So you’ve had a crazy day, with a million deadlines and a thousand small crises. Now you have to interview candidates for a marketing assistant position. If you don’t have a human resources department to guide you along, here are some tips for how to prepare for and conduct a job interview — from the other side of the desk.
Nine Tips for Interviewers
Remember that candidates are deciding whether they want to work for you just as much as you are trying to decide whether to hire them. You have only about an hour to make a good impression on the candidate. Follow these steps:
1. Write down a list of questions that directly relate to the job’s responsibilities. “If you don’t have a job description, list the key responsibilities of the position, and then draw up a list of questions that relate to those responsibilities,” says John Dooney, manager of strategic resource for the Society for Human Resources Management, a nonprofit association for human resources professionals.
2. Ask behavioural questions, as in “tell me about a time when you…” Ask for specific examples of past performance and behaviour, says Dooney. Previous successes are a good indicator of future performance.
3. Review the candidate’s resume before the interview. This may seem obvious, but by preparing your questions and reviewing the resume, you are showing the candidate you have taken the time to ensure a productive interview.
4. Outline the interview structure for the candidate. First, give a brief description of the company, and then outline the job duties. Finally, ask the applicant questions. After that, the candidate will have the opportunity to ask you questions. This sets up the parameters of the interview, keeps you both focused, and gives the candidate an idea of what to expect.
5. Don’t talk too much. Dooney suggests hiring managers should talk only about 30 percent of the time. Allow candidates time to describe their skills and qualifications during the interview. “Make sure you’ve covered all your questions and you haven’t missed anything,” Dooney adds.
6. Extend professional courtesies, says Dooney. Offer candidates a glass of water, and ask if they had difficulty finding the place. Be on time. Consider giving them a tour of the office. Give them an opportunity to speak with other team members or prospective coworkers, if appropriate.
7. Watch nonverbal signals. Just as you are looking for eye contact and appropriate dress, the candidate is looking for those unspoken signals from you. Be sure your tone of voice is appropriate and professional. Clearly articulate the job’s duties and the company’s mission. Dress as you normally would, and pay attention to manners. You are a representative of your company and department, so make sure your actions reflect this.
8. While being polite and professional, don’t get too chummy. “Keep all your questions job-related,” says Dooney. If you spend the interview chatting, you may make a hiring decision because you liked the candidate versus whether the person is truly qualified for the job, he explains.
9. Whether it’s by email or phone, follow up to let candidates know whether they got the job. This is one more way of extending a professional courtesy and gives the interview process closure.