Let’s face it: Interviewing doesn’t come naturally to everyone. But all managers can learn the skills needed to help your company get the best hires out there.
Effective interviewing is something everyone involved in hiring must — and can — learn to do, according to Harry Chambers, author of the book Finding, Hiring, and Keeping Peak Performers: Every Manager’s Guide. Here’s his advice for your hiring managers.
Start of the interview
One goal of interviewing is to get someone to speak as openly and honestly as possible. It’s not easy, but these tactics can help get the candidate ready to talk:
- The greeting — If possible, managers should meet candidates where they’re waiting and walk with them to the interview room. That gives them a chance to start some casual conversation and make the candidate feel comfortable.
- The opening — Managers should start interviews by thanking candidates for their time and letting them know what to expect in the process. (Note: At this point, only list steps the candidate will definitely go through.) Hearing that their time is valued and knowing what to expect helps put candidates at ease.
One key to successful interviewing is differentiating between things candidates can learn on the job (i.e., specific skills) and qualities that aren’t likely to change.
It’s that latter category managers really need to pay attention to. Here are some key interview questions they can ask:
- Attitude — A good way to learn about a candidate’s attitude is to pay attention to how he or she talks about former jobs and bosses. If managers hear any hints of negativity, they can probe further to see if the candidate has a history of being negative.
- Adaptability — It’s important to know how candidates adapt to new situations and how they handle being asked to take on new tasks and challenges — even ones they didn’t volunteer for. Managers can ask questions such as: “What are some things you dislike that your current job requires you to do? How have you handled that? Have you ever tried to avoid doing them?”
- Work ethic — Ask candidates to define what constitutes a good work ethic and give examples of people they’ve worked with that had strong or poor work ethics. Then ask for specific examples of how the candidates themselves have displayed those qualities.
What to avoid
Here are some common manager mistakes that lead to less effective interviews:
- Not asking for clarification — Managers should never be afraid to probe deeply and ask candidates to explain statements that weren’t clear. Too often, candidates are let off the hook when they make statements that don’t make much sense.
- Not drilling down enough — Interviewers always should look for specific, concrete examples to back up candidates’ statements. The goal of most questions is to drill down to a specific action the candidate took.
- Making candidates wait — This is one everybody knows, but it’s always worth reminding managers.