Nailing the Interview as an Interviewer

A lot has been written about how candidates should approach interviews, not so much on how interviewers should. Candidate experience is a hard problem to solve if you are trying to do it at scale and especially if people helping you in scouting and interviewing already have a day job. However, it is critically important to get right what could be someone’s first potential employee experience.

Consistent adoption of a few simple micro-habits across the company can help. Few examples below:

  1. Be on time. Few things show as much respect for the other person without uttering a word besides caring for their time.
  2. As an interviewer, know that assessing a fit for a job is a two-way street. Accommodate an experience where you empower the candidate e.g. set aside at least 20% of the time for the candidate to ask questions.
  3. Perfection in evaluating careers spanning across years during one round of discussion is a myth. Your role is to minimize subjectivity in the process. e.g. avoid narrowly assessing the candidate in a few areas that you know.
  4. Your role is to offer a fair chance for the candidate to succeed in the interview. Besides being the right thing to do, it also makes economic sense since the company has invested time and money to assess the candidate’s eligibility for an interview.
  5. This may seem table stakes but engage candidates at a human level, not a number to be met from the order board. Remove any ambiguity by explaining what to expect at the beginning of the interview. If the candidate is struggling or misunderstood the question, offer help.
  6. Where appropriate, take the opportunity to break the back-and-forth Q&A format to acknowledge response, share an anecdote, and clarify how things work in your organization.
  7. Most candidates shy away from asking questions. Offer leading statements or cues to encourage them to speak their mind. “How can I help you understand who we are and what we do?”, “Do you have any questions about your role or anything you have heard about us?”
  8. It is unfair to expect authenticity from the candidate if you are not bringing the same to the table. No workplace is perfect. Acknowledge the challenges at work and focus on how you are addressing them. Better still, seek their inputs.
  9. Document, document, document – take detailed notes for key strengths and/or gaps. Make specific recommendations for areas you would like the next interviewer to focus on.
  10. Lastly, gratitude is non-negotiable. Acknowledge the candidate’s time before closing, irrespective of your decision. Taking an hour from an already packed schedule in a pandemic is not always easy.

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