Eight Best Practices in Interviewing: A Useful Guide for Hiring Managers

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Written By: Krissy Manzano

Blogs

July 13, 2023

Time to Read: 5 Minutes
In this post, we explore eight of the best practices in interviewing for hiring managers to stay ahead in this evolving landscape. In recent years, the hiring process has undergone significant changes—necessitating a fresh approach from hiring managers and recruiters. With advancements in technology and an increasingly competitive job market, employers must adapt to keep the conversation relevant and attract top talent.

When it comes to hiring the right candidate, employers often focus on qualifications and experience. However, there are other crucial aspects to consider that can make a significant difference in finding the perfect fit for your company.

From harnessing the power of data-driven recruitment strategies to embracing diversity and inclusion, the following best practices in interviewing will empower hiring managers to make informed decisions and build successful teams. Whether you’re a seasoned recruiter or new to the hiring game, these tips will help you navigate the modern hiring process with confidence.

The Eight Best Practices in Interviewing for Employers

  1. Provide an overview of the agenda

The best way to start an interview and make the most use of your time is to kick off the call by outlining what will be covered during your time together. This helps candidates understand what is expected of them and guides them on when to ask questions.

This helps ensure every interview is done fairly and consistently while allowing the candidate to show you their active listening skills. Can the candidate follow the outline you’ve just provided, or are they consistently changing course to accomplish their agenda?

  1. Avoid unconscious bias

Unconscious bias happens when you form an opinion about a candidate based solely on first impressions. Unfortunately, this happens all too often. One of the easiest ways to eliminate unconscious bias during the interview process is to cut the small talk or keep it to a minimum.

Small talk, or chit-chat, opens the door for conversations to go off-topic and creates an environment where a candidate feels almost too comfortable. In turn, they might reveal things about themselves they didn’t intend to, like whether they have children, their social activities, religious choices, etc. These are all topics that can contribute to unconscious bias.

Check out this article for examples of other types of interview biases and best practices in interviewing.

  1. Cliché questions are outdated

While once considered a unique approach to the interview process, cliché, and irreverent interview questions are overused and, some believe, are nothing more than “gotcha!” questions designed to draw out creativity over honesty.

One of our least favorites is, “If you could be any animal, which would you be and why?”. Queries like this are subjective as many people interpret the answers in many ways, and they don’t provide objective evidence of skills or values.

While still widely used, cliché questions such as, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” and “What are your biggest strengths/weaknesses?” fall short when it comes truly getting to understand the candidate. In fact, job seekers today are trained on exactly how to answer these questions. So unless you want the same cookie-cutter answer every time, we suggest avoiding them altogether.

  1. Stick to the assigned questions

A good interviewer seeks answers, while a great interviewer fosters meaningful conversation. Not to be confused with mindless chit-chat, an in-depth conversation relevant to the company, its goals and values, future endeavors, etc., can be incredibly valuable for both the interviewer and interviewee. However, when it comes to best practices in interviewing, it is equally crucial to ask consistent questions to each candidate, focusing on the specific skills and competencies you need to evaluate for this interview. Keep in mind that it’s impossible to assess a candidate comprehensively in just one interview, so there is an entire hiring process involving multiple steps. Going off-topic with unrelated questions can hinder the assessment of the areas that need to be thoroughly evaluated.

  1. Make the candidate comfortable

Interviewers often worry about candidates being experts at interviewing, so they intentionally throw curveball questions out there to see how they handle them. The problem with this is these “curve balls” often have nothing to do with the competencies you are assessing for and become pure power moves vs. assessing skills and experience.

Remember that being a candidate, no matter how good you are, can be intimidating, especially for diverse groups who are constantly overlooked. One of the best practices in interviewing is to create a comfortable environment for candidates to showcase their full capabilities and true selves. It’s also a means of demonstrating and exemplifying your company culture firsthand in how you treat others.

It’s important to approach with a mindset of assuming good intent rather than assuming the worst. This doesn’t mean ignoring red flags, but if you go into the interview expecting someone to be dishonest, you might come across as an interrogator rather than an interviewer, leaving a negative impression on everyone involved.

  1. Follow the 80/20 rule

Pareto’s principle, also known as the 80/20 rule, is a concept that suggests that roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. Today’s general principle holds in many aspects of business, economics, computer science, and so much more.

The 80/20 rule also holds as one of the best practices in interviewing. The interviewer should spend 80% of the time listening and 20% of the time talking. I know; we just told you to engage in an in-depth conversation. And you still can! Just keep your part short and focus on active listening.

Active listening is a fundamental communication skill that helps you understand and remember what someone says. Practicing active listening will keep you from interrupting or thinking about what you want to say next. And it can lead to … you guessed it … a great conversation.

  1. Delay decision-making until the end

Some interviewers brag about their ability to judge a candidate’s suitability for a role within the first 30 seconds. They attribute it to their intuition, but it’s actually a natural human instinct of fight or flight, assessing safety. The issue is that an interview isn’t meant to gauge safety in this context. Its purpose is to get to know the candidate and utilize the entire allocated time for that purpose. As mentioned in the #4 best practices in recruiting above, it’s impossible to understand someone in just one interview fully. That’s why it’s important to reserve judgment until the end, allowing candidates the best opportunity to showcase who they truly are.

Only after completing the interview should a decision be made on whether the candidate is a yes or a no, determining whether they should proceed to the next stage.

  1.  Explain the follow-up process

There’s nothing worse than going through a rigorous interview process only to be left in the dark for days, weeks, and in some extreme cases, months. As the hiring manager, you must clearly state how and when you will follow up after the interview. An exact date isn’t necessary, but an estimated timeframe is helpful, not to mention considerate.

If you are in the early or middle stages of the interview process, aim to decide whether the candidate should move forward immediately following the interview. Remember that this decision is not about hiring them but progressing them to the next step. If you have designed competency-based questions that effectively evaluate the candidate, trust the process you have in place.

Follow-up communication is crucial and demonstrates the character of your organization; this why it rounds out our eight best practices in interviewing list. And, because we know you’re busy, here’s a great (and polite) email template you can use to either offer a candidate a job or let them know you won’t be moving forward. 

Check out our Go-To-Market Interview Guide for the top five tips to implement a diversity hiring plan.