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As the war for talent rages on, it's more important than ever for companies to ensure that their interview process is flawless. After all, the goal of an interview is to assess a candidate's qualifications and determine whether or not they would be a good fit for the company - and poorly constructed questions can easily lead to bad hires.
Thus, it falls on the shoulders of the interviewer to ask the right questions, actively listen, and make objective hiring decisions.
These are all vital interviewing skills for managers.
Interviewer skills are important not only for ensuring that the right candidate is hired but also for making sure that the interview process is as efficient and painless as possible.
Here are 8 essential skills that every interviewer should master:
1. Asking the right questions
The first and most important skill for any interviewer is asking the right questions. This means having a good understanding of the job requirements and knowing what questions will assess a candidate's qualifications.
Asking the right questions will also help to put the candidate at ease and make them more likely to open up and give honest answers.
There are also questions that are off-limits in an interview. Here's a list of red-flag questions to help your interviewers stay compliant.
2. Active listening
In order to assess a candidate properly, it's important to be an active listener. This means paying attention to what the candidate is saying, as well as their body language and tone of voice.
Active listening will also help to build rapport with the candidate and make them feel more comfortable during the interview.
3. Making objective decisions
It's important to remember that interviews are not actually personal conversations - they are professional assessment tools. This means that, as much as possible, interviewers should try to remain objective in their decision-making, asking semi-structured questions of each candidate to create an atmosphere of fairness and inclusion.
Of course, it's impossible to completely divorce oneself from personal biases, but it's important to be aware of them and take steps to avoid letting them influence the hiring decision.
After all, this hiring decision will affect the candidate's future.
4. Friendliness and Warmth
While it's important to remain professional, an interviewer should also try to project friendliness and warmth. This will put the candidate at ease and make them more likely to open up and give honest answers.
It will also set a positive atmosphere for the candidate to showcase their strengths and their weaknesses, honestly.
5. Role Familiarity
It's important for the interviewer to have a good understanding of the role that the candidate is applying for, who they will report to, and what their expectations are.
This will help them to ask more relevant and targeted questions.
6. Feel for the team, company culture, and industry.
The interviewer should also have a good understanding of the team and company culture. This will help them to assess whether or not the candidate would be a good fit for the company.
Similarly, it's helpful for the interviewer to have some knowledge of the industry. This will again help to make sure that the terminology is familiar to them so they can get a clear picture of the candidate's future contribution.
7. Strong conversational and interpersonal skills
Of course, all of the skills listed above are worthless if the interviewer doesn't have strong conversational and interpersonal skills.
The interviewer should be able to carry on a conversation comfortably and naturally, without making the candidate feel interrogated. They should also be able to build rapport easily and make the interviewee feel relaxed and comfortable.8. Be process-driven, but flexible.
Finally, it's important to remember that interviewing is an art, not a science. There is no one perfect way to interview someone, and each candidate will be different.
The best approach is to use a variety of questions and assessment methods in order to get the most accurate picture of the candidate's skills, experience, and suitability for the role.
If mastered, the interviewing tips for managers listed above will give any interviewer a significant advantage in their ability to accurately assess candidates.
As you're developing these skills, check out "How to be a good interviewer," on LinkedIn. Written by Nikoletta Bika, Senior Content Marketer at Float, it provides some great tips on helping you master the interview.
Also, consider using interview intelligence software like Pillar.
When it comes to mastering a skill, watching yourself make small mistakes is the fastest and most effective way to learn.
Pillar's interview intelligence platform records and transcribes every interview so you have the ability to watch yourself and hone your skillset.
In order to hire the best candidates, it's essential for managers to brush up on their interviewing skills and techniques. The tips and tricks listed above will help any interviewer to hone their skills and become a master of the craft.
Of course, practice makes perfect.
The more interviews you conduct, the better you'll become at spotting the strengths and weaknesses of each candidate.
One of the top interviewer skills and techniques we've seen is to build rapport first.
In the HBR article, "Strategies for Effective Interviewing," Samuel G. Trull talks about setting the general tone of the interview.
"Think about the general tone you want to set for the interview... Normally, at the beginning of an interview, an allowance should be made for the interviewee to adjust to the interview environment."
These types of interview techniques will allow the candidate to settle in and create a space for forthright communication.
In the first section, we covered 8 basic interviewing skills for every interviewer to master.
In this section, let's dive a bit deeper and look at some specific interviewer skills.
1. Use open-ended questions
An interviewer's job is to get the candidate talking, not to ask them yes or no questions. Asking open-ended questions will encourage the candidate to provide more detailed answers that will give you a better understanding of their skills and experience.
One of the best ways to frame these questions is: "Tell me about a time when you (x). How did you (y) and achieve (z)."
For example, if you were hiring a salesperson: "Tell me about a time when you overcame a difficult objection. How did you overcome it and close the sale?"
2. Stay calm and focused
It can be easy to get caught up in the excitement of the interview and lose focus. However, it's important to stay calm and focused in order to get the most out of the conversation.
This is most difficult when interviewing people who you have a previous relationship with, often from work or school.
It's important to remember that the interview is not a casual conversation, and you need to maintain a professional demeanor.
3. Pay attention to body language
Body language can provide valuable insights into how the candidate is feeling during the interview. Are they slouching in their chair or making eye contact? Are they fidgeting or crossing their arms?
All of these are cues that can help you understand how the candidate is feeling and whether they're being truthful.
This is one of the most important interviewing skills for interviewers.4. Take notes or highlight parts of the interview that will be relevant in future interviews.
Taking notes during the interview is a great way to keep track of important information and ensure that you don't forget anything. It's also helpful to have highlights for panel interviews to showcase skills that will be relevant to teams and managers.
If you're a Pillar customer, this is done automatically for you. Our interview intelligence platform records and transcribes interviews so that they're indexed by topic and searchable. The platform also allows you to provide feedback, score, and highlight important points during the interview.
This is so that you can compare candidates side-by-side objectively.
One of the questions we're asked constantly is: "How to prepare for an interview?
The first thing we recommend is to download the "Ultimate Interview Checklist for Hiring Teams." It's the ultimate checklist for an interviewer to prepare for an interview and gives you a step-by-step process to follow from writing the job description and how to prepare for an interview all the way to making a hiring decision.
Interviewer preparation before the interview is key to having a successful interview. Below are some tips on how to prepare for an interview:
1. Review the job description and requirements
Make sure you understand the role that you're interviewing for and what the job entails. This will help you ask better questions during the interview.
We also recommend comparing the job description with the candidate's resume and LinkedIn profile. This will give you a sense of whether the candidate is a good fit for the role.
2. Come up with a list of questions
Prepare a list of questions that you want to ask the candidate during the interview. This will help keep you focused during the conversation and ensure that you don't forget anything.
3. Do your research
Research the company, the industry, and the specific role that you're interviewing for. This will help you ask better questions and understand the context of the conversation.
4. Practice, practice, practice
Practice your questions with a friend or colleague before the interview. This will help you feel more comfortable during the actual conversation.
5. Set up a quiet interview space
Make sure you have a quiet space set up for the interview. This will help you focus on the conversation and avoid distractions.
6. Test your wifi connection and headphones, and log into your tech stack.
Make sure you have a strong wifi connection and that your headphones are working properly. You should also log into your tech stack in advance so that you're familiar with the interface.
These are great interview guidelines for interviewers.
Over the past 12 months, we've helped companies like Wistia cut time-to-hire in half. If you're currently assessing your interview process and would like to make better hires, schedule a demo to chat with someone from our team.