How to Conduct an Interview – 4 Simple Steps

By Adam Robinson,
July 24, 2012

Did you know that there are over 4,400 global monthly searches for the keyword, ‘How to Conduct an Interview?’ The reason Hireology exists is because many managers don’t know the best way to, well, hire! It’s time to take control of your interviewing process and with these tips below, you can’t go wrong.

We know that the costs of a bad hire are terrifying (and if you don’t, check out this zombie infographic) and with no structured hiring process in place, you could be hiring the wrong people every time. Scared yet? Don’t worry, we pooled our interviewing knowledge together and listed 4 steps to better hiring today.

Think about the Job

Sarah Kessler from Inc wrote in an article titled, How to Conduct an Interview, that ‘Before you start searching for the perfect candidate, you need to spend some time thinking about the job.’ We couldn’t agree more! Take a look at the job you are hiring for, study those in the job already, and talk to their managers about what makes them successful (and unsuccessful!) Make a list of the most successful employee’s qualities, traits, and factors and focus on these in interviews with candidates and their past supervisors.

This narrows down the candidate pool to those who share similar characteristics with the most successful employees in the job you’re hiring for.

Develop an interview guide

The questions asked during an interview are key to finding the most effective candidate! Hireology’s Product Development Director, Margot Baill, said in a blog post about Behavioral Interviewing, that there are 2 ways to develop your interview questions:

1. Base the questions on the tasks: Analyze the job you are hiring for. Develop your questions around the job’s most important tasks, and format the questions with this phrase: ‘Tell me about a time when youÉ’ For example: If you are hiring a Sales Manager and the job calls for making cold calls, you might ask the following question to your job candidates. ‘Tell me about a time when you had to make cold calls.’

2. Base the questions on the competencies required to accomplish the tasks: take a look at your top performers in your company and determine what actions they’re taking that are different from what the average or low performers are doing (i.e. taking on leadership activities, staying late, staying positive) and think about what competencies would make someone likely to do those things: In short, turn the behaviors you’re looking for into competencies. For example: if your top sales performer stays late every night, you would ask your job candidates ‘Describe a time that best demonstrates your persistence.’  

Interview together

Not the worst, but by far the most common interviewing mistake is interviewing alone. It’s understandable that interview teams aren’t always the most practical, but they will produce better results.

When having a conversation with a candidate (or any person, for that matter), an interviewer is most effective when they can be ‘present,’ or in the moment. Given that statement, the nature of interviewing presents an inherent dilemma: on one hand, you’re in a conversation and you want to be present – genuinely listening to your candidate; but on the other hand, you are simultaneously judging the likelihood of this candidate’s success with your company.

It’s almost impossible to play both parts at one time. Only the extremely skilled and experienced interviewer can truly pull off this dichotomy of intent. The simplest, most effective way to solve this problem is to have two interviewers in the room: one does the talking, and the other does the judging/assessing/note-taking . Don’t get us wrong, it is possible to do both at once, and a lot of people do, but we promise your results will be even better if you use two interviewers. Your notes will be better, your candidate will provide you with more insightful information, and your scoring will be more accurate.

Score the interviews

It’s time to take away your safety blanket, no more ‘gut feelings!’ When you score your interviews based on the candidate’s response you have a quantifiable reason to hire them. Make sure you are asking the candidates the same questions to ensure your scoring system won’t be off. Baill explains that scoring the interview immediately is important while the interview is fresh on your mind. If you don’t have a scoring tool for interviewing you can start your free trial of Hireology (which scores the interviews for you!) today. 

Hiring is hard, but fixing your interview process is easy! Just follow the simple steps above in every interview you conduct and start selecting the right candidates for the job.

About the Author

Adam co-founded Hireology with the mission to help growing companies make better hiring decisions through data and better technology. Adam is passionate about entrepreneurship, donating time to a number of organizations that support the entrepreneurial cause. Adam completed his undergraduate study at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and received his MBA from DePaul University in Chicago, IL.

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter and learn how to build your best team.