5 ways to be a good interviewer

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 27 July 2022

Published 25 June 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

A good interviewer is a crucial employee to an organisation because they are responsible for attracting and recruiting the finest candidates for different roles. As they are a core part of the recruitment process, as an interviewer, make sure you are effective in carrying out interviews to ensure that you choose the right employees for each role, who fit the role and are enthusiastic about making a difference in your company.

How to be a good interviewer

In order to be a good interviewer, here are some of the key qualities you require. These traits teach you how to be a good interviewer, set you apart from others and help you to select and retain good candidates.

1. Good interviewers are good conversationalists

The role of an interviewer comprises mainly of communication. To get your message across and screen employees effectively, you have to be good at communicating. You won't just be asking questions all the time, sometimes you may face questions yourself. When that happens, you have to be prepared to respond clearly and in a manner that motivates the candidate to join your organisation.

You typically have a range of questions to ask each potential employee. But you can't be interrogative, and your questions should flow freely in a conversational format. Being a good communicator requires consistent practice. A good starting point is to try and listen more.

Ensure that you don't make your conversations a monologue. Let the recruit reply and make it a dialogue with two equal participants. This way, you can throw in follow-up questions and encourage the candidate to ask you questions of their own. As such, they feel less nervous and communicate better. In turn, this helps you know whether the recruit has the skill set you require.

2. Good interviewers take notes

During the interview, you might want to take notes. Note-taking is an important step in the decision-making process, that can help you decipher how a potential candidate matches up to your requirements. Don't try to convince yourself that you can remember all the important details of your conversation with every interviewed candidate. Even the best minds tend to forget or mix up information over time, and thus, you'd be best served by taking notes.

Related: 9 of the best note-taking apps for Windows (with examples)

3. Good interviewers study about interviewees

The interviewer's job largely revolves around figuring out what every interviewee brings to the table and how that correlates with what you are looking for. Hence, it is important that you know enough about the candidate to make that assessment. Do your research before the date of the interview and make notes of potential questions based on your findings.

Your research would typically be based on the portfolios, cover letters, assignments, resumes, and work samples of an interviewee. Get familiar with their previous work history, positions held by them and their educational qualifications. These areas are especially critical to knowing the potential of the candidates.

After your research, you can create scorecards before the date of the interview. Use these scorecards to take notes and rate your candidates throughout the interview process. Using this method, you can make more insightful and wise decisions on who to hire.

4. Good interviewers are unbiased

To be a good interviewer, you have to embrace fairness and objectivity as second nature. These qualities can be inculcated in a variety of different ways. For instance, good interviewers might set a particular structure for all interviews for a job, that remain unchanged for every candidate. Doing this allows for a fairer and unbiased comparison of each candidate's performance.

Also, good interviewers take the time to educate themselves about the unconscious biases that are common in interviews. They also learn to be self-aware of how they judge candidates. This way, you can ensure that you are always going to hire the absolute best candidate for any role, irrespective of any unconscious biases.

5. Good interviewers know the roles that need to be filled

The role of an interviewer involves a deep and clear understanding of what the company needs. You have to understand the role that is being filled, as well as the organisation that you work for.

With your knowledge of the company and the vacant role, you can create the desired profile for the employee, and a job description that matches this profile. Moreover, these additions can be used to create an interview structure that targets your specified candidate type beyond regular job requirements.

Tips for being a good interviewer

Follow these tips to set up a seamless interview process and find the right candidate:

Prepare adequately for your interviews

It's inappropriate to not prepare for your interviews beforehand. Don't attempt to scan through a candidate's resume for the first time before the interview begins, as this only makes you less likely to screen them properly, since you would have little or no knowledge about them.

Instead, take your time to study their documents in advance, so that you can create and have a structured conversation with them. You can then rope your questions into your dialogue and find out more from the candidate. At the end of the day, you can make better decisions based on how candidates performed without having to rely on your gut for answers.

It also helps to be deliberate in your approach and put thought and effort into your questions and job requirements. This helps you land a good recruit.

Decide how to evaluate the job requirements

After preparing yourself by studying the candidates and identifying the ideal candidate profile, your next goal is to evaluate the performances of the candidates and how they match what the organisation is looking for.

This means that you create interview questions that probe candidates for the experiences, history, and skill set that you are trying to find. When doing this, your primary focus should be on the actual work experience of the candidates instead of hypothetical situations. For example:

  • Wrong: “How would you manage a £50 million building project?”

  • Correct: “Your work history said you managed a £50 million building project. How did you go about it?”

Candidates tend to be better at hypotheticals and typically provide good answers to them, however, real situations that the candidate has faced in the past enable you to evaluate them better and provide more valuable insights.

Related: Job function: definition, features, benefits and examples

Inculcate follow-up questions into the interview process

After deciding on the questions to ask your candidates, pick a question that you want to start with in order to open the conversation. However, it's important to note that those questions are not your entire interview script. Dig deeper and ask follow-up questions to get more in-depth answers and establish the thinking patterns and modus operandi of your interviewees.

To achieve that, be a good listener and take notes during your dialogue. You also have to throw in follow-up questions based on the answers they provide. For instance: “The Westwood Inn project is your largest project yet. Surely, it wasn't the easiest to pull off. How did you manage?” “Did you encounter any inhibitions during the process?” “Which drawback posed the most challenge to you?” “How did you deal with it?” “Were there any other problems after that?” “If you could start over, would you use a different approach?”

Do quick reviews before the interview begins

After doing your homework and preparing a list of questions you wish to ask the candidates, you should also take the time to go over them again before the interview. This ensures you are on point by evaluating your questions.

Also, last minute reviews can help you by providing new insights that you may have missed earlier.

Develop your sense of judgement

Remember that your unconscious biases may affect the interviewing process. Ideally, you want to go into an interview without any of the biases that may result in poor decision-making. Managing your biases can help you achieve better judgement and open-mindedness. Here are some tips for improving your sense of judgement and eliminating biases:

  • Understand what makes unconscious biases tick. Study the different forms of biases that may affect your role as an interviewer and identify the ones that pertain to you.

  • Attempt an IAT (Implicit Association Test). This should be your primary go-to for learning about your biases. There are several IATs you can attempt online.

Be empathetic

Remember that interviewees are humans too. If you treat them well, they are more likely to have a good impression of the company and want to work there. Even though you don't hire every candidate that you interview, creating a great candidate experience can go a long way to help them feel at ease. Some tips for being empathetic include:

Related: What is empathy? With steps on how to be more empathetic

Choose a positive start

Be punctual to your interviews and receive your candidates warmly. Make them feel welcome and offer them a beverage or snack. Maintaining good eye contact also helps to make them feel acknowledged and listened to.

Related: Positive body language and gestures that put people at ease

Lead them into the interview gradually

Introduce yourself to your candidates. If you are with a team, introduce them too. Then, briefly explain the position that you are hiring for and the job description. This makes the process less mechanical and ensures all parties are on the same page. Next, you may ask the candidate to introduce themselves and describe their resume, work history, and portfolio.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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