How to Interview Job Candidates

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How to Effectivly Interview Job Candidates and Ask the Right Questions

Once you have shortlisted the best candidates, it is time to prepare for the interview.
Yes, a face-to-face interview is the holy grail of interviews, but it is not the only method. Many other options exist, such as phone, video, or group interviews. It’s a good idea to add one or more of the different types of interviews to your interviewing process.

Listed below are five of the most common interview methods used. Each helps the interviewer vet prospective candidates and ultimately select the right one.

Telephone Interview

The telephone interview is a staple across all industries, and that’s not without good reason. Telephone interviews work as an initial screening process, allowing employers to quickly gauge candidates. This method can help you weed out unqualified candidates before you commit to a long-form interview with them.

Telephone interviews are a great default starting point in the interview process. As such, it is a practice you might want to consider implementing. When adopting this method, use the interview to discuss generic topics with candidates, such as their current workplace challenges, reasons for seeking change, and job expectations.

Your goal at this stage is simply to get a sense of the person on the other end of the call. You want to assess their promptness, confidence, communication skills, preparedness, and general mannerisms. These interviews give you the time to assess if the candidate merits a face-to-face interview.

Video Interview

While telephone interviews are useful, video interviews are quickly surpassing them in popularity. It’s easy to see why: With video, employers can assess the candidate’s knowledge, manner, and body language. In this capacity, a video interview is similar to a virtual face-to-face interview.

When should video be used in the interview process? Video is the right method to use when you’re hiring for critical, management-level positions. In this case, video will help you gain a deeper understanding of a candidate’s potential, including an assessment of their communication skills and approachability. To host a video interview, you can use FaceTime, Hangouts, or Skype.

There are additional ways to incorporate video into the hiring process. One-way video interviews allow candidates to record themselves answering a series of preset questions, and can then be sent to your company via a specified link or email. This video style is helpful if you need more information about a candidate, but are not prepared or able to chat live.

Group Interview

A group interview allows you to invite and interview several candidates at the same time. In this type of interview, you can easily assess how individual candidates interact with one another.

How does each candidate function in a group setting? Are they a team player? Your goal is to see if any candidates stand out from their peers.

If you have a lot of qualified candidates and few positions to fill, group interviews can work well. They can help you quickly zero in on the strongest team players and collaborators.

If you choose to utilize this interview method, use it as “step two” of your interviewing process. For “step one,” use a phone or video interview.

Panel Interview

A panel interview is the exact opposite of a group interview. With a panel interview, you invite one interviewee and a group of interviewers for the event. This method allows the company to gain multiple opinions on a single candidate, which can then lead to more intensive candidate consideration or to hiring decisions that are beneficial across the whole company.

The group of interviewers, called the panel, often consists of different C-suite executives. One interviewer heads the panel and acts as chairperson. This type of interview is common in public sector jobs.

When hiring for high-ranking positions, it’s a good idea to make use of a panel interview. If a position will affect an organization’s strategic direction, use a panel interview. A panel interview is also recommended if a hiring decision requires multiple opinions.

Individual Interview

Last but not least, there is the individual interview. This face-to-face interview is conducted between the HR manager and the candidate. In small businesses, the founder or owner might conduct these interviews instead. If a new hire does not necessitate a panel interview, an individual interview should be the last step in the hiring process.

As a final suggestion, your interviewing process should be a three-step process at the very least. It should start with either a telephone or a video interview. This may be followed by a group interview at your office. Candidates who shine in the group interview should be vetted by a panel, if possible. If not, a final individual interview will work.
Now that your interview methods are decided, let’s move to the interview itself.


How to Conduct A Successful Interview

For most aspects, conducting a successful interview is the same across interview methods. Here’s a quick brief of the steps involved:

Before the actual interview:

As always, prepare for the interview well in advance of the scheduled date and time. Tasks to undertake during this stage include:

  • Ensuring all interviewers are aware of the elimination and selection criteria candidates successfully passed. Make sure you are aware of these too.
  • Reviewing the long-form job description to revise the job roles and responsibilities.
  • Preparing a list of standard questions  that target the “bare minimums” required. These include questions about education, skills, experience and more. For detailed help on preparing interview questions, visit Chapter 9.
  • Preparing a list of measurable criteria to judge the candidate. Possible criteria include the candidate’s response style, communication skill, tone, confidence, and body language.
  • Reviewing the candidate’s resume and noting points that need clarification or spark interest.

During the interview:
To ensure candidates are not left waiting, arrive for the interview on time.

  • Once the candidate has arrived:
  • Introduce yourself and anyone else present in the room.
  • Start by setting expectations for the process. Explain how long the interview the will take, and what do you hope to achieve at the end of the process. Quickly review what happens after the interview as well. Inform them that they can ask questions at the end of the interview as well.
  • Next, provide a job description and begin asking the questions prepared you’ve prepared. Take notes where required.
  • Once questioning is complete, wrap up the interview with an overview of your organization. This includes what you do, benefits provided, and so on.

After the Interview

  • Invite the candidate to ask questions. These can be about the interview, organization, job role or anything else on their mind. Provide answers to the questions asked.
  • Review the next steps for the candidate. These can include expected response time or how to reach your company with further questions.
  • Initiate the debrief process once the candidate has left. (See Chapter 10 for details on interview debriefing.)

Chapter 10 – List of Job Interview Questions to Ask Applicants >

Additional Resources on How to Interview Job Candidates

  • How to Interview Job Candidates: Ask the Right Questions
  • 15 Tips for Improving Your Skills Interviewing Job Candidates
  • Conduct the Perfect Job Interview in Twelve Simple Steps
  • How to Conduct an Effective Job Interview