Interviewing Skills for Managers

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Interviewing Skills for Managers

Interviewing skills are a critical part of any hiring manager's toolkit. The ability to ask the right questions, listen carefully, and discern what candidates are really saying (and not saying) can mean the difference between hiring a top performer and ending up with an employee who never should've made the cut - what Liz Wiseman, author of "Multipliers," would call a "diminisher."

Unfortunately, the decision to hire someone is rarely an easy one. You're about to invest a lot of money and resources into this person, not to mention put your brand on the line for someone you've only met a handful of times.

It would be nice if we could tell you there's some simple, foolproof way to hire the right person every time. But we can't. There isn't one. What we can do is give you the tools to make interviews as transparent as possible and highlight interviewing skills for managers to master that will make you a great interviewer.

  1. Asking great questions. We like semi-structured interview questions because they give you the ability to paint a scenario that would be relevant to a candidate's work in the role they're being hired to do. Questions like: "Tell me about a time when you fell short of a quarterly objective. How were you able to learn from that experience and exceed goals the next quarter?"
  2. Listening for what's there, and what's not. This isn't just about hearing the words that are being said but also taking note of what's not being said. Pay attention to body language and tone. If a candidate is fidgeting or seems hesitant to answer certain questions, there may be something they're not comfortable sharing, asking additional probing questions like: "It seems like that last question hit home, tell me what you're feeling about (x)."
  3. Presence. Watching a candidate closely to see how they react to things is a skill in itself. Body language can tell you a lot about what someone is thinking or feeling, and it can be easy to miss if you're not paying attention. Remember that there are some queues that are common to humans, and some that are individual, so body language can be enlightening but that doesn't mean it's easy to decode.
  4. Asking follow-up questions. If a candidate gives a vague answer, or worse, dodges the question altogether, don't let them off the hook. Follow up with specific questions that will force them to provide a more detailed response. For example, if they say they "handled" a difficult customer service issue, you might ask: "What specifically did you do to diffuse the situation?"
  5. Gauging cultural fit. This is harder to quantify but no less important. You want to make sure the person you're hiring will be a good fit for your company's culture. To do that, you need to have a clear understanding of what your company's culture is. Once you do, look for qualities in candidates that match. For instance, if you have a team of extroverted former athletes who love to compete and work from the office even though the company policy allows them to work remotely, it may not be a great fit to put an introverted person who loves to work in a quiet secluded environment on that team.

Interviewing is a dynamic and perishable skill. To make the process easier, interview intelligence software powered by AI can help by analyzing and providing feedback on your interviews and making you aware of things you may have missed. It also helps you create interview training for employees who may be part of panel interviews. With practice and the right tools, you'll be able to quickly and accurately assess whether someone is the right fit for your team.

Interviewing Skills for Interviewers

In the first section, we talked about soft skills - primarily the ability to ask great questions, actively listen, and read people. Now, let's focus on how to improve interview skills. Let's build an example scenario to give some context to the following tips for interviewing someone for a job.

You're hiring for an HR position and you've just finished the first interview with a candidate. The interview went well, but one of the items you've noted is that this candidate seems to give long drawn-out answers, but struggles to get to the point of the question. This is a problem because "brevity" is a key metric you measure in your hiring process. And, it's listed in your employee training as one of your core interviewing skills for interviewers. If you chose to hire this person, how would you help them improve?

How to improve interview skills for interviewers:

  1. Conduct regular training sessions and create tools to help set the stage for interviews.
  2. Utilize interview intelligence software to record and give you feedback on their interviews.
  3. Coach this new HR person to communicate with brevity.

It can also be helpful to send an "interviewer preparation before the interview" email to each person interviewing. Pillar, an interview intelligence platform, automates this process because we think it's vital to a great candidate experience. This email highlights the candidate’s skills and reminds the interviewer of their role in the process.

Interviewing Skills for 1st-Time Managers

If you're a 1st-time manager, interviewing can seem daunting. But if you follow a simple framework, you'll be able to build the confidence you need to interview with ease. Call this, "Interview Training for Hiring Managers 101"

First, be very clear about what you're looking for and what you're not. Before you start the interviewing process, take some time to define the role you're hiring for and create an ideal candidate profile. This should be a primary recruiting guideline for hiring managers. What skills and qualities are required? What can you compromise on? This will help you, filter candidates, easily and allow you to focus on the candidate in the interview.

Then, create a scorecard - Once you've defined the role, create a scorecard with criteria that each candidate will be judged on. Remember that this is a list of skills and past experience required for this role. It's illegal to judge a candidate on gender, race, marital status, or other personal traits. This will help to keep interviews consistent and fair.

Use semi-structured questions in the interviews - When interviewing someone for a job, it's important to ask both general questions (to get to know them better) and specific questions about the role. This will help you get a well-rounded view of the candidate. Using semi-structured interview questions is also important to keep things fair and equitable.

Finally, take your time to make a decision - After each interview, debrief with your team and review the scorecards. Give yourself time to sleep on it before making

Create virtual interview training for hiring managers with this process in Lessonly by Seismic, Trainual, Google workspace, or the cloud provider of your choice so that 1st-time managers and panel interviewers can refer back to it when interviewing. If you're a Pillar customer, all of the tools and coaching materials are easily accessible within your dashboard.

Interview Techniques for Employers

So you've mastered the basics of verbal and non-verbal communication, created interview questions, screened your first handful of candidates, and now your first interview is on your calendar. It's okay to freak out a little.

Let's talk about interviewing techniques for interviewers to help you ace the interview and give the candidate a great experience.

First, it's important to be clear about what the goal of the interview is. The primary purpose of the interview is to gain an understanding of the candidate's ability to do the job. However, it's also important to assess whether or not the candidate is a good fit for your company's culture. Be sure to keep these two goals in tension.

Show up a few minutes early, find a nice quiet spot to interview, test your lighting to make sure the candidate can see you well, log in to any systems you'll use during the interview, and test each one to make sure that there won't be any delays.

Now, what are you going to say? We recommend introducing yourself and the company, setting the agenda, having a couple of icebreakers prepared, and then diving right into your semi-structured questions. Remember to take notes and be sure to ask each candidate the same questions.

If you're interviewing for a remote role, it's important to ask questions about the candidate's ability to work independently and manage their time well. For in-person roles, be sure to ask questions about the candidate's ability to travel to a location, collaborate with others, and handle difficult customer interactions.

Close the interview by asking if the candidate has any questions and giving them an idea of the next steps.

After the interview, take some time to fill out the candidate's scorecard and share your feedback with the hiring manager. It's important to make a decision quickly so that you can move on to the next candidate if the one you interviewed isn't a good fit.

The goal is to have at least three to four candidates for each role that you're hiring for. This will give you a good pool to choose from.

When you've made your decision, be sure to reach out to the candidate and let them know the outcome of the interview. If they didn't get the job, be sure to provide feedback about their performance in the interview so that they can improve for next time.

Interview techniques for employers may vary slightly from interview techniques for recruiters, but in general, the process will look very similar. The main difference is that recruiters may need to ask different types of questions to assess a candidate's fit for the role.

Hopefully, this article has given you a good overview of interviewing skills and techniques. Be sure to check out our other articles on recruiting best practices for more tips and tricks. Pillar was built with a single mission, to help you make better hires. If you'd like to see how we can help you do that, schedule a demo, today!