The individuals you select to interview job candidates have a critical role to play: It’s their job to get the best from people.
There’s no upper hand in the interviewer/interviewee relationship. The right candidate is just as excited to come on board as your company is to hire them. They’re questioning and evaluating you at the same time you’re assessing them.
Be sure that your interview team is comprised of A-level players who are strategically chosen and well trained for their role. If not, they could unwittingly turn away top candidates or worse, hire the wrong ones.
Every interview with desired talent has to be the best it possibly can. Period. Here are some pitfalls that can send candidates running to the competition:
- Interviewers lack patience: Especially if the candidate appears uncomfortable. Some people are just shy or nervous. An awkward start to an interview doesn’t necessarily mean a person is wrong for the job. Interviewers should break the ice and help them relax. Start with a question that focuses on the candidate and humanizes the interaction, such as “Where are you from?” Start off on safe ground. You may get a surprisingly good story that sets the stage for excellent dialogue.
- Interviewers talk too much. In other words, they fail to listen. If an interviewer monopolizes the conversation, the best candidates are unlikely to interrupt. A great potential hire may wind up walking away dazed, never to return. During an interview, the candidate should speak 90 percent of the time. Give the conversation time to breathe. The interviewee often will fill silent holes with additional information and examples. Ask follow-up questions, which extend the dialogue, provide detail and may uncover the most revealing answers of all.
- Interviewers fail to answer questions. Of the 10 percent of time when an interviewer is talking, a good part of it should be devoted to answering – as well as asking – questions. When asking a candidate if they have any questions about the company, this is not just a formality. The inquiries that an interviewee makes say a lot about them. The best talent always has good questions. The interviewer should make sure they are answered with as much detail, thought and honesty as they would expect in return.
- Interviewers don’t “sense check.” This is also known as conducting the receptionist test. Interviewers should find out how candidates interact with those who are not on the interview team, for instance, the receptionist, greeter and others they encounter while on the premises. During their actual interview, candidates are “on.” How do they act when not trying to impress? There may be a problematic disconnect between what an interviewee presents and the real person inside.
- Interviewers let their personal biases creep in. They may favor candidates who “look like them.” For example, they may share a beloved alma mater or have common hobbies or interests. Ensure that every interviewee is treated the same. An effective tool for this is a carefully crafted, standard set of questions. Interviewers can vary from them somewhat in the interest of personalizing every interview, but they should generally stay on course. Afterwards, the team can debrief and objectively evaluate candidates based on this uniform criteria.
The best way to ensure great interviews that attract rather than deter great talent is to be prepared. Choose your team with the utmost thought and train them well. Hold a preinterview planning session and decide who should ask which questions. This ensures that you’re organized and optimizes the efficiency of everyone’s time, with none of it wasted on repetition or unnecessary rambling.
- Truly understand what you need. Great employees don’t just perform a job, they solve at least one critical business need. Identify that need and then tailor your team and everything in your selection process to finding the perfect person to meet it.
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