Top Six Interview Tips for Managers
by Catherine Tansey
The in-person interview is one of the most important aspects of the hiring process, and candidates aren’t the only ones who should be preparing for it. A resume and cover letter say a lot about a candidate’s career progression and qualifications, but an interview allows the manager a glimpse of the candidate’s intelligence, attitude, and ability to integrate into the current team. Whether you’re a first-time hiring manager or a seasoned vet, you know there’s no one-size-fits-all approach and that interviewing is an art that gets better with practice and preparation. Read on for our top interview tips for mangers below.
This sounds like a no-brainer, but lack of preparation happens more often than you might think. There are all sorts of reasons managers want to “freestyle” when it comes to conducting interviews: some have grown confident in their ability to do so with little prep, while others feel better “just winging it.” Whatever your reason, it’s likely a bad one. Preparation is the most important interview tip for managers. In the candidate-driven talent market today, individuals are looking to see that prospective employers care about them. One of the best ways to do so? Re-read your interviewee’s resume and cover letter fifteen minutes before the interview. The in-depth research you’ve already conducted will be easier to recall when you’ve had a quick refresher right before you talk.
Practice Active Listening
Listening isn’t just about hearing the words but rather understanding what a person is conveying to you. This demands a focus on verbal language (the actual words), paralanguage (elements like pitch and intonation), and body language (like eye contact and hand placement). While follow-up questions can be useful, try the old journalists’ trick of pausing after a candidate has finished talking before asking the next question. Often, individuals will give their best answer after having a moment to “practice” a few thoughts first.
Vary Your Types of Questions
Much like written language, verbal language and communication is best when it’s varied. Good writers understand the power of playing with sentence length and syntax the same way expert interviewers mix up their types and styles of questions. The four most commonly-seen questions in an interview are closed-ended, open-ended, hypothetical, and off-the-wall. Draw from a variety of these types of questions to keep the interview from feeling too much like an interrogation. As for the off-the-wall question, limit to one, or feel free to omit completely if it feels “off” for your company culture.
Make the Interviewee Comfortable
The old days of intimidating a potential new hire are very much over. You want your candidate feeling wholly at ease so they can put their most authentic self forward. An important interview tip for managers is to help interviewees feel comfortable by offering water, coffee, and introducing them to others in the office. Go a step further and outline the format of the interview so the candidates know what to expect. A simple introduction of yourself and the company followed by a few words explaining that you’ll discuss the job, ask questions, and then they’ll have their turn to do the same can help level the proverbial playing field.
Ask for feedback
You want to impress the candidate just as much as they want to impress you. Show individuals you’re interested in their opinion by asking them for it. Hiring for a web developer position? Ask them one way your company could improve its own website. Seeking a content marketing manager? Offer candidates a chance to critique thought leadership content on your blog. Done well, these questions show an openness for feedback and collaboration: two must-haves for any in-demand employer.
It’s easy to think you’re internalizing the information from an interview as it’s happening—especially when you’ve made a strong connection with a potential new hire, but recall can be a considerable challenge after the fact. It’s best to take notes both as the interview progresses and once it’s over. Block off thirty minutes post-interview to transcribe an in-depth account of your conversation with the candidate and how you felt they performed. These notes will provide an accurate summary of your experience with the potential new hire and help trigger the impression they left with you.
Employers everywhere are trying to attract top talent. But in this increasingly lean labor market, candidates aren’t the only ones being interviewed during the process. Potential new hires want to see that a prospective employer has done their research, is listening to what they have to say, and values their opinion. Want to continue to ensure your position as an employer of choice? Lean on our top interview tips for managers today.