How to conduct an interview: Tips for recruiters


Interviews are a crucial step in the recruitment process.Interviews give recruiters (and job candidates) the opportunity to assess the candidate’s qualifications and determine whether the candidate is a good fit for the position and company.

Although the recruiter may be facilitating the meeting, both the recruiter and the job candidate are interviewing each other. Effective interviewing skills are essential for recruiters to identify the best candidates and make informed hiring decisions. A recruiter’s ability to master the interview process will positively impact the hiring process and help recruiters attract top talent, build strong teams and improve candidate experience.

When you have sent an invitation to interview email, it is time to nail the interview itself, learn how to conduct a great interview.

Prepare the job interview

The most crucial step in the recruitment process is interview preparation. Although an interview may last half an hour, the work of a successful interview takes significantly more time behind the scenes. However, if you have a strategic approach to the interviews, it can significantly reduce the time for prep.

Any seasoned recruiter or hiring manager knows a thorough preparation for an interview goes beyond reading the job description posted on the company’s website.

As a recruiter, you want to ensure you are prepared to facilitate the interview and accurately assess if the candidate is a good fit for the responsibilities of the position, the teams they would work with, and the company culture as a whole.

Get to know the job description

Before beginning your resume screening process, thoroughly understand the position and the supervisor’s expectations for a successful hire.

Identify the key set of skills and identify the qualities the ideal hire should possess.

For a truly effective interview, recruiters should have a clear understanding of the skills and experience required for the role and how to assess these skills during the interview.

Before any conversations with candidates, write down several examples of how you can confirm the candidate has the desired skills or qualifications on their resume. This step may be particularly beneficial for more technical or niche roles.

Which skills does the role require

Job descriptions can only capture some of the qualities and soft skills hiring managers seek in candidates, especially for team-based roles. Recruiters should meet with the role’s manager to discuss what the manager would consider a successful candidate. Although some hard skills may be necessary for day-to-day responsibilities, coachability and the ability to work well with other team members may sway favour between candidates otherwise equally qualified.

Additionally, recruiters should take time to verify some of the logistical aspects of the role. Usually, second and third-round interviews will see questions about working hours, remote working policies, benefits, and other aspects of the job which will affect the new hire’s life.

Prepare standard questions for the interview

Before the interview, develop a list of questions to assess the candidate and facilitate conversation. Read through the candidate’s resume and note any experience or qualifications relevant to the position to help you formulate targeted questions.

Start with general questions to help the candidate feel comfortable and establish rapport, then move on to more specific questions related to the job and the candidate’s qualifications.

Open-ended questions are valuable tools. These questions allow the candidate to provide detailed responses, help you understand their problem-solving skills, and follow their thought process in different situations.

Of course, always budget time for the candidate to ask their own questions. These questions are opportunities to gauge their interest in the position and determine if they understand the role well.

We have collected recommendations from 12 recruitment experts on what questions to ask for job interviewsthat help you get started with an upper hand.

Set the stage

First impressions are essential for both you as the recruiter and the candidate. For in-person meetings, confirm the interview space is quiet, comfortable, inviting, and free from distractions. Inform your coworkers or household members (when working from home) that you are interviewing to minimise interruptions.

Test any technology or equipment you plan on using – set up and test beforehand. A broken Zoom link or a faulty mic may not seem like deal-breakers, but these mishaps can detract from the candidate’s experience. Nevertheless, you should also be ready for technical glitches and not make a big deal out of them.

A well-prepared recruiter provides apositive experience for all candidates. Setting the stage, developing targeted interview questions, and knowing the ins and outs of the job, the candidate will feel their application is valued, and the company is genuinely interested in a partnership. Even if not ultimately selected for a position, building positive relationships with candidates boosts the company’s reputation and attracts top-talent applicants in the future.

How to conduct the job interview

The best interviews feel like conversations and may flow differently than the prepared, structured question-and-answer format. Here is an example of a typical interview format; although the interviewer does not need to follow these steps in order, the goal of each step is imperative.

Start with a brief welcome and icebreaker

Starting the interview with a warm welcome and casual conversation can help put the candidate at ease. You’re more likely to get an accurate read on the candidate if they feel comfortable. When conducting an in-person interview, offering the candidate tea, coffee or water is always a good idea.

Some common icebreaker-type questions include asking the candidate about their interests, hobbies, or recent achievement. The candidate should not feel like they are already assessed based on these answers so keep them as casual as possible.

Introduce yourself, the company, and the role

Firstly, take a few minutes to introduce yourself, your title, and briefly describe your role in the company. After introducing yourself, introduce the company and describe the position the candidate is applying for. The goal is to demonstrate how the job fits within the company and the high-level job responsibilities. This is an opportunity to explain why the position is open and what the company considers the ideal candidate. Introducing yourself and the company first lets the candidate prepare and gather themselves for the upcoming interview questions.

Ask job-specific questions

Asking role-specific questions to assess the candidate’s experience and qualifications for the position. Take this time to confirm the candidate is well-versed in their certifications, hard skills, and any other skills necessary for the day-to-day responsibilities. Questions requiring the candidate to explain how they dealt with specific situations or solved a particular problem are especially insightful.

Use this portion of the interview to asses any other soft skills or qualities desired by the hiring manager. You can gauge the candidate on these skills not just on their answers, but their tone, and overall presentation.

Follow-up questions are essential in this portion of the interview. Requesting candidates to elaborate on their responses may help you learn more about the candidate’s skills and experience and better understand their communication skills and thought processes.

Give the candidate a chance to ask questions

Leave time towards the end of the interview for the candidate’s questions. The candidate’s questions provide valuable insight into the candidate’s priorities, gaps in knowledge of the role, or confidence in their ability to be successful in the role. You can use this time to understand the candidate’s level of interest and enthusiasm for the position and the company. It also gives the opportunity to address concerns or questions the candidate might have.

Describe the next steps

Finally, before ending the job interview, it is important to let the candidate know what to expect moving forward. This can include letting them know when they can expect to hear back from you, and if selected, what the rest of the interview process will look like.

Letting the candidate know how many people are in the selection pool is also good practice and adds transparency to the recruitment process.

Also, don’t forget to thank the candidate for the interview and their time.

Take interview notes

It is a best practice to take notes about the interview. Depending on the interviewer, notes are usually taken during or immediately after the interview.

Taking notes during or immediately after a job interview can be highly beneficial for several reasons:

1.) Improved recall:It can be challenging to remember specific details from each candidate’s interview, especially when interviewing multiple candidates for the same position. Taking notes helps you remember key points and impressions, which can be crucial when making a final decision.

2.) Objective evaluation: Documenting your observations and impressions during or right after the interview helps ensure that your assessment remains objective and focused on relevant factors. This can minimise the influence of unconscious biases or emotions on your decision-making process. Teamdash’s ATS includes a Scorecards feature where you can add your assessments.

3.) Consistency: Taking notes allows you to maintain a consistent evaluation process across all candidates. You can easily refer back to your notes and compare candidates based on the same criteria, ensuring a fair and equitable hiring process.

4.) Justification of decisions: Should any questions arise regarding your hiring decision, having detailed notes can provide evidence and justification for your choice. This can be particularly helpful in case of internal disagreements, or if legal issues arise related to the hiring process.

5.) Feedback for candidates: Providing constructive feedback to unsuccessful candidates is an essential aspect of the hiring process. Your notes can serve as a valuable resource to add specific feedback to your job rejection email on areas of improvement, potentially helping candidates in their future job searches.

6.) Improve your interviewing skills: Regularly reviewing your notes and evaluation process can help you identify areas where you can improve your interviewing techniques, questions, or overall hiring process, ultimately leading to better hiring decisions in the long run.

7.) Training and onboarding: When a candidate is hired, your notes can serve as a helpful reference for your HR team, allowing them to tailor the onboarding process to the candidate’s strengths and areas of improvement. This can lead to a more efficient onboarding experience and better employee performance.

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