Best Practices for Interviewing
An interview can provide you with information about a candidate that can’t easily be conveyed on paper. Training interviewers and providing them with a structured guide to follow exponentially increases your odds of selecting the right candidate.
Research indicates that there are five components to a good interview. An interview should be:
- Behaviorally based - Gain insight into a candidate's future performance by leveraging the predictive insight of behavioral interview questions.
- Clearly defined - Set standards and establish processes so that interviewers know what questions to ask and how to evaluate responses.
- Consistent - Establishing a consistent interview process allows candidates to be evaluated equitably.
- Documented - Capture the information from the interview to better evaluate the hiring decision.
- Calibrated - Use the same set of criteria to rate the success of an interview.
So how can you be sure to deliver the best interview process? Use the guidance tips below to get started.
Behavior based interviews can be either unstructured or structured. Unstructured interviews do not follow a standardized format and are the most common. Typically, the interviewer and candidate talk freely and follow a loosely defined list of topics. While this flexible and discretionary format appeals to many hiring managers, unstructured interviews are not very predictive of on-the-job performance.
Structured interviews, on the other hand, pose an identical set of questions to all applicants interviewing for a particular job. Structured interviews help hiring managers objectively evaluate candidates since all candidates are afforded the same opportunity to provide job-relevant information. Also, an objective and equitable interview process can prevent less qualified candidates from being selected over those who are more qualified.
In a behavior based interview, the questions asked are based on a core set of competencies identified by relevant job analysis data. The questions require the applicants to think of a specific situation and describe how they have responded to similar situations in the past. To solicit the best possible understanding of the candidate's behavior, each question should incorporate the following three components:
- What was the situation?
- How did the candidate handle it?
- What was the outcome?
Plan ahead and identify an appropriate space to interview. We recommend conducting the interview in an environment that is private and free from distractions to help the candidate feel comfortable.
Prior to the interview, review the job description, the candidate's resume, and any data included with the application (e.g., assessment results, writing samples, skills test results, etc.). Review the resume for gaps in employment, frequent job changes, or short job tenure. Identify specific areas that you would like to probe for more information in advance.
Be prepared to take notes on the candidate's answers to help you remember critical information. It's not necessary to write down the candidate's exact responses; instead, capture key words or phrases that will help trigger your memory when scoring the candidate’s answers. Please consult with your organization's Human Resource department to determine if your company has specific policies around note taking during an interview process.
Determine the key stakeholders in the hiring process so they can be included upfront. For example, if a key requirement of the job is to interact with multiple departments, consider inviting individuals from those departments to participate in the interview process. This way, you can ensure you are capturing all of the relevant information needed to make an objective hiring recommendation.
In behavior based interviews, candidates may have difficulty describing their actions in specific situations or the outcomes of their actions. This information is critical for the accurate assessment of competencies. Follow-up questions can be used to help candidates provide adequate detail. The follow-up questions below may be useful for prompting candidates to provide details about their actions and the outcomes of each situation:
- How did you respond in this situation?
- What was the first thing that you did in this situation?
- What options did you consider in this situation?
- How did this situation turn out?
- How pleased were you with the outcome of the situation?
- Is there anything you would have done differently?
Still Need Help?
If you still have questions about interview best practices, please contact OutMatch Support at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include:
- Your first name and last name
- And a detailed description of your question
Our business hours are Monday through Friday, 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM Central Time. We try to respond to all requests the same day if the request is received by 3 PM Central Time.