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8 Tips for the Inexperienced Interviewer

You just found out that you’re part of a hiring team.  It is great news for your growing organization, but wait…you haven’t done this in a while (if ever!). 

The interviewer’s job is critical and the stakes are high as organizations look to make every hire count.  If you’ve never interviewed anyone, or if you’re feeling a little rusty, here are some tips that may help:

  1. Prepare questions ahead of time—Review the candidate’s resume prior to the interview.  This may seem like common sense, but too many interviewers either never receive the candidate’s resume or read the document as they are walking into the interview room.  This puts you at a disadvantage from the start.  By reading the resume ahead of time you will have a better idea of the candidate’s background and experience – and you’ll be better prepared to ask more meaningful questions. 100 Potential Interview Questions
  2. Just in case…—Inevitably, there will come a time when someone will hand you a candidate’s  resume as you walk into the interview room.  If that happens, don’t panic.  A good way to give yourself some time to put your thoughts together is to ask the candidate to tell you a little bit about themselves.  This will allow you to get information from the candidate and it can give you a chance to listen for clues for follow-up questions. 
  3. Master behavioral questions—It may be difficult to get a good read on a person’s management or work style by asking traditional interview questions.  Behavioral interview questions allow interviewers to gain better insight into how a person would react in or respond to certain hypothetical situations.  Examples include: “Tell me about a time when you dealt with a particularly difficult colleague” or “Tell me about a time when you successfully handled several competing/conflicting priorities?” Questions like these allow the interviewer to see more deeply into how a person thinks and how they would respond in your environment. 
  4. Ask about your company—Ask the interviewee what they can tell you about your company and the position they are interviewing for.   From this question, you’ll be able to quickly determine whether the interviewee is REALLY serious about working at your company and has done their research, or if your company is just one stop on the interview junket.
  5. Gather the interview team beforehand—If you’re part of an interview team, meet ahead of time to discuss what information you need from the candidate and assign each interviewer a different topic.  This will allow the team to gather the most information during the time allowed and it will minimize the number of repeat questions – plus it will show the candidate that you are a thoughtful and organized team—traits many people look for in an employer.
  6. Sell the company— During interviews, candidates are actively selling themselves to the hiring team, but interviewers should also be actively selling their company/opportunity to candidates.   Even in a bad market, many candidates have multiple interviews—and offers. Let interviewees know about the great programs, benefits and perks of the job.   Highlight exciting projects, high-profile clients, your culture or your community involvement to set your company apart.
  7. Beware of “Don’t Ask” questions—Do you know what questions are appropriate or legal to ask during an interview?  Most people know that “How old are you?” crosses the line, but there are many other questions that have the potential to get you into trouble, including: “Are you married?” “Do you have children?” “What year did you graduate?” A good rule of thumb is to stay away from a question that you are unsure about.  Better to be safe than sorry.  Keep It Legal: Interviewing and Hiring on the Right Side of the Law
  8. Be a shadow—If you haven’t conducted an interview in a while, consult with your direct supervisor for advice.  You can also ask someone else in the organization that may have an interview scheduled if you can observe.  That way you can see an interview “live.”  Also tap into the HR department to see if they have any tips, prepared questions or advice for you. 

Being an interviewer is one of the most important roles in the company.   You may be out of interviewing practice, but by following these tips you can interview like a seasoned pro.

Photo Credit: College Monster.com