Interview Techniques for Employers: How to Find the Best Candidates

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Lewis Moore

8

min read

|

3 Jul 2024

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You’re about to make a critical decision for your company - hiring the right candidate. But it’s never as simple as reviewing CVs and asking a few questions. You need a comprehensive strategy to make sure you get the right information from candidates during their interviews. Mis-hiring can be costly, both in terms of time and resources.

To ensure you hire the best talent, follow these steps, starting with thorough preparation. By understanding the role, developing a structured interview process, and formulating effective questions, you build a solid foundation for identifying the right candidates.

1. Preparing for the Interview

1.1 Understanding the Role and Job Description

Before you can find the perfect candidate, you need to have a deep understanding of the role you're hiring for. This involves more than just skimming the job description; it means knowing every nuance of the position. Speak with current employees who excel in similar roles and ask them what skills and traits they deem essential.

Your job description should clearly outline these elements:

  • Key Responsibilities: A detailed list of daily tasks and long-term projects.

  • Required Skills: Both technical skills and soft skills.

  • Experience Level: Specific previous roles or years in the industry.

  • Company Culture: What a candidate can expect from your organisation's culture and ways of working

This clarity will help you avoid ambiguity during interviews and ensure you’re setting realistic expectations.

Pro-tip: Regularly update your job descriptions to reflect the evolving needs of the role. This keeps the relevance and accuracy of the expectations you set with candidates, thus lowering the chances of early attrition.

1.2 Develop a Structured Interview Process

Creating a structured interview process is key to ensuring consistency and fairness. A structured approach helps eliminate bias and allows for a more objective comparison of candidates. First, decide on the interview format, whether it will be one-on-one, panel, or involve practical tests.

Steps to develop a structured interview process:

  1. Create a Timeline: Allocate specific time slots for every interview section.

  2. Standardise Questions: Use the same set of questions for all candidates to maintain fairness.

  3. Utilise Scorecards: Develop a scoring rubric for answers and behaviours.

Evidenced can help you build out this process alongside your ATS. Our Structured Interview Timing feature keeps you on track with timings, reducing cognitive load and enhancing candidate experience.

Pro-tip: Practise your interview process internally before the actual interviews. This will help identify any gaps and refine questions and formats.

1.3 Ask Effective Questions

Effective questioning can make or break an interview. It's important to craft questions that elicit comprehensive responses that reveal a candidate's true potential. Avoid generic questions like "Tell me about yourself," which often yield rehearsed answers. Instead, opt for behavioural and situational questions.

Types of effective questions:

  • Behavioural Questions: "Can you give an example of a time when you had to manage a conflict within a team?"

  • Situational Questions: "If you were given a new project with tight deadlines, how would you approach it?"

  • Technical Questions: Ensure they relate directly to the skills needed for the role.

Pro-tip: Use follow-up questions to dig deeper into the candidate's responses. For example, "What was the outcome?" or "What did you learn from that experience?"

Preparing for interviews in this methodical way ensures that you lay the groundwork for an effective hiring process, ultimately helping you find the best fit for your team.

2. Conducting the Interview

2.1 Creating a Welcoming Environment

A welcoming environment puts candidates at ease and sets the stage for a productive conversation. Start by greeting the candidate warmly and introducing yourself and any other interviewers present. Ensure your technology is set up in advance to avoid any glitches.

Pro-tip: Consider having a quick pre-interview chat to help the candidate relax. Simple questions about their day or interests can break the ice and reduce nervousness.

For enhanced candidate engagement, provide a clear agenda at the beginning of the interview. Let them know the structure of the session and the topics that will be covered. This transparency not only reassures the candidate but also helps manage time efficiently.

Fun fact: According to a Glassdoor survey, 83% of candidates say a negative interview experience can change their mind about a role or company they once liked.

2.2 Techniques for Active Listening and Engagement

Active listening involves giving your full attention to the candidate and demonstrating that you value their responses. This can be achieved through maintaining eye contact, nodding, and using verbal affirmations like "I see" or "That's interesting." Be sure to avoid interrupting them, allowing them to fully express their thoughts. Evidenced uses live transcription so you can capture the conversation in real-time, allowing you to focus on your engagement rather than taking lots of notes.

Pro-tip: Paraphrase the candidate's answers and ask follow-up questions to show you are genuinely interested in their perspective.

To keep the conversation engaging, intersperse your questions with comments and insights related to the candidate's responses. This creates a dialogue rather than a one-sided interrogation. For example, if a candidate mentions a project they're proud of, acknowledge their effort and ask details about the challenges they faced.

2.3 Pay Attention to Non-Verbal Cues

Non-verbal cues can provide significant insights into a candidate's comfort level and authenticity. Pay attention to body language such as posture, hand gestures, and facial expressions. For instance, crossed arms might indicate defensiveness, while leaning forward can suggest engagement and interest. Subtle movements like fidgeting could signal nervousness, which is natural, but understanding these cues can help you better gauge the candidate's confidence and sincerity.

Pro-tip: Mirror the candidate's body language subtly to create a sense of rapport and make them feel more comfortable.

Additionally, silence can be as telling as words. If a candidate takes a moment before answering, it could indicate they are thoughtfully considering their response. Use these pauses to your advantage by observing their non-verbal communication.

2.4 Use Evidenced to Run the Interview and Capture Everything

Utilising technology can streamline the interview process and ensure comprehensive documentation. Evidenced offers a suite of features specifically designed to enhance interview efficiency and accuracy. Our live transcription ensures every word is captured, allowing you to focus on the interaction rather than note-taking. We also support recording and playback of interviews, enabling detailed review and analysis.

Pro-tip: Use the quick bookmarks feature to mark key moments in real-time. This allows for easy reference during post-interview evaluations.

The structured interview timing tool provided by Evidenced helps maintain the flow of the interview, ensuring that all critical areas are covered without running over time. This feature reduces the cognitive load on interviewers, allowing them to deliver a more engaging and focused candidate experience. Additionally, our scoring system enables fair and consistent assessment of all candidates, helping your team make informed hiring decisions.

Real-world application: Many HR professionals have reported that using such structured tools has increased their hiring process's objectivity and reduced bias, leading to better hiring outcomes.

2.5 Discuss Next Steps with Candidates

At the end of the interview, it's crucial to discuss the next steps to maintain transparency and manage candidate expectations. Clearly explain the upcoming stages of the hiring process, including any further interviews, assessments, or reference checks. Provide a timeline for when they can expect to hear back from you. This alleviates any anxiety the candidate might have about the uncertainty of the process.

Pro-tip: Encourage candidates to ask any final questions they might have about the role or your company. This ensures they leave with a positive impression.

3. After the Interview

3.1 Evaluating and Ranking Candidate Performance

Evaluating candidate performance post-interview is essential to finding the best fit for your organisation. Start by gathering your interview notes and any recorded materials, such as video recordings or transcripts. Using a structured scorecard can be beneficial to ensure consistency in evaluation. Rate each candidate on various criteria like technical skills, cultural fit, and problem-solving abilities. This standardisation helps in removing bias and making fairer comparisons.

Evidenced enables you to capture essential information during the interview using questions, ratings, and scorecards. This ensures that you and your team can make informed decisions without missing crucial details. By using these pre-defined scorecards, you can easily compare candidates side by side and identify the top performers.

3.2 Providing Constructive Feedback

Providing constructive feedback to candidates is not only courteous but also beneficial for their career development. Start by highlighting the positive aspects of their performance. Specify the areas they excelled in, such as technical knowledge or effective communication. Follow this by pointing out areas for improvement, but ensure the feedback is actionable. For example, instead of saying "You need to improve your coding skills," you could say, "Consider working on your algorithm efficiency."

Check out our recent guide on the best way to provide feedback.

3.3 Decision-Making and Continuous Improvement in Interview Processes

Making the final decision involves synthesising all the data collected from interviews and evaluations. Use a mix of both qualitative and quantitative data to choose the most suitable candidate. Ensure you review feedback from all team members and reach a consensus. This comprehensive approach minimises the risk of overlooking critical factors. If any disagreements arise, use the recorded interviews and transcripts from Evidenced to resolve disputes by revisiting key moments.

Continuous improvement is critical for refining your interview process. Conduct post-mortem debriefs after hiring decisions to discuss what went well and what didn’t. Identify bottlenecks and areas where the process can be streamlined.

Pro-tip: Regularly update your question bank and scorecards based on the feedback and data collected to keep your interview process relevant and effective.

In conclusion, the effectiveness of your interview process depends significantly on creating a structured, inclusive, and seamless experience for all participants. From preparing thoroughly to conducting and following up flawlessly, using tools like Evidenced can offer you the features needed to excel. Your ability to adapt to modern interviewing techniques and technologies will help you not only attract but also retain the best candidates.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How do I conduct an effective job interview as an employer?

To conduct an effective job interview as an employer, prepare thoroughly by reviewing the job description and candidate's resume. Develop a structured interview process with standardised questions for fairness. Use a mix of behavioural, situational, and technical questions to assess the candidate's skills and fit. Practice active listening, create a welcoming environment, and pay attention to non-verbal cues. Use tools like scorecards to evaluate candidates consistently.

What are some common mistakes employers make during interviews?

Common mistakes employers make during interviews include:

  • Failing to prepare adequately

  • Talking too much instead of listening to the candidate

  • Asking discriminatory or illegal questions

  • Not providing clear information about the role and company

  • Failing to follow up with candidates after the interview

How can I reduce bias in the interview process?

To reduce bias in the interview process:

  • Use a structured interview format with standardised questions for all candidates

  • Develop objective scoring criteria and use scorecards for evaluation

  • Involve multiple interviewers to get diverse perspectives

  • Focus on job-related skills and experiences rather than personal characteristics

  • Use technology like Evidenced to capture and analyse interview data objectively

  • Provide bias awareness training to all interviewers

  • Check out our full guide on unconscious bias