The Latest Views on Conducting Interviews

To continue the mini-series I began last week, I want to focus on how organizations interview candidates. I’ve written about hiring before in a few blogs, but I think it’s worth expanding on. Interviews are a critical component of the hiring process. Improving interviews at your organization will yield several key benefits. For instance, they can help you expand the diversity of your workforce. In addition, you can practice corporate social responsibility by increasing the accessibility of your interview process. Take your interviews seriously and you’ll see big changes.

Benefits of Improving Interviews

Conducting any interview at all is certainly better than none. In any interview, you’ll be able to learn more about your candidates, as this Indeed article points out. You’ll find out more by speaking to a candidate than a resume can ever tell you. However, what you assess depends on how you structure your interviews.

Done right, you can test candidates’ skills and assess their fit with organizational culture. If you plan questions appropriately, you can learn a lot this way. For instance, you can assess role-specific skills by asking questions tailored to each role. You can also look at more general skills like presentation skills and the ability to work under pressure. Of course, this all depends on how you conduct interviews. You won’t obtain information your interviews aren’t designed to elicit.

That’s why designing a better hiring process matters. The typical questions candidates face in traditional interviews just aren’t cutting it. Most organizations aren’t obtaining enough information to sufficiently assess candidates’ competencies through interviews. This problem translates to high costs for organizations. Hiring is extremely expensive for an organization. (Consider the costs of a thoughtfully designed onboarding process.) That’s why you want to hire candidates who will succeed and stay.

The How of Conducting Interviews

This Indeed article provides ideas for ways to improve your interview process. First, be prepared. This includes reviewing information about your organization and the candidate. Be familiar with their resume, cover letter, and/or portfolio, of course. But also be ready to answer questions they may have about the organization. Understand the culture, future directions, and benefits, for instance. Finally, prepare yourself by knowing what you’ll ask. Structure the interview to make sure you hit all the important points. Leave enough time for candidates to ask their own questions and for you to explain next steps at the end.

During any interview, show your candidates respect. Recent trends indicate that candidates believe how they’re treated during interviews reflects how an organization treats its employees. In other words, your interview process reflects on you. Wouldn’t you like to put your best foot forward? Respect is conveyed through common courtesies like arriving on time, but it can be more than that too. Try to incorporate active listening to give candidates your full attention. If you can, offer every candidate a glass of water or even a snack during breaks. These simple actions make a big difference.

taking notes in interviewsFinally, be sure your interview doesn’t vanish into thin air once it’s completed. Take notes during your interview. I understand you may not want to be scribbling away as a candidate speaks. After all, that’s not in line with active listening at all. Consider using artificial intelligence-based tools for audio transcription. You want to be able to reflect back on the interview. In the bigger picture, this HBR article also recommends regularly assessing your interview process as a whole. Take advantage of workflow software like Pyrus to engage in data-driven assessment of your practices and their success.

The What of Conducting Interviews

Now you know how you’ll be interviewing candidates. So what should you ask? I liked the categories of questions proposed in this article. You can adapt them to meet your needs. For instance, ask questions to test preparation. This can vary depending on what you want candidates to have researched or prepared. If you’ve sent them questions in advance, see how well they’re prepared to answer them. Or perhaps you want to see if they care about your organization in particular. Ask what stands out to a candidate about the organization’s values to see if they’ve reviewed your website. These kinds of questions indicate whether the candidate is taking their interview seriously.

Next, assess how well this candidate will do in the role through several kinds of questions. This includes questions specific to skills. Consider a question like “How would you design an app that does X?” Alternatively, you can assign a mini-project to see their skills in action. To test their communication abilities, you can ask them to produce a writing sample. This should reflect the role you interview for. If you’re hiring for a role in customer service, for example, see how they’d respond to an angry customer email. Hopefully, you see how these buckets of questions can be adapted for your interviews.

Finally, assess how well candidates would work with your employees. One strategy is to assign a project for the candidate to work on with the interviewer. Assess their communication skills and ability to work collaboratively in the workplace. A different, creative approach is to have them play a collaborative board game with some employees. Besides bringing fun into your interviews, this lets you see the candidate’s interactions in a professional setting. 

Combat Bias in the Hiring Process

As a final note, it’s important to remember the prevalence of our cognitive biases. Part of improving the interview process requires prioritizing fairness. There are plenty of ways to work towards eliminating bias in your interviews. For instance, this HBR article suggests asking interviewers not to discuss a candidate until everyone has submitted their feedback. This way, they won’t influence one another’s individual impressions. 

Another great solution is to involve artificial intelligence. AI will do a lot more than just address bias, though. It also lets you process more candidates more efficiently. Integrating automated workflow software can help streamline a variety of business processes, including hiring. For all these reasons, check out Pyrus for its workflow solutions. Automating the mechanics of the interviewing process will let you focus your time and energy on what matters most. Best of luck in your efforts!