7 tips for conducting interviews (and hiring the best candidates)

Last updated:
July 21, 2021
December 16, 2021
min read
Disha Sharma
Table of contents

69% of companies find a flawed interview process for their bad hires. A lot of the responsibility for a failed interview can fall to the recruiters since they are the ones conducting the interview.

Conducting an interview carries a hefty weight, so it’s only natural that you’ve been searching for interview tips and hints. You don’t want to let your company down, and you want to guarantee that you hire the best candidate for the role.

That all stems from your interviewing technique.

How you plan your interview, the questions you choose, and how you ask them are all factors that determine if your interview process will secure the best candidate for the job. Failing to do so means you run the risk of hiring a candidate who ‘felt’ like a good fit at the time, only to discover there were better candidates for the role.

But fortunately, with a bit of prep work, you can dramatically improve the quality of your hire from your interview. Here are 7 simple tips for conducting interviews that result in the best hires, which you can implement right away.

1. When conducting an interview, know what you’re looking for

This may seem obvious, but many recruiters overlook the simplicity and suffer the consequences.

One of the best tips for conducting interviews is to spend some time analyzing the key skills that the ideal candidate must have to succeed in the role.

For example, if you’re hiring for a customer support role, you might need your candidates to have:

  1. high emotional intelligence
  2. great communication
  3. strong problem-solving skills.

If a candidate lacks these skills, they’ll likely not make great customer success resource.

This means your interview must focus on finding (or confirming) if a candidate has these skills.

Consider implementing a pre-screening questionnaire into your process to help make the most out of your interviews. This way, you can reduce the number of candidates who progress to the next stage.

Likewise, every job needs some essential skills and qualities.

As an interviewer, your number one job is to determine if the candidates have these skills and to what extent.

Running a generic interview script without knowing what you need to evaluate in your candidates means you’ll struggle to spot the best candidates.

If you want to conduct better interviews, list the essential skills, experiences, and qualities the winning candidate must possess.

When setting out your most essential skills and factors, a further interviewing tip is to rank them from most important to least. That way, you’re gaining perspective about the key contributors to the role, and you can rate your candidates on a scale of 1-5 during the screening process.

2.) While conducting an interview, you need to set the expectations from the beginning

Roughly 90% of your applicants rely on you to tell them more about your company and the job.

Companies address this during the interview stage. They use the interviews to set the overall expectations of the candidate and to give them an insight into the company and the role in greater depth.

But a whopping 61% of employees find the reality of their new job to be different from the expectations set during the interview process.

Place both of these statistics together, and you’ll spot a pattern – a narrative.

The expectations of the role were not absorbed correctly by the candidate. But that doesn’t fall on them. Instead, it’s how the expectations were articulated during the interview process, meaning it falls on the recruiter.

To conduct great interviews, you must plan ahead so that you have a clear schedule of the components of your interview.  To avoid this common pitfall, you must plan time to address your candidates’ expectations around their:

  • daily work lives;
  • working hours;
  • company culture;
  • career advancement opportunities;
  • wellness programs and other benefits;
  • leadership competence;
  • and salary.

Helping candidates set their job expectations is one of those tips for conducting interviews that you must add to your interviewing routine.

3. Refine your interview process

Lacking a standard interview process can make you five times more likely to make a bad hire. The fix is simple: to conduct structured interviews.

Hiring through structured interviews is one of the most valuable tips for conducting interviews you can ever get.

A structured interview is one where you thoroughly analyze the job’s key responsibilities and prepare a plan to conduct the interview based on evaluating the needed skills for the role. This means you have documented:

  • the critical skills or competencies to look for in the candidates;
  • the interview questions you need to ask to assess the candidates on the core skills they need to succeed in the role;
  • a sample scoring system with a range of acceptable answers along with the points each answer is awarded. (These are just guidelines, and you can always use your discretion when interpreting or scoring the answers.)

In structured interviews, you aren’t making up the interview process as you go. Instead, you’ve prepared and planned. The questions are premeditated and ready to deliver.

Some hiring managers criticize structured interviews as they’re typical and lack spontaneity, but their success rate is much higher than that of unstructured interviews.

Even unusual interviews are somehow structured, as they are planned with the competencies and skills of a successful hire in mind.

An ATS will make conducting structured interviews simple by tracking the interview process according to the role and saving question sets.

tips for conducting interviews

4. When conducting an interview, prepare the right type of interview questions

While this might seem like one of the most basic tips for conducting interviews, many interviewers fail to prepare the right questions to ask the candidates.

Ideally, you should always have a list of questions to ask the candidates (even when you’re conducting an unstructured interview). The questions you choose must also directly tie to the skills or qualities you’re trying to evaluate in the candidates. You mustn’t rely on the same set of questions for every role. They need to be specific to the position they’ll be filling should they be successful.

In the customer support hiring example above, asking some behavioral and situational questions can tell you if a candidate has what it takes to succeed and excel at the job.

Likewise, based on the job you’re recruiting for, find the questions that will help you evaluate the candidates on the desired and critical job skills.

Ensure to review each candidate’s resume well and note down any questions that arise from it that need to be addressed in the interview.

5. During the interview, be mindful of your body language

As an interviewer, you’re told to judge the candidate based on their body language. Why? Because a person’s body language tells a non-verbal story and also influences the quality of the discussion.

For example, if you’re talking to someone and the other person just starts using their cellphone, you’ll know they aren’t interested in what you’ve got to say.

Likewise, even your candidates (who are already nervous about the interview) are subconsciously reading your body language to find cues if they’re doing well in the interview and to confirm that they still have your attention.

Here are a few body language tips to use when conducting an interview:

  • First, kickstart the interview with a friendly handshake with eye contact and a smile – While this may sound basic, sometimes a good welcome can be forgotten when in a rush!
  • Have enough eye contact with the candidate. This signals to them that they have your full attention.
  • Avoid looking at the floor or phone, as doing so is usually interpreted as a sign of disinterest.
  • Smile now and then – it’s reassuring and can set the candidates at ease.
  • Avoid leaning back, as that might be taken as a sign of withdrawing from the conversation. Instead, lean forward a little if you can, as doing so signals that you’re actively listening and participating in the discussion.

To get your body language right, you can ask friends and colleagues to observe you as you conduct your following interview with some takeaway tips at the end. The aim should always be to appear interested, warm, and friendly when conducting interviews.

6. Don't forget to sell the job during the interview process

Now, this one’s like one of the more advanced tips for conducting interviews, but if you’re an experienced recruiter, you’ll find it helpful.

When you reach a point where you’ve interviewed hundreds of candidates, you can often rely on intuition that usually during the second half of the interview, you’re talking to the ‘right’ candidate.

If this is the case, spend some of your interview time explaining to the candidate why you think they’d make an excellent fit for the role and company.

HR expert, John Sullivan, suggests dedicating some of your interview time to let candidates connect with someone on the team who might convince them about working with you.

Remember, just because you’re the one conducting an interview, it doesn’t mean that your candidates aren’t also interviewing you.

7. Conduct an interview with your collaborative hiring team

Collaboration is a magical technique in the workplace.

When you consider the definition of collaboration, “the situation of two or more people working together to create or achieve the same thing,” there’s no doubt that implementing it into the workplace helps bring out the best of a project.

Collaboration means gaining two or more sets of perspective, skills, strategies, experience, and creativity.

So, it’s unsurprising that collaborative hiring offers the same benefits when recruiting.

Ensure you have a strong team made from various seniority levels, as a group of people will be able to pick up on elements of a response that you may have previously missed. They’ll also be able to have a say in the questions, which will be infinitely helpful when doing your preparation.

8. After the interview, look to improve your interviewing techniques by seeking feedback

One of the most effective tips for conducting interviews that get great hires is to constantly improve your interviewing skills by seeking candidate feedback.

To do so, you can follow up with your candidates with an email asking them about their interviewing experience and what you could do better.ca

For more pointed feedback, you can send them a proper feedback form. If you’re a Recruitee user, you can design custom questionnaires/surveys for evaluating a candidate’s interview experience.

Also, sign up for career websites like Glassdoor, where candidates can share their interview experience with your company.

Keep monitoring them, so you know when anyone posts about their interviewing experience at your company.

You can also seek feedback from your current employees with a message like:

Hey there,Thanks so much for being a part of the [company] family.To find even more amazing people like you to join us, we’re working on improving our interviewing process.It would be great if you could share your feedback on your interviewing experience with us.Thanks so much,[Your name].

Tips for conducting an interview: summarized

In addition to following the above tips for conducting interviews, make sure you’re free of biases when assessing candidates.

Don’t assume that you aren’t biased, too. Personal biases often creep in when evaluating a candidate’s interview performance. So, be aware of it and maintain objectivity when evaluating the candidates.

Also, as you’re the one conducting the interview, your main job is to listen. There’s a clear difference between hearing and listening. You have to listen to responses actively.

Recruiters often keep the talking-listening ratio at 20:80, which means that you must listen to the candidate for most of the interview. Make sure not to ask any personal questions that might be seen as inappropriate or intrusive.

Above everything else, be respectful to the candidates interviewing with you, whether they’re qualified for the role or not. And if possible, give your candidates feedback on their interviews so they can improve.

Conducting an interview is mostly a subjective process, but you can’t go wrong by following the best interviewing practices such as the ones above.

What are your favorite tips for conducting interviews? Share them in the comments below!

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