Interviewing : Basic Managerial Skills; V4 Issue 4

Effective interviewing is the key to identifying the best candidate for a job, and creating a positive impression on the candidate. Ineffective interviewing can be a put off for good candidates, lead to bad hiring decisions, be a waste of your time and efforts and negatively impact your company’s Employer Brand.

Tips for effective Interviewing

  1. Prepare:Understand the job description, skills required for the job and candidate’s resume details. Provide the candidate information about your company and job, beforehand. Thus valuable interview time will not be spent in understanding facts already available to both of you. Schedule adequate and uninterrupted interview time and appropriate space. Write down in detail the skills you want to hire for to help you make a decision when you meet the first suitable candidate instead of waiting to meet the “ideal” candidate.

  2. Build a rapport with the candidate:This is essential in being able to elicit high quality information from the candidate. You want the candidate to be able to demonstrate himself/herself at his/her best which is more likely if he/she is at ease with you. Being warm and opening the interview with a few easy, non threatening questions can help you achieve this.

  3. Create a positive experience for the candidate: Treat candidates well from the moment an interview is scheduled. Little things like giving directions to reach your office, offering water when they arrive, not keeping them waiting for too long, thanking them for coming etc can go a long way in creating that positive experience. Whereas discrimination, rudeness, inappropriate questions etc can all leave a bitter taste in the candidate. At least 80% of them will tell up to 10 people about their bad experience!

  4. Use a structured interview format: Research shows that the best way to conduct a job interview is by structuring all aspects of the interview process and content. Asking different questions of each candidate leads to a skewed assessment of who would best perform the job. Ask questions to get particular information, only in the context of a core set of questions asked of all candidates. To avoid the same questions being asked by multiple interviewers, record details of your interview.

  5. Ask the right questions:Be prepared with questions and the way you will ask. Open-ended questions such as "Tell me about X project and your role in it" will get a better response than closed-ended questions such as "So you were leading X project?” Avoid questions that address issues irrelevant to job performance. Understanding the context (i.e. degree of difficulty) of a candidate’s past job performance is critical in ranking competing candidates and choosing the most suitable candidate. Use evidence based answers drawn from past performance. Theoretical knowledge or speculative answers (‘would do’, ‘could do’, ‘should do’) have a low correlation to actual skills/attitude and performance. An interview should focus on specific and key role requirements of the job and not on finding reasons for rejecting the candidate.

  6. Ensure you have face to face meeting and fast closures: You learn much more about candidates when you interview them face-to-face than over the phone. It is important that the time between the initial contact with the candidate, first interview, second interview and the offer is less since good candidates get other opportunities and you can lose them.

  7. Avoid common interviewing errors: Some of the common interviewing errors apart from, not selecting candidates smarter than you, that you need to watch out for are listed below. Detailed note taking during the interview, being aware of possible errors and a reasonable period of time between interviews may help reduce some of these errors.
    • Leniency /Central Tendency/ Stringency ErrorRating all candidates as superior/average /poor.

    • “Similar-To-Me-Error”, Physical Attractiveness: Evaluating an interviewee favourably because he/she is similar in some ways to you or is physically attractive.

    • Stereotyping: Forming an opinion about people of a given gender, religion, race, appearance, or other characteristic without any evidence.

    • First impressions: Making a snap judgment based on people’s first impression.

    • Negative emphasis: Rejecting a candidate based on a small amount of negative information.

    • Halo/horn effect: Allowing candidate’s one strong/weak point to overshadow everything else.

    • Nonverbal bias: Undue emphasis on nonverbal cues like a soft voice that have nothing to do with the job.

    • Contrast effect: Strong candidates who interview after weak ones may appear more qualified than they are because of the contrast between the two.

  8. Sell the company and job opportunity during the interview: Most candidates are evaluating several jobs simultaneously. So, prepare a couple of powerful selling points that you will highlight during the interview. Don’t try telling the candidate everything before you have established that there is mutual interest. Provide candidates with information that will create an interest in them for the job and your company.