6 Interview Tips - Getting the Right Candidate

Interviews are hard for a candidate, but they can also be difficult for the employer as well. In order to conduct an effective in-person interview, you must collect accurate information in a uniformed manner from all candidates.

While resumes are useful for screening purposes, having the candidate fill out an application keeps all of the information uniform and you are less likely to forget about asking them something, such as education.

Below are six more tips to help you conduct a successful interview.

Interview Tips

1. Prepare Your Questions

When it’s time for the actual interview, you want to make sure your questions are specific to the position. There are some questions that are considered bona fide occupational questions that are not discriminatory. These include: whether the candidate needs a valid driver's license, can lift 50 pounds, or stand for most of the day.

Be careful your questions are based on the position criteria. During the interview, it is important to ask the same questions of each candidate. Asking different questions of each candidate leads to a skewed assessment of who would best perform in a role. Questions designed to get particular information about a specific candidate are only appropriate in the context of a core set of questions asked of all candidates.

Having your questions prepared in advance will also ensure that you don't forget to ask pertinent questions, such as education or salary information. Take time to write them all out and practice asking them.

2. Keep it Private

It's important to conduct the interview in a private location, so the candidate feels comfortable sharing information they may not have if they were surrounded by other people. Also, make sure you take or type notes on a separate sheet of paper, not on the resume or the application that could end up in a personnel file and subject to court scrutiny.

3. Be Mindful of the Halo and Horn Effect

The halo and horn effect occurs when an interviewer allows one strong point about the candidate to overshadow or have an effect on everything else. For instance, knowing someone went to a particular university might be looked upon favorably. Everything the applicant says during the interview is seen in this light. You might realize the candidate left out an important part of the answer to that question, but assume she must know it because she went to xyz university.

The horn effect is just the opposite. Allowing one weak point to influence everything else. Non-verbal bias is when undue emphasis might be placed on non-verbal cues that have nothing to do with the job, such as loudness or softness of voice, or a limp or wet handshake.

4. Use Open-ended Questions

It is important to ask open-ended questions, meaning questions that require an answer besides yes or no. Open-ended questions reveal how a candidate thinks, responds to stress, and handles situations.

Once you've determined the candidate has the knowledge, skills, and abilities to do the job, these questions can help you determine whether the candidate will be a good fit in your environment.

Some other good questions to include are:

  • What are you most proud of professionally?
  • Tell me more about a time you made a mistake. What did you learn and what would you do differently the next time?
  • What do you do when a co-worker is not pulling their weight on a project?
  • Tell me about a disappointment you had and how you overcame it?
  • In your current or last job, what was the best day you ever had at work?
  • In your current or last job, what was the worst day you ever had at work?

5. Don’t Stereotype

We all have biases that we bring to the table when interviewing. It's human nature. Recognizing those biases up front can help you identify the right candidate, rather than make a judgement based on a bias.

One of the most common forms of bias is stereotyping. This is forming an opinion about people based on gender, religion, race, or other characteristics about how the candidate would think, act, respond, or perform on the job, without any evidence this is the case.

Your mother might have told you that you never have a second chance to make your first impression. This bias can creep in during an interview. You might hate tattoos, but just because someone has one, doesn't mean they can't do the job. A study by Pew Research Center shows that 40 percent of people ages 18 to 29 have a tattoo. While it might be smart to cover it up in an interview, it doesn't mean the applicant isn’t qualified. Don’t let factors such as clothing, hair color, or an accent take precedent over the applicant's knowledge, skills, or abilities.

Negative emphasis involves rejection of a candidate based on a small amount of negative information, which can also be another form of bias. This is a common occurrence, and should be avoided. Research indicates that interviews give unfavorable information about twice the weight of favorable information.

6. Listen More Than You Talk

Many interviewers fall into the trap of trying to sell the candidate on the position, and spend most of the interview talking, rather than listening. Others worry about what question they will ask next, which is why you want your questions scripted out.

It's very important that your applicant do most of the talking. Listen twice as much as you talk.

In a second interview, it's helpful to have someone else sit in. You'll be surprised to hear what they heard, rather than what you heard. They can pick up on non-verbal cues, eye movement, and body language.

At the end of the interview, ask the candidate what questions they have. This will tell you whether they have prepared for the interview, and how serious they are about the job. Interviews can be difficult and time-consuming, but utilizing these tips can make the process smoother, and allow you to focus on hiring the best candidate for the job.

What is your organization’s interview process?

Katie Roth

Katie Roth has been in a leadership role in the employment industry for the majority of her career. Currently, she is Manager, Talent Acquisition for Oasis, a Paychex® Company. Katie is a graduate of the University of Iowa and is certified by both the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), as a Senior Professional in Human Resources, and the National Association of Personnel Services, as a Certified Personnel Consultant (CPC).


February 15, 2018

Posted by

Katie Roth