A lot of the focus on the interview process is put on the interviewee, but why? There are two (or more) people in the room during the interview: the interviewee (job seeker) and the interviewer (hiring manager). Both people are meeting someone new, both people are preparing to ask and answer questions, and both people are quite possibly more than a bit nervous about the whole thing.
If you happen to have an interview coming up which you’ll be conducting, you should prepare much in the same way that the job seeker has to. Of course, there are subtle differences in the preparations, but the idea remains the same. You should be prepared and have a solution to everything that may come up in the interview. And above all else, you need to make sure you focus on the candidate and make them feel comfortable enough to open up to you while still maintaining a professional atmosphere.
It’s not uncommon for a hiring manager to not give the interviewer enough time during the process. This could be because you’ve done so many interviews for this one opening that you’ve set yourself into a routine or it could be because this particular candidate has a little more to say.
Either way, ask questions and let the candidate speak. Stick to the basic questions at first and allow time in between for a solid and fulfilled answer. It’s easy to get a little carried away talking about the position or the company, but if you cut the candidate short of time, you may never know what he’s capable of.
Job seekers are reminded every day of how they should always prepare for an interview. They know the standard questions and, if they’re smart, they’ve rehearsed the proper answers so they don’t forget during the interview. You should follow suit.
Not all candidates are the same. If they were, your job (or at least this aspect of it) wouldn’t exist. Before each interview, or even the night before, thoroughly read the resumes of the candidates you will be interviewing. Leave small notes in each folders with a targeted list of questions. Just as job seekers are told to research the company, you should research them – to a point. For example, candidate #1 may have had experience in an exciting industry or in another country. Ask her about this past experience and what it brings to the table now.
While the interview rests on your shoulders, the candidate will also have to work with the rest of the team. Ask your receptionist if she has anything to say about any of the candidates. If this will be a second or third interview with a candidate, there is always the possibility of having future colleagues asking the candidate a few questions, as well.
Keeping it cool during the interview process isn’t always easy, unless you happen to love conducting interviews and it’s among your greatest skills. For the rest of us, however, being prepared and remembering these few (small) tips can break the ice and make both of you more comfortable.