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Interviewing tips for managers abound online today. The problem with many of them is, they're coming from people who are primarily content writers tasked with raising branded company pages in SERPs - (aka, getting to #1 or #2 on Google for a keyword). This means that much of the advice is well-intentioned but lacks substance from real-world experience.
So, what can you do to truly become a better interviewer? In short, master the primary skills. Notice that we used the term "master?" There's a huge difference between technical and practical knowledge. For example, a DIY-savvy homeowner may know how to connect two pipes together to make their sink work, but a plumber knows why the water pressure isn't working when you turn the faucet on. In the same way, a content writer with industry experience may know the theories around interviewing, but a hiring manager has seen practically how they play out in their hiring decisions.
How to become a better interviewer.
So what are the primary interview skills that you need to master:
1. Preparation, preparation, preparation: The best interviewers do a tremendous amount of research. In our article "Tips from the Top 5 Interviewers," we talk about how Howard Stern, Oprah, Barbara Walters, David Letterman, and Katie Couric all do their homework - meaning they have something to talk about...
2. Asking open-ended questions: Interviewers are a conversation. If you want to create a meaningful exchange of information, you need to ask questions that aren't easily answered with a simple "yes" or "no." Ask questions that invite the interviewee to share their thoughts and feelings.
3. Active listening: Don't be so focused on your list of questions you forget to actually listen. Active listening involves not only hearing what the person is saying but also interpreting and responding accordingly... AKA, actually listening.
4. Following up: Great interviewers ask follow-up questions to dive deeper into the conversation. Doing so helps you get a better understanding of who the person is, what they believe, and how they think.
5. Analyzing body language: An often overlooked skill in interviewing is reading people's nonverbal cues. Pay close attention to someone's body language such as their posture, gestures, and facial expressions.
6. Get curious: Have you ever had a conversation with someone who's genuinely curious about you? It's captivating - and people who are being interviewed will open up to you if they feel like you're genuinely interested in what they have to say.
Think about this list as interview best practices for hiring managers. When Howard Stern is interviewing someone, he has had an entire team of people do in-depth research on what's going on in the celebrity's life, and he knows how to ask open-ended questions that give them a platform to talk about them openly in a conversational form without judgment. Oprah Winfrey is also well-known for her ability to have meaningful conversations with her guests, and she does this by being genuinely interested in them. Studying these masters of their craft is how to improve your interview skills 101 (201 is using interview intelligence software, but we'll get to that in a moment).
There are many qualities that make a great interviewer. The main one is having an open mind and being able to put yourself in the other person's position - this is one of the biggest interviewing tips for interviewers. For instance, if you review a candidate's profile on LinkedIn and realize that they have been laid off 2 times in the last 6 months due to company RIFs, then don't immediately dive into the interview questions. Instead, empathize with their situation and ask the right questions to gain an understanding of what happened - this is part of interviewer preparation before the interview and follows the old Scout's motto of "Be Prepared."
What makes a good interviewer:
Next, a good interviewer is someone who takes the time to understand the job position and find out as much about a candidate's skills, experience, past performance, and personal attributes. They're also patient, meaning they can wait for an answer and allow the candidate to explain themselves without interruption or judgment. Interviewers should also have a good understanding of the job and be prepared to ask questions about it.
Good interviewers are also able to read between the lines and pick up on subtle nonverbal cues. This is one of the big factors of an interview that's been lost due to COVID-19, work-from-home orders, and remote interviewing. Luckily, solutions like Pillar's video interview platform offer Ai powered tools that can recognize things that humans might miss. Inflections, tonal changes, micro-expressions, and more are all picked up on by the Ai-driven platform.
A good interviewer is also comfortable with silence and knows when to remain quiet and let the candidate answer. This helps create an environment where the interviewer can learn more about the candidate and allows them to truly express themselves- knowing that this expression will lead to a better understanding of the candidate. A good interviewer should also be organized - they should notes, or use Pillar so that they can note areas of the interview that offer relevant insights that other members may find insightful.
Finally, a good interviewer should be able to make a connection with the interviewee- they should have the ability to make the candidate comfortable and help them open up during the interview process. This is where engaging in small talk or asking questions that are more personal than professional can make all the difference. Interestingly enough, this is also where bias can creep into an interview, so you have to be on guard. If an interviewer finds out that a candidate has a hobby that they find "weird" or a belief that they don't agree with, it's important to remain professional and not allow biases to cloud their judgment.
At the end of the day, the best interviewers are those who come prepared and organized, ask thoughtful questions, listen actively, follow up appropriately, and analyze body language while being fair and unbiased throughout the process.
Interview questions are one of the most important aspects of an interview because these are the mechanism by which you'll express your company's expectations, qualify candidates, and get to know them better. That said, having a good job interview script is essential for any interviewer.
A sample job interview script to role-play should include:
- Introduction: Start by introducing yourself and the company you are hiring for. Explain the role that the candidate will be interviewing for and what they need to be successful in it.
- Questions: Next, ask the questions that you've prepared in advance. Make sure they are tailored to the role so that you can get an understanding of how qualified the candidate is and if they'd be the right fit for your company.
- Clarification: As candidates answer each question, it's important to clarify any points that are unclear or need more explanation. This goes along with the principle of actively listening and hearing what a candidate is trying to communicate to you.
- Candidate Questions: Remember this is a two-way conversation - that candidate is interviewing you as much as you're interviewing them. Toward the end of the interview, make sure to give them an opportunity to ask any questions they may have.
- Closing: Once all the questions have been asked and answered, it's time to thank the candidate for their time and explain what the next step in the process is. Be sure to provide them with an estimated timeline so that they don't feel left waiting.
- Following up with candidates post-interview is a must. Include the follow-up steps in your interview script. Not only does it show that your company is professional, organized, and values the candidate's time, but it also helps to make sure you get quality feedback about their experience of the process. It's important to follow up with both successful and unsuccessful candidates.
At the end of the day, having a role-play job interview script ensures that you have everything covered - and more importantly, remain professional. With a good job interview script, you can make sure that your company hires top talent with ease. Creating a job interview script is not only important for making sure you're asking the right questions but also for making sure you're creating a professional environment during the interview.
One question framework that we've seen become very effective is the Star Interviewing Technique. Star stands for Situation, Task, Action, and Result. This is a great way to get specific details from the candidate about their past experiences and how they reacted in certain situations.
No matter what method you use, having a job interview script will help ensure that you are well-prepared when it comes time to interview potential candidates. It not only helps keep the process organized but also ensures that you're getting all the information needed to make an informed decision about who to hire. As always, Pillar is here to help - our video interviewing platform offers many convenient features to help you transform your interview process. Book your demo to see how today!