Effective Interviews

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Effective Interviews

Hiring reports every year find direct correlations between the effectiveness of well-implemented interview strategies and the long-term success of an employee - yet so often as interviewers, we're so overloaded we show up to interviews with minimal preparation and hope we get "the cream of the crop." As you can imagine, this tactic yields unreliable results and often leads to a poor hiring decision. So how can we conduct effective interviews?

Preparation is Key

We're going to do a deep dive into this in the next section, but the key to a successful interview is preparation. I believe it was Sun Tzu who wrote, "Every battle is won or lost before it is even fought..." and the same is true for interviews. You will have a hard time getting reliable results if you're unprepared or don't know what you're looking for in an employee.

Standardize the Hiring Criteria and Structure the Interview

At their core, effective interviews are simply about identifying one thing. Will this candidate perform at or above company expectations in each of the areas we've defined as vital? This means that you need to create a selection process that filters out those who don't meet these criteria and leaves you with the best candidates. To achieve this, start by defining the necessary criteria for the desired role and then structure your interview questions around these key areas. This will not only help you stay focused during the interview but also ensure that all candidates are evaluated on an equal basis. Structured interviews are vital in the workplace because they significantly increase the likelihood of a successful hire by aligning candidate qualities with job requirements and organizational values and assessing applicants based on these standards.

Ask the Right Questions

Now that you have a criteria and structure, it's time to craft the questions. This involves a clear understanding of the job role, the skills required, and the cultural attributes that give your organization a competitive advantage. Your questions should be open-ended, and probing and reflect the competencies that you have identified as core to the role. This means asking about past experiences, achievements, and behaviors, and giving scenarios to assess their critical thinking skills. By crafting questions that encourage candidates to share experiences demonstrating their skills and fit for the role, interviewers can gain essential insights beyond the resume.

How to Conduct Effective Interviews

Mastering the art of how to interview someone is not solely about asking the right questions; it's equally about listening actively and reading between the lines of what's not being said so you can ask deeper questions. Interviewers who've built proper rapport and created a relaxed comfortable atmosphere can use probing questions to dig deeper into the experience of a candidate, yielding valuable insights.

The next thing that's important is effective communication. In today's world, where the average employee is expected to collaborate with other teams at different technical levels, work with customers, and provide insights for marketing- effective communication skills are a must. We used to use what we called the brevity metric to assess this aspect of a candidate's communication on their scorecard. The "brevity metric" was a simple measure of how succinctly someone provided an explanation. Measured on a scale from 1- 5.

Remember that effective interviews are more than a "standard procedure" in the hiring process; they are a strategic tool that, when executed well, can attract and identify the best talent that aligns with an organization's goals and values. As we move onto the topic of interview preparation, a key to conducting effective interviews, we'd be remiss if we left out tools that can help you uncover better candidate insights and gather data to help you make better decisions. At Pillar, we believe that we've built the best interview intelligence software to help you do just that, but there are many tools in the marketplace that can greatly benefit you based on your specific needs. Do your research and you'll find the best ones for your team.

Preparation For Interviewing

As we briefly covered in the first section, proper preparation for interviewing is the cornerstone of conducting effective interviews. So let's look at an effective interview preparation process. Using the example of an Account Executive, here are a few steps you can take to ensure you're prepared for the interviews:

  1. Understand the job role - Review the job description and understand the key responsibilities and qualifications required for this role.
  2. Identify key competencies - Based on the job role, identify the core competencies that are necessary for success in this position. This could include skills like communication, sales, and problem-solving.
  3. Develop interview questions - Craft questions that align with the identified competencies and will help you assess a candidate's fit for the role.
  4. Check your tech - If you're conducting virtual interviews, make sure your technology is functioning properly and that you have a stable internet connection.
  5. Review resumes - Take time to review each candidate's resume before the interview so that you can ask targeted questions and gain a better understanding of their experience.
  6. Define success criteria - Have a clear idea of what success looks like for this role and what qualities and skills you're looking for in a candidate.
  7. Show up on time - Make sure you have enough time before the interview starts to settle in and prepare yourself mentally. This included turning your devices to "Do-not-disturb" and making sure you're focused on the candidate.

The biggest challenge here will be crafting the interview questions. Every candidate is unique, and by preparing unique questions, interviewers can uncover deeper insights into each candidate's capabilities and how they align with the role's requirements. Crafting effective interview questions begins with a thorough job analysis, identifying the skills, knowledge, and abilities essential for success in the role - or you can click here and paste your job description into the text field and let our AI create effective interview questions for you.

Now, it's time to interview. Knowing how to start an interview conversation sets the tone for a productive dialogue- and that's what we're going to cover in the next section.

Techniques For Conducting Interviews

One of the most effective interviewing techniques for interviewers is the behavioral interviewing method. Behavioral interviews focus on asking candidates to provide real-life examples of how they've handled situations relevant to the role you're hiring them to do. This is one of the fastest ways to identify if a candidate is a fit or not.

Another useful technique is the situational interviewing method. Situational interviews present hypothetical scenarios (also relevant to the role) to candidates and ask them how they would handle it. This helps assess a candidate's problem-solving skills, decision-making abilities, and their thought process when faced with challenges.

Common techniques for conducting interviews also include active listening. Active listening is a skill that involves the interviewer being fully present and engaged with the interviewee, signaling that their insights are valuable.

Lastly, tips for successful interviews involve asking follow-up questions and digging deeper into a candidate's responses. This allows interviewers to gain a better understanding of the candidate's thought process, decision-making abilities, and problem-solving skills.

Evaluating Interview Effectiveness

In this final section, we're going to talk about evaluating the hiring process, interview, and the candidate. Evaluating interview effectiveness is critical to improving each step to ensure you acquire the best talent and that your recruitment process aligns with your organizational goals.

First, let's talk about the candidate. The final tip we have for you today is to evaluate their competencies as much as their shortfalls. We see a lot of questions online like, "Why are competency-based interviews effective or important?" The key is evaluating the candidate holistically, not solely based on their victories. Competency-based interviews allow employers to assess candidates' abilities to perform specific tasks but can also show you where they're weak. This is key to complete applicant evaluation.

Another question we see a lot is, "Are panel interviews effective for candidate evaluation?" And, the answer is, "Yes," when they are structured properly. Like the competency-based interview, the panel interview will give a comprehensive outlook on the candidate with far more accuracy than one interviewer alone. 

In conclusion, continuously refining the process of evaluating your internal interview effectiveness is crucial for enhancing the quality of your hires and the efficiency of your recruitment strategy. By implementing a structured approach to interview assessment and being open to adopting new methodologies, organizations can significantly improve their talent acquisition outcomes. To learn more about creating an effective interview process, book a demo of Pillar today! We'd love to show you how interview intelligence software and the suite of tools we built to support it can help you make better hiring decisions and continually improve your hiring process.