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A job interview is one of the most important moments in a job seeker's career. It is their chance to show you (their potential employers) why they are the best candidates for the job. Most of the candidates you meet with will take a significant amount of time to prepare and practice for an interview will help them feel more confident and increase their chances of impressing you so that they get hired. They're reading Glassdoor, G2, TrustPilot, and other reviews online, arming themselves with tips on how to prepare for an interview, and running through answers to sample questions you may ask that will help them stand out against the competition.
As a result, it's important that you're able to see past the well-rehearsed and well-researched answers to the person that they really are. Some interview tips to help you see past the facade are:
1. Do your research: Doing a thorough scan of their resume, portfolio, and social media profiles will give you a general perspective of who they are as a person. Do they have good reviews and ratings on LinkedIn, have people endorsed them for their skills? This also gives you a chance to find common ground with them which builds trust and rapport faster than almost anything else.
2. Ask open-ended, semi-structured questions: Open-ended semi-structured questions are questions that are open enough to allow for a variety of answers, but structured in a way where you can still guide the discussion. This gives your candidate an opportunity to elaborate on their skills and experiences while allowing you to understand how they think and problem-solve.
3. Listen carefully: It's easy to be so focused on finding the “perfect” candidate that you forget to listen to what the candidate is saying. Pay close attention to their body language and the words they use. This will give you a better idea of how they react to certain situations and questions, rather than just relying on the content of their answer itself. This is one place where interview intelligence software can make all the difference. Using tools like Pillar that are powered by AI will give you a distinct advantage in assessing a candidate's responses.
4. Encourage storytelling: People are more inclined to recall stories than facts. Ask your candidates to narrate their experiences and explain how they solved a problem with an employer in the past. This will provide you with better insights into their decision-making process and how they handle challenges. It will also give you an opportunity to ask for metrics that you can use when you reach out to references later in the process.
5. Make time for their questions: Make sure it's a two-way conversation: Remember, this is a two-way interview- they're interviewing you as much as you're interviewing them so make sure to leave time at the end for them to ask any questions they have. This will give you an insight into what is important to them and what they want to know more about.
6. Communicate Timelines, Expectations, and Requirements: Make sure to let your candidates know the timeline for filling the position, what expectations are, and what requirements are for the job. This will help them understand if they have what it takes to be a successful candidate and give them an idea of when you’ll reach a decision and the next steps.
7. (If appropriate) Give feedback: Have a dialogue with your candidates so that you can provide them with some honest and constructive feedback on areas they excel in, as well as what they can do to improve. This will give them an opportunity to grow not only during the interview process but also beyond it and into future opportunities.
At the end of an interview, make sure you thank the candidate for taking the time to prepare and go through the interview process. This will give them a sense of appreciation and respect, which is something every job seeker looks forward to experiencing.
No matter how well-prepared you are going into an interview, it's always important to be open-minded and flexible with your approach. You never know when something unexpected may come up and it's important to be able to adjust accordingly.
So you've done your research, prepared your interview questions, filled your candidate funnel, and now it's time for the first interview. In the previous section, we listed some interview preparation tips that will help you assess the skills and qualities of potential hires. Next, you'll need a list of situational interview questions to know whether or not this person has the skills and experience to do the job.
Here are some of the best job interview questions and answers samples:
1. Tell me what your greatest achievement in your previous role was.
2. What would you consider to be your greatest strength?
3. Describe a situation where you had to think outside the box. How did you come up with a creative solution?
4. Tell me about the last time you felt like you failed in your role. How did you bounce back from the failure?
5. Tell me about a time that you faced a difficult decision at work and how you handled it.
6. Describe some of your successes in team-oriented projects or in a collaborative working environment.
7. What do you consider to be your most valuable skills when it comes to working in a team?
8. Tell me about the last time you had to give a presentation. How did you prepare and what was the outcome?
9. Describe a difficult piece of feedback you received in your previous role. What was it? And how did you process the feedback?
As you interview candidates, you'll want to ensure that you understand their past performance, cultural fit, hard and soft skills, technical skills, and behavioral aptitude. That's why situational interview questions are so important- they give you a better picture of the candidate and whether or not they’re the right fit for the job. It's also important to ask follow-up questions that will allow candidates to elaborate on their skills, abilities, and experiences.
If you're currently short on questions like these, Pillar offers a library of more than 1,000 questions specifically tailored to your open roles. With just a couple of clicks, you can add these questions to the interview as prompts so that your focus is fully on the candidate and not the questions.
So we started this article with interview tips for an interviewer and the best interviewer preparation before an interview, let's turn our focus to interview scripts and techniques.
How to start an interview as the interviewer:
- Start with a friendly introduction and something to build rapport: Before you get into the nitty-gritty of the interview, take a few moments to showcase what you've learned about your candidate, build some common bonds, and make them feel welcomed and comfortable.
- Outline your expectations for the interview: Before you begin your questions, outline what you expect from the candidate and explain how the interview process will flow. Explain any follow-up steps or additional interviews they may need to go through before a final decision is made.
Now, it's time to dive into the interview. You've built rapport, outlined expectations, and timelines, and given them a landscape view of the process, what do you say in the interview?
Interview script for an Interviewer:
- Begin with behavioral questions: A great place to start your interview is with a few open-ended questions that will allow the candidate to share their experiences and successes. This gives you an insight into how they work, handle difficult situations, manage challenges, etc. Something like: "So tell me about your last role at (ABC) company, what was your favorite thing about the role and maybe your least favorite thing..."
- Go into specific skills: Once you've heard about their experience and behaviors in general terms, you can then move into specific skills and competencies. Ask questions about technical or soft skills that are required for the role and ask how they've incorporated those qualities in their previous roles. Specific skills could be coding and engineering skills, sales skills, or knowledge of tools, systems, or processes, in any case, you'll be asking questions like, "Tell me about your level of experience with (X)..."
- Be open to dialogue: Don't be afraid to have conversations with your candidate, it's important to make sure you understand their answers and more importantly, that they understand yours as well. Ask probing questions that will help you get a clearer picture of the candidate and don't be afraid to take things a level deeper, "I heard that your previous company had a (blank) tell me about how that affected you?"
- Wrap up with next steps: At the end of an interview, make sure to explain any follow-up steps that need to be taken or if there is anything else they need to do before the next round of interviews. It's important to make sure they know the timeline and expectations that you have for them, including any additional information or documents they need to submit.
If you're truly trying to find the best fit for your company, team, and culture, you'll notice very quickly which candidates have the skills and experience you need. But, don't forget to keep an open mind. Some of the greatest hires in many companies' history were people who didn't quite fit a mold and someone gave them a chance because they saw a level deeper.
By taking the time to ensure that you have a strong understanding of each candidate's abilities and experience, you'll be able to make a more informed decision about who the right hire is for your team.
At Pillar, our mission is to help you make better hires. Our team built a proprietary AI-powered interview intelligence software that can help you lower employee turnover by up to 50%, lower costs per hire, and decrease time-to-hire. If that would benefit you, book a demo to chat with someone from our team.