How to Interview the Right Way

Hiring decisions can make or break the success of a company, no one is more aware of that impact than the Chief Human Resources Officer. As a former Fortune 200 CHRO, it was my job to ensure that the company was poised to exceed its goals. Bad hiring decisions were to be avoided at all costs. If one bad apple spoils the whole bunch, similarly one bad hire can take an entire annual plan off the rails.


Therefore it is vital hiring processes are seamless, efficient and effective. Both sides need to get what they want: the company needs the right employee and the candidate wants the right job. With that in mind, here are some tried and tested ideas to help interviewers and interviewees win in the hiring process:

For candidates

Don’t shop: If you’re only using the interview process as a bargaining tool to raise your compensation, it’s a bad strategy. You don’t leave a good impression and it’s a waste of a lot of people’s time and effort. Plus, you run the risk of the interviewing company calling your current employer, which can put you in an incredibly bad position.

Do your homework: Any candidate that walks into an interview without having researched the company have, in my experience, ruled themselves out of contention. Candidates with knowledge of the company, its competitors, and the industry score highly with interviewers. Your invested time shows your interest in the job and the company overall.

Be prepared to sell yourself: In addition to homework about the company, be prepared to market yourself. The interviewer wants you to validate the decision to select you for an interview. Candidates who understand and market their capabilities in a pleasant, confident way create a lasting impression that puts them on the short list.

Be authentic: An interview is not the time to fake it. Interviewers can quickly detect when someone is projecting an image that isn’t authentic. There’s a balance to be struck between being overly confident or completely closed off. A good interview has energy and good conversation flow, where you can exchange your skills, abilities and passions. Professional poise, comfortable confidence and a relaxed, genuine smile form a great lasting impression.

Be patient: While it’s not unreasonable to expect feedback in a timely manner, be reasonable as to how long that can take. Excitement is infectious, but there are multiple moving parts internally to an interview. Gentle reminders of interest are welcome while your interview is being assessed, while daily phone calls and emails of increasing dismay can take you out of consideration entirely.

Know your “number”: When it comes down to compensation, be ready to discuss what it will take to obtain you. Leave no stone unturned, and be prepared to know what will motivate you to make a change. Conversely, be open to thoughts on benefits and other package details that the company can offer.

Write “Thank You” notes – Recruiting staff, hiring managers and other panel members appreciate notes of thanks for their interview time. Some recruiting directors have hand-written notes received from candidates over the years. A quick note shows you care and proves your dedication to the process.

For companies

Step outside the box - The explosion of social and mobile provides different ways with which you can connect to your target candidate pool, creating incredible speed and agility in securing talent. Interviews can be locked down in a matter of hours, offers can be extended in minutes, and the right applicants can confirm acceptance and begin onboarding instantly, reducing candidate processing time.

Be creative in your sourcing – Continuing to source in the same pond will eventually fish it dry. Look to different industries and diverse backgrounds to discover new sources of talent. The diversity of thought could be just the thing to lead the company into a great new era.

Recruit your employees – Your staffing efforts include retention, so be sure to recruit your employees. Reinforcing your company’s desire to keep staff at your enterprise is invaluable. Become complacent, and you’ll find your best people lured away by others who show real interest.

Train every employee to be a good interviewer – Both sides of the interviewing table benefit from trained interviewers and a good screening process. Be sure your interviewer asks a battery of questions both position and culture-related and teach them to listen. Also, teach them to probe further if they need more information from a candidate’s answer. Failure to do so will lead to assumptions and possibly a poor hiring decision.

Make the interview process manageable – Cramming too many interviews into one day or scheduling too many rounds are unnecessary practices that can exhaust everyone and turn candidates off.  Make sure the right individuals are involved and don’t throw unnecessary distractions onto the schedule. Also, ensure all interviewers are on time. Tardiness alerts the candidate to a lack of consideration.

Record and gather feedback immediately - It’s too easy to delay recording your thoughts, but by then you’re struggling to recall important aspects of the interview. Make notes directly after the interview and ensure they make their way into the right hands so a decision can be made. Holding the other interviewers accountable for documenting their feedback, is key and HR should own this process to ensure it happens

At the end of the day, candidates have a choice about where they work, as employers have a choice about whom they hire. When candidates come in prepared to compel their interviewers for the right role and companies are organized and ready to convince the candidate that their career would best be grown in their ranks, everyone wins. With a little preparation on both sides and a good amount of honest, considerate action, both sides get exactly what they want: a great hiring process that leads to the right hiring decision.

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