There is more to conducting interviews than simply asking the right questions. Interviewing requires not only knowledge but forethought and good presentation. The process is easier for some than others, but practice can help every interviewer improve. If your interviews seem to yield disappointing results or seem like a terrible chore, consider whether you are facing one of the problems described below. Note that these issues are most common with those new to interviewing.
There is awkward silence or you stumble over questions.
Plenty of professionals hate conducting interviews as much as candidates hate going through them. You may be perfectly at ease in most situations but find it difficult to communicate effectively in the interview setting. It may seem strange to practice conducting an interview, but it can help improve your abilities. You can polish your technique and prepare for potential pitfalls.
You don’t get the information you need.
Sometimes, this is just the candidate’s fault. They don’t want to answer questions or don’t understand them. In this case, it still helps to be ready to rephrase or add a bit of detail before moving on.
At other times, this may be a sign of a weakness on your part. Do you simply read the question right off a list? Are you phrasing them in a way that suggests “yes” or “no” answer? Don’t simply copy-and-paste a list of questions from online. Your questions must be directed towards the information you need most.
Bottom line is you need the key decision making information. Try practicing your follow up questioning to cut through candidates generic canned answers and methods to avoid answering questions directly. Here are some tools that can help: Good follow up questions
You can’t seem to answer candidates’ questions.
This problem is most common among interviewers who are solely focused on HR and do not have extensive knowledge of the industry or field for which they’re hiring. Every interviewer should be able to answer basic questions about the position (pay range, hours, etc.) and have a strong understanding of the job duties, if not the technical details.
If you are conducting first-round interviews, you may be able to assure the candidate of future opportunities for questions, provided they move on in the process.
If you know you should be able to answer their questions, you should prepare more before you begin evaluating candidates.
For more complicated questions it is ok to reassure the candidate those will be addressed in future interviews and complement the candidate on their thoughtful question.
You have trouble reading candidates.
Pay attention to the candidate’s words and behavior from the first moment to the last. If you lack confidence or have trouble reading candidates, consciously reminding yourself of your evaluative role is important. It focuses your attention and reinforces your authority. If possible, conduct interviews with someone else and compare notes. Ask them to evaluate your performance as well as the candidates’.
You hire the wrong people.
A pattern of poor hires indicates that some facet of the process is flawed. Bring in additional interviewers, spending more time on interview prep, and taking notes about your own performance as well as the candidates’. Hire a professional to train you on hiring principles or look to more experienced hiring managers in your own organization to mentor you.
Interviewing can be a stressful process. It isn’t unusual to feel apprehensive about such an important decision, but it is essential that you complete interviews with knowledge, energy, and professionalism. Practice your performance, read up on interview techniques and questions, and keep track of your weak points. It will help you keep the best talent engaged and screen out the poor performers.