best interviewers are often those with a fun and light persona, curious nature, and structured converstaional skills, meaning that they're able to lead a conversation from one point to another naturally.

Interviewing skills for interviewers also include the ability to create a comfortable atmosphere for both parties so that open and honest dialogue can occur. This means avoiding preconceived notions about candidates, as well as being aware of non-verbal cues. The interviewer should strive to maintain an open and curious mindset while listening closely and carefully to the candidate's answers.

Interviews shouldn't be rushed and should always remain within the scope of the role. This way, both parties get an ample opportunity to ask meaningful questions that are relevant to the job and need to be understood before moving forward with the hiring process.

Lastly, interviews should never take too much time away from other core responsibilities such as team meetings or client visits. Interviews should be structured so that they can be conducted strategically and conclude with a clear decision of how the candidate fared in the evaluation process. This will ensure that both parties can move forward, knowing that the interview was successful and an appropriate decision was made.

Ultimately, once you've created an effective interviewing strategy, training your people on the skills and techniques should become a simple feedback loop. After an unsuccessful hiring process, you review and analyze your interviews in interview intelligence software to identify any potential gaps, failure points, voids in skills, questions asked, or interviewing techniques that may be resulting in less-than-ideal hiring decisions, correct them, and adjust your strategy.

Pillar makes this easy with coaching tools to help assess and improve interviewing skills, interview recordings, and candidate scoring tools. With this comprehensive suite of resources, you can be sure that your team is sharp and effective from the first handshake to the offer letter.

How to Conduct An Effective Interview

Conducting effective interviews is far easy than you might think. But we make the mistake of "boiling down" our employees to 3 words. We say things like, we're looking for "Humble, Hungry, and Smart" or, Enthusiastic, Committed, and Competent," and these are all great ideas from great books like, "The Ideal Team Player," by Patrick Lencioni and others.

Great ideas, but when you're hiring a software engineer, they don't need to display the same extroverted characteristics and energy as a VP of Enterprise Sales.

The problem with this "over-simplification" ideology is that it diminishes the complexity of our human resources, which at our core are complex and multifaceted. Each person brings something different to your team, which is why it's so important to put in the effort to understand the expectations of the role, more than the person before you hire.

Conducting an effective interview begins with fully understanding the scope and skills necessary to perform above company expectations. For example, if you're hiring an AE and need them to close $180k a quarter, but you're giving them all of their leads, you should consider their closing skills as more important than their ability to source new leads.

Now, this should go without saying, but a few weeks ago, I was speaking with an HR team at a local startup who was looking for a Marketing Manager. 

We talked for 30 minutes or so as they laid out why they'd struggled to find someone to fill the role. As the hiring manager began to give me a list of requirements for the role it quickly became evident that all they needed as an intern with a Hubspot Certification.

This realization made me think, if the hiring team had spent more time understanding the role and less time worrying about what words they would use to describe their candidate, they might have been able to save themselves some headaches.

Here's a list, so you don't make the same mistake:

1. What soft skills MUST this person have to perform well in the role? Soft skills (for interview purposes) are communicative abilities such as interpersonal qualities, problem-solving techniques, and effective decision-making.

2. What hard skills MUST this person have? Hard skills are specific, teachable abilities that can be defined and measured objectively. These could include coding languages or content management systems like WordPress or Adobe Creative Suite.

3. What past performance or track record do they need to have to show competence? This could include a successful track record with similar jobs in the same industry or even successes from other industries that can be translated to this job.

4. What challenges are they likely to face in this role? Are there specific challenges you know of that will be difficult for them to overcome? Have they shown the ability to overcome these in the past?

5. Do they share our values/ mission? This is key to cultural fit.  If their values don't align with your company's mission, they won't be as successful in the long term because the internal drive to fight through difficult economic conditions and other challenges won't be internalized. 

It really is that simple. The importance of interview skills is the ability to see, unpack, and make the above connections during the hiring process.

Types of Interviews

There are several common forms of interviewing today.

- Screening interviews are often used early in the hiring process and are usually over the phone.
- Pre-recorded video interviews are where a hiring manager sends a list of instructions to candidates who then answer questions while being recorded. This form of interview is also often used early in the hiring process.
- Video interviews are used throughout the interview process and are a great way to get an up-close and personal look at the candidates before meeting them in person.
- Face-to-face interviews are often used when more depth is needed in the interview process, such as if you need to discuss more complex topics.
- Group interviews involve multiple interviewers or multiple candidates and are a great way to assess how well they work together.

There are also technical interviews, assessment interviews, behavioral interviews, and case interviews. No matter the type of interview, if you use them correctly, they can be a great way for a hiring manager and team to get to know their candidates better and make sure they find the best person for the job.

Just remember, no matter which interview style you choose, the skills for interviews will be the same. Spend time upfront creating a job description that accurately reflects what a candidate must possess to perform well in the role and then use that as a guide through the interview process to dig deeper into their skills, experience, and culture fit.

It’s all about building relationships between yourself, your company, and the candidate so make sure you have a solid plan in place before starting the interviewing process.

If you'd like to see an effective, efficient interview process, schedule some time to chat with our team. Pillar has helped companies lower employee turnover by more than 50% over the last 12 months by helping them make better hires. Book your demo and we'll show you how we can help you do the same.