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How to Ensure a Great Interview Experience

Hiring managers often forget that the job interview is a two-way street: Not only are they evaluating the candidate, but the candidate is evaluating them, as well as their prospective teammates and the company’s culture. It’s important, then, to make sure that the job seeker has a smooth and professional experience when they visit.  

Here’s a checklist of things to do before, during and after your meeting with the candidate. They’re designed to help you have a meeting that’s smooth and productive, and that closes out in the most positive way possible.

Be Prepared

Research the candidate in advance. Of course, you should read their resume and prepare your questions, but also take a look at their LinkedIn profile and run a Google Search to find blog posts or professional articles they may have published. Also, be sure the candidate receives details about the meeting in advance. It doesn’t matter whether they come from you, your recruiter or HR, but the candidate should know who they’ll be meeting with and what they might need to bring with them. Also, give them an idea of what the schedule will be like and how long they should plan on being with you, and be sure to include directions to your office.

Alert Your Team

Tell your team a job candidate will be visiting, the role they’re interviewing for, and what message you’re trying to get across. This way, everyone can help reinforce what you’re saying if they meet the visitor casually.

Have a Disaster Plan

Have a backup plan in case you’re unavoidably detained and can’t reach the candidate to postpone your appointment. Few things are worse to a prospective employee than arriving on-time only to learn that the interview isn’t going to happen. Have a deputy, HR or another manager whom you trust ready to jump in so that you can keep the process moving forward and, more important, avoid making the candidate feel as if their time and energy simply didn’t matter to you.

Be Focused

The interview is about you and the candidate getting to know each other. So avoid checking your email or taking phone calls during the conversation. If something comes up that does demand your attention, be sure the candidate understands it’s an unusual situation that you have no choice but to address.

Listen More Than You Speak

A good interviewer guides candidates through the conversation, but does more listening than talking. Ask open-ended questions and nudge the discussion in a way that gets you the information you need. At the same time, be ready to answer questions about the company and its culture, and try to understand whether the candidate’s needs and yours will align.

Stay Positive

Avoid the urge to bash competitors or say negative things about former employees or the candidate’s current company.

Follow Up

At the end of the interview, give the candidate an idea of when they should hear from either you, HR or their recruiter, and be sure to keep your promise. If you decide not to move forward with an individual, they should get the word from somebody, even if it’s only a brief, professional email. Since many candidates want to be proactive about following up themselves, let them know the protocol they should follow. Can they call you directly, or should they work through their contact in HR or the recruiting agency? Don’t leave them guessing.

A good interview makes the candidate feel as if the job description that captured their attention was accurate, that their time was valued and experience respected, and that they struck up a positive rapport with you and your company. Such feelings can make a big difference, especially when you’re working with some someone who’s highly qualified and may be receiving multiple offers. Prepare, pay attention and follow up, and you’ll show yourself to be the kind of manager the most in-demand professionals want to work for.