Interview Preparation Checklist

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Interview Preparation Checklist

"Preparation is the key to success." It's common to hear quips like this before an interview, and your candidates have heard them as well - probably "ad nauseum."

The fact is, most of your candidates are coming to the interview after reviewing an online interview preparation checklist like Hubspot's, "Interview Preparation Checklist: 18 Tips to Get the Job."

They're prepared, are you?

As the interviewer, you need to be just as prepared as your candidates, maybe more. Not only does it make for a better interview, but you'll also be able to ask more informed questions.

To help you prepare, we've put together an interview preparation checklist for you. This resource will give you a high-level overview of the entire process from writing the job post to making an offer.

It's the most efficient hiring process we've seen that also gets results.

You'll want a checklist for each step of the process.

Pre-Interview Checklist:
This is the first step in your interview process, and it's arguably the most important. This is when you set the tone for the entire interview. If you do it right, your candidates will be more engaged and excited about the opportunity.

Here's what you need to do in the pre-interview stage:

1. Define the role: The first step is to define the role you're looking to fill. This seems like a no-brainer, but you'd be surprised how many people don't start with the end in mind.

If the goal is to make a great hire, then we need to know what a great hire looks like.

The best way to do this is by creating a job posting that accurately reflects the role you're looking to fill. Make sure you include:

The title of the position
A brief description of the company
Your location (if the role isn't remote)
The necessary qualifications
The desired skills
The responsibilities of the role

Make sure that the job post is inclusive. LinkedIn has a great tool for this as well as Templates to copy and paste.

2. Screen Candidates: Once you have your job post up, the next step is to start screening resumes and LinkedIn Profiles. You should aim to spend no more than 5-10 seconds on each resume.

The goal here is to identify which candidates have the qualifications and skills that match what you're looking for.

Now invite them in for phone screens and interviews.

3. Begin the interview process: Using the points above to create a semi-structured questioning framework. Think of this as your interview template for managers.

Ask each candidate the same basic questions, then probe deeper based on their answers.

Ever wonder how Oprah or Barbara Walters got to be so good at interviewing? check out, "Tips from 5 of the World’s Best Interviewers,” to see how you can help your candidates feel seen and heard.

4.Post interview:

After each interview, take some time to reflect on the candidate. How did they do? Would you want to work with them?

You should also debrief with your team (if you have one) and get their feedback.

The goal here is to identify any red flags and make sure that you're on the same page about each candidate.

Thomson Reuters has a great 8-step post-interview checklist for employers. It lists an interview follow-up process that’s sure to give candidates a great hiring experience.

Interview Preparation Questions

You know the saying, "There's no such thing as a stupid question?"

Well, that doesn't apply to interviews.

Asking the wrong questions is a surefire way to botch an interview and even hire the wrong candidate.

Interview preparation questions and answers are a dime a dozen on the internet. We've all read them, but how many of us can say that we've used them?

The problem with most interview preparation questions is that they're not relevant to the role.

Interviewers used to ask questions like:
1. What are your weaknesses?
2. Why did you leave your last job?
3. What are your salary expectations?
4. How old are you?
5. Are you married?
6. Do you have children?

So what questions should you be asking instead?

Behavioral Questions:

1. Can you tell me about a time when you had to deal with a difficult customer?
2. Can you give me an example of a time when you had to go above and beyond your job duties?
3. Tell me about a time when you had to work with a team member who was difficult to get along with.

These will help you analyze a candidate's ability to work on a personal level with your team and customers.

If you're hiring remote workers, check out, "8 Digital Interview Questions and Answers Every Recruiter Should Ask Remote Workers."

This will help you assess a worker's ability to communicate effectively, stay organized, and engaged, and stay on task.

You'll also want to assess a candidate's technical ability to perform effectively in the role.

Technical Questions:
1. What platforms are you comfortable working with?
2. Have you ever used (X) tool? If so, how did you find it? Why did you switch?
3. What is your experience with (Y)?
4. Walk me through a time when you had to troubleshoot a difficult problem.
5. Can you share a project that you did in the past that you're particularly proud of?

Remember, the questions you ask should be relevant to the role. There's no need to ask about a candidate's experience with something that they won't be using in their day-to-day life.

Virtual Interview Preparation Checklist

If you're conducting virtual interviews, here's a quick virtual interview preparation checklist.

First, make sure that you have a quiet and private space set up. This will help reduce distractions and background noise for both you and the candidate.

You should also test your audio and video equipment ahead of time to make sure that there are no technical difficulties.

How you prepare for a video interview will define the experience for both you and the candidate.

It's important to remember that body language is still important in a virtual interview.

Make sure that you're making eye contact with the camera, not the screen. This will help create a more personal connection with the candidate.

And don't forget to smile!

Having a virtual interview cheat sheet or interview intelligence software with prompts on hand will also help you stay on track and interview candidates objectively.

Finally, it's a good idea to have a backup plan in case of technical difficulties. For example, you could switch to a phone call if the video connection is poor.

Interview Preparation
Checklist for Employers

As an employer, it's your responsibility to ensure that both you and the candidates are prepared for the interview.

The level of interviewer preparation before the interview will define its outcome.

This means having clear objectives, a list of questions ready, as well as any materials that you might need, such as technical assessments or portfolios on hand.

It's also important to remember that an interview is a two-way street.

You should be prepared to sell the company, culture, and role to the candidate. This includes having an answer for why the role is open and what the company can offer the candidate.

Each of your team members should be briefed on the candidate, how to perform the interview, and have access to coaching and tools like "how to conduct an interview" examples.

Many tech companies use Google Workspace. Creating a document called "conducting an interview checklist" for review before panel interviews is a great place to start.

Including a list of questions and objectives to keep in mind through the hiring process will ensure that everyone is on the same page and asking similar questions.

It's also important to have a consistent process for follow-up after the interview. This could include sending thank-you notes or automated emails, scheduling debrief meetings, or conducting reference checks.

Pro tip: using an interview intelligence software can automate many of these steps for you.

Zoom Interview Preparation

Zoom has been an invaluable tool during COVID. The ability to meet with anyone in the world with wifi has transformed how we do business globally.

It's also allowed employers to access candidates anywhere in the world.

If you're conducting Zoom interviews, here's a quick Zoom interview preparation checklist:

1. First, make sure that you have a quiet and private space set up. This will help reduce distractions and background noise for both you and the candidate.
2. You should also test your audio and video equipment ahead of time to make sure that there are no technical difficulties.
3. It's important to remember that body language is still important in a Zoom interview. Make sure that you're making eye contact with the camera, not the screen.
4. Proper lighting is also key for Zoom interviews. Make sure that the light is in front of you and not behind you, as this will create a shadow over your face.
5. If possible, use a headset to avoid any echo or feedback issues.

Zoom interview questions for employers may differ slightly from a face-to-face interview and focus on a candidate's ability to perform in a remote role.Questions like:

"How do you stay productive when working from home?"
"What technology do you use to stay connected with team members?"
"What is your experience with video conferencing tools like Zoom/Skype/WebEx?"
"What are some strategies you use to manage distractions when working remotely?"
"What does a great remote culture look like to you?"

These can all be set up in your interview intelligence software as question prompts to ask candidates during the interview.

Phone Interview
Preparation Checklist

Phone interviews are often best as a quick screening to identify the most qualified candidates before inviting them to an in-person interview.

Before the interview, look through a candidate's LinkedIn or social profiles and find something interesting to use as an icebreaker.

How to start a phone interview as the interviewer:
1.) First, introduce yourself and kick off the conversation with the ice-breaker.
2. Then, give the candidate a brief overview of the role that they applied for.
3. Next, explain how the phone interview will work. This includes letting the candidate know how long the call will be, what topics will be covered, and if there will be a chance to ask questions at the end.
4. Then, jump into the first question.

Asking a mixture of interview questions and role-specific questions is often most effective in a phone interview.

Common phone interview questions like:
"What do you know about our company?"
"What sparked your interest in this role?"
"What does your ideal career path look like?"

And questions about the role, like:
"What qualifications do you have that make you a good fit for this job?"
"Can you describe what your day-to-day would look like in this role?"

These questions and others like them can be added to a phone interview preparation checklist to help you stay on track and make the most of your time.

Pillar's interview intelligence software can help you simplify your interview process, saving you time and your company money. Check out our hiring calculator to see how much you could be saving!

From scheduling to candidate follow-up, our software automates the entire process for you.

Plus, we've got a huge library of questions that you can use for both phone and Zoom interviews.

If you're looking for an easier way to conduct your interviews, Pillar is the answer. Request a demo today!