Having a good conversation with a candidate helps you understand who they are, their skill set, and what they’d bring to your team.
So, being a good interviewer goes hand-in-hand with hiring successful talent that can contribute to meeting your business goals.
Read on to learn everything you need to know about becoming an effective interviewer.
Why is it important to be a good interviewer?
Being a good interviewer is essential because it helps you hire the right people for the job. Therefore, the skill is key for any employer that wants to hire the right candidates who are motivated, able to do the job, and are a good cultural fit for the company.
Being a good interviewer also shows respect for the interviewee. It demonstrates that you value their time and insights and are willing to invest the effort to get to know them better.
How to Be an Effective Interviewer
The best interviewers make interviews feel like conversations instead of interrogations, and they work to develop rapport with candidates to help them feel comfortable opening up and sharing information about themselves.
Let’s go over how to do this.
1. Start the conversation on a lighter note.
Candidates may be nervous at the beginning of the interview, so it can always be helpful to make small talk and begin the conversation on a lighter note before the actual interview starts. However, make sure you don’t spend so much time on small talk that you need to cut the interview short later on.
2. Do your research.
Re-review the candidate’s application, resume, and cover letter before the interview, so you know their qualifications and why they’re interested in the role.
This gives you a refresher on their background and helps you generate focused questions about what they’ve already shared that will help you dig deeper into their interest in and relationship to the role.
3. Ask open-ended questions.
Open-ended questions encourage candidates to elaborate on their answers and give you more information to work with. When you do this, ensure that you give the interviewee time to answer the question entirely.
This also means avoiding yes or no questions when not entirely necessary. For example, you can confirm with someone that they spent three years working at their last company, but asking a yes or no question about their role at said company doesn’t give you the information you’re looking for.
3. Listen more than you talk.
Aim to do more listening so you can gather as much information as possible. This is a quick tip because it leads directly to the next tip: practicing active listening.
4. Practice active listening.
Active listening is a communication style that involves focusing entirely on the person who is speaking so you can take in what they’re saying and participate in the conversation in a meaningful way.
It’s important during interviewers because it helps you learn more about the candidates and ask relevant follow-up questions when they have said something you want to learn more about.
Active listening is also an important part of being a good interviewer because it shows respect for the candidate. They can likely tell if you’re not fully immersed in what they’re saying, and if they feel you’re not interested, they may feel less confident in sharing information about themselves. Instead, active listening shows them that they have your full attention and you’re genuinely interested in learning more about them.
5. Take notes.
Taking notes goes hand in hand with active listening because it shows that you’re actively listening to what the candidate is saying. It is also a way for you to note something a candidate says that you want to ask them about later instead of interrupting their train of thought.
Taking notes also gives you a refresher on your conversations with candidates when you’re making final hiring decisions in the future.
6. Be aware of your body language.
Body language that shows attention and respect for the candidate can help them feel more comfortable opening up and sharing information about themselves. As a result, your body language during an interview makes a big difference in being a good or bad interviewer.
So, aim to make eye contact, smile, and avoid crossing your arms or fidgeting. A lack of these things can make an interviewee feel like you don’t want to be there, making them feel anxious and that you care about what they have to say.
8. Eliminate distractions.
Eliminating distractions is helpful for you and the candidate because anything that shifts focus away from the conversation can affect how well the interview goes. For example, an alarm that goes off can cause someone to lose their train of thought on a valuable piece of information.
9. Be prepared to answer questions.
Most candidates will have questions for you, such as what a day-to-day looks like for the role they’ve applied for, what company culture is like, and what your team is like, and you should be prepared to answer them.
Candidates are also interviewing you and your business, so answering their questions and giving them the information they need helps them ensure they are a good fit.
For example, if a candidate realizes that they might not be a good fit for your company, they save you the stress that can come from someone accepting an offer and promptly leaving the company if they come to that realization after they’ve begun the job.
Being a good interviewer helps your team meet your goals.
Someone who can put candidates at ease and help them feel comfortable talking about their experience and sharing their skills is a great interviewer because the more you learn about the candidate, the easier it is to make an informed decision about their fit for the role.
Next time you have an interview, leverage the tips mentioned above, and you’ll likely find yourself having valuable conversations and hiring impressive candidates that can help you meet your business goals.