The interview is a critical part of the recruitment process. Once you’ve reviewed dozens of resumes and shortlisted candidates after initial screening from the applicant tracking system, it’s time to spend one-on-one time with prospective employees to try and get to know them better.
The average interview lasts 45 minutes. This seems like a short window to really get to know each candidate and decide whether they’re a good fit for the position. But if you’re a skilled interviewer who knows what questions to ask and how to ask them, even 20 minutes are more than enough. Continue reading to find out more about the best practices to follow during the interview process.
How to Interview Someone in 8 Steps
We’ve divided this step-by-step guide into two parts: preparing for the interview and conducting it. The following section gives you an overview of the entire interview process from start to finish.
Prepare to Interview
Let’s start off with the pre-interview steps you need to take and then we’ll move on all the way to where you thank your interviewee at the end of the interview. We’ll go into more detail regarding what types of questions to ask in later sections.
Step 1: Know What You’re Looking for
Understanding what you’re looking for is an essential, but often overlooked, aspect of interviewing someone for a job. It’s true that the best applicant tracking systems only shortlist the best matches for the job position, but as an interviewer, you still need to know the requirements.
Starting off with the basics, you need to outline some key requirements and plus points you’d like to have in an ideal candidate. It seems like stating the obvious, but having this information fleshed out helps you make swift decisions during the interviewing process.
This involves reviewing the job description and all the hard and soft skills your company would like your new employee to have. Knowing this also lets you come up with the right questions to ask the candidate.
Step 2: Know Your Candidate
Do your research on each candidate before the interview begins. You want to know as much there is to know about them beforehand so you can conduct an engaging and fruitful interview.
Skimming through the resume right before starting or during the interview doesn’t give you the time to reflect and come up with good questions. We recommend you study the candidate’s resume, cover letter, and all other supporting documents in detail.
Some of the best recruitment sites like Indeed help you find qualified applicants and verify their abilities easily. Use all this information to take notes to identify interesting points to ask questions.
Additionally, keep all the information you have on the candidate on hand before you go into the interview. This will help you refer back to important information in case you miss anything.
Step 3: Decide Interview Structure and Type
Using a consistent interview structure for all candidates helps you level the playing field and run each interview smoothly. The typical interview format looks something like this:
- Introduction: Greet and introduce yourself to the candidate. Get to know them.
- Explain the purpose of the interview: You can explain the job and why the candidate was shortlisted.
- Interview questions: This is the main part of the interview where you ask the candidate questions you’ve prepared.
- Candidate’s questions: Ask the candidate if they have any questions about the job position or hiring process
- Thank the candidate and wrap up: Thank the candidate for their time and let them know the next steps and when should they expect to hear back from you.
Apart from the structure, you might also want to choose what type of interview is best for the position you want to fill. While there’s the traditional one-on-one interview, you can also go for a panel interview, presentation interview, or group interview where you evaluate multiple candidates at the same time.
Step 4: Prepare Interview Questionnaire
As one of the last steps before you actually start the interview, use your research on the candidate to create an interview questionnaire. Doing this enables you to ask the right questions so you can make the most of your time with the candidate, and avoid awkward moments in the interview. We’ll discuss the types of questions you can ask in greater depth later.
Once you’ve listed the questions you want to ask the candidate, you’re now ready to conduct the interview. Use a scheduling app to help you organize and let candidates know the date, time, and venue.
Conduct the Interview
With all the homework done, you’re finally ready for action.
Step 5: Choose a Distraction-free Environment
You’re all set and ready to welcome your first interviewee for some questions and answers. But you can’t just call them over if you don’t have a separate office space or interview room. A quiet and distraction-free environment is key to putting your candidates at ease, so both of you can focus on each other.
You may not always have a free room at your disposal to conduct interviews. In that case, consider going virtual. Conducting interviews virtually is a fast and easy way to evaluate candidates without having to put extra time and energy into setting up an interview environment. Plus, candidates interviewing from home or current workplace will find it easier to answer your questions confidently.
There’s no dismissing the fact that going virtual can’t match in-person interaction. However, you can maximize communication efficiency with the best video conferencing software. Options like RingCentral and Zoom give you HD voice and video calling functionality so you can conduct professional interviews wherever you are.
Step 6: Put the Interviewee at Ease
This step is as important for you as it is for the interviewee. Going into an interview can be stressful for a candidate if they’re not sure what they’re going to be asked or how they’re going to be evaluated. You can help reduce their stress levels and get the conversation going by explaining the purpose of the interview.
Avoiding hopping into the hard questions straight away. Start off with small talk. Ask them how their trip to the venue was if you’re meeting in person. You could tell them about yourself, your role at the company, and how you’d be moving forward with the interview.
Step 7: Ask Your Questions
Once the prospect is comfortable, you can begin asking them the questions you’ve enlisted. You should provide some context for each question before you ask it. This helps get the candidate’s train of thought going and can elicit better responses.
Don’t just shoot out a question like, “Why do you think you’re a good fit for the job?” To begin with, this isn’t the best question to ask and if you ask so promptly, you’re likely to unsettle the interviewee. Be subtle about taking notes. You shouldn’t appear as jumping to take a note if you notice something.
Focus on what they’re saying, how well they’re able to communicate, and whether they’re trying to avoid a question. You should be able to recognize their competency for the position from the level of confidence and knowledge in their answers.
Step 8: Conclude the Interview
Once you’ve asked all your questions and have all the important information you need, you can start wrapping up. Remember to ask the candidate if they have any questions. If you feel you left something hanging, now is a good time to address it.
Don’t forget to sell the job before you end. You want to be sure that your ideal candidate looks forward to working with you. Telling them about the perks and opportunities that the position has to offer to keep them interested.
Wrap up the meeting by thanking them for their time. Let them know what they should expect next and end the interview on a positive note. How your prospective employees feel at the end of the interview speaks a lot about your company values and your interviewing skills.
The people you interview should ideally have a positive impression of your company and should feel encouraged. Make sure they don’t leave feeling drained and awkward. This can impact your employment brand adversely.
What Questions Should You Ask When Interviewing Someone for a Job?
Asking the right questions lies at the core of a successful recruitment interview process. Rather than asking closed-ended questions, focus on asking open-ended ones to get your interviewee to speak more. Let’s discover the different types of interview questions.
Types of Interview Questions
There are a few different types of questions you can ask. These include:
- Behavioral questions: This is a broad question topic that helps you gauge how the candidate would behave in different situations. You can ask the interviewee almost anything about their behavior in professional settings in the past. You can present them with specific situations and ask what they’d do.
- Situational questions: Also known as hypothetical questions, these are a lot like behavioral questions. Just that you come up with unique scenarios and ask the prospect what they’d do if they were in it.
- Fact-based questions: These questions are aimed at checking the prospect’s knowledge on a particular topic. Be sure to ask fact-based questions.
- Skill-based questions: Skill-based questions focus more on the candidate’s job performance rather than their behavior. These questions let you determine whether an applicant has the technical and problem-solving skills for the position.
- Opinion questions: There’s no right or wrong answer to these questions. Interviewers usually ask these questions to gain insight into the applicant’s thought process and decision-making ability.
- General questions: General questions are aimed at getting to know the applicant. You can ask applicants things like their hobbies, their goals in life, where they see themselves a few years from now, what kind of management style works best for them, and so on.
While all these are types of questions you can ask, interviewers need to stay well clear of some types of questions that you’re not allowed to ask.
How to Interview Someone – Questions You’re Not Allowed to Ask
Here are the topics you should avoid during an interview. Asking about these can damage your company’s image and land you in legal trouble.
- Applicant’s age or genetic information
- Birthplace, country of origin, or citizenship
- Gender, sexual orientation
- Marital status, family, or pregnancy
- Race, color, or ethnicity
How to Interview Someone – Do’s and Don’ts
Learning how to interview someone professionally takes time and practice. However, you can use this simple do and don’t list to make sure you’re doing everything right and staying clear of the no-go areas.
Prepare before the interview starts. Do your research on the candidate and have your questions ready
Display bias of any kind
Put the candidate at ease. Ask them if they’re comfortable. Initiate small talk to get them settled in
Unsettle the candidate with difficult questions
Listen more, talk less
Talk about controversial or sensitive topics
Ask open-ended questions
Involve a lot of people in the interview
Take notes subtly
Ask candidates for free work
Sell the job
Lose control of the interview
Let the candidate ask you questions at the end of the interview
Treat the candidate harshly
Thank the applicant for their time
Ignore the candidate’s questions
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for How to Interview Someone
Here are some commonly asked questions new employers ask about interviewing applicants for a job.
Bottom Line on How to Interview Someone
The interview process is an important part of recruitment, and it is as technical as it is important. As an interviewer, you need to do your fair share of homework so you can evaluate applicants accurately. Remember to keep things easy and relaxed and ask the right questions for the best results.