How to Conduct an Interview: Best Practices to Improve Hiring

how to conduct an interview

Liz Strikwerda

Content strategist and corporate blogger (2000+ posts). Her work has been featured on G2's Learning Hub, Human Resources Today, Better Buys and over 500 business websites. She plays bluegrass mandolin and enjoys sailing her catamaran and hiking in the red rock wilderness of southern Utah. Connect with me on LinkedIn

Hiring and Applicant Tracking

Updated January 3, 2022

Why learn how to conduct an interview? It’s simple. You will find better employees. Best-fit employees ensure that you meet your business objectives.

How should the interviewer prepare for an interview? Notice that steps 1-6 all take place before the candidate arrives. By all means, the things you do to prepare are just as important as what you do when you are conducting the interview.

1. Know the Job Description

If you wrote the job description, you already have a general understanding. But dig deeper. Talk to managers about skills that may not be readily apparent. Ask successful employees which specific skills help them. Consequently, update the job description as you gain a better understanding.

2. Create a Structured Interview Script

Using unstructured interviews is a common mistake made by new business owners. Most do it by default, not realizing that there is a better way. In addition, some employers think structured interviews are only for high-level positions. Others believe they can pick a good employee with a ‘gut feeling.’ Unfortunately ‘gut feeling’ allows unconscious bias to take over.

Fortunately, it’s not hard to create structured interviews. We cover it in depth in this article: Structured Interview Questions: The Ultimate Interview Guide. Follow the steps to create structured interviews for your hiring team.

Standardized Scoring

It’s key to understand that a structured interview includes standardized scoring. This helps you fairly evaluate each candidate. Additionally, if there are several decision makers, each person should rate the applicant with the same method.

Structured interviews are a best practice and improve hiring for every type of company. Large and small. Entry-level and senior positions.

Clarify Your Company Mission and Values

Part of your structured interview script is an explanation of what your company is all about. Therefore, describe your company’s mission and values. Explain the organizational structure.

In today’s tight labor market, job candidates have the power. Certainly, as you evaluate each applicant, they are evaluating you at the same time. For this reason, create a great mission statement and practice explaining it.

Furthermore, when your structured interview script is ready, memorize it as best as you can. You’ll have your script to refer to, but learn it well enough to maintain eye contact. Practicing the script out loud is a good idea.

Individual vs. Group Interview

Let’s talk for a moment about group interviews. When would an employer use a group interview technique? If you need to quickly hire a team of employees for the same job role, a group interview may work for your company.

Group interviews are most effective when hiring for positions that require excellent people skills, especially when the job regularly deals with consumers or the public. Group interviews are also effective when teamwork is an integral part of the job. The group interview allows an employer to observe behaviors that are reflective of success on the job before the employer actually invests time and money into hiring a candidate. The Society for Human Resource Management

3. Know Hiring Laws

Unfortunately, it’s easy to innocently commit a hiring violation. In fact, business owners and hiring managers do it all the time. Therefore, protect your company by learning the do’s and don’ts of legal hiring.

Additionally, if you have legal counsel, have them sign off on your interview questions.

4. Review the Candidate’s Application

Don’t go into the interview cold. If you are familiar with the applicant’s background, you will have a context for understanding their answers. It will also help you maintain eye contact and stay on script.

5. Schedule The Interview Location in Advance

You don’t want to wander around looking  for an open conference room with the applicant in tow. It reflects poorly on your company and makes the applicant nervous. Indeed, that’s a bad start all around. If possible, choose a private room with comfortable chairs. Glass-walled fishbowl conference rooms don’t put either of you at ease.

Also, if it’s a video interview, make sure all equipment is ready to go. You don’t want to spend the first ten minutes figuring it out. Certainly, nothing diminishes your confidence (and corporate image) like the inability to use technology.

6. Schedule Enough Time

You don’t want to be rushed. Schedule enough time for the candidate to answer each question in depth. Add a 15-minute buffer between interviews.

7. Be a Good Communicator

The previous steps were preparatory–now you are ready for prime time.

  • Turn off your phone or have your assistant hold your calls.
  • Speak slowly and maintain eye contact.
  • Listen intently.
  • Reject any urge to vary from the script.

What type of questions should I ask the interviewee?

It’s helpful to organize questions in two categories: questions about hard skills and questions about soft skills. Hard skills are also called technical skills and are job-specific capabilities or knowledge necessary for the job role. They are acquired through on-the-job training, experience or formal education. Therefore, hard skills can be quantified. For example, an ability to write code in JavaScript, measure blood pressure or speak Spanish.

Conversely, soft skills are behavioral attributes that help an employee succeed in their work. Working well with team members, problem-solving and effective time management are examples of soft skills that would help with any job. Soft skills are also called interpersonal skills, non-technical skills and essential skills.

Recruiting Software Helps You Conduct Better Interviews

WorkforceHub ApplicantStack recruiting software helps you improve your interviewing process. Manage job descriptions, post to job boards, create structured interviews, and track applicants. The result? You will attract and hire quality employees faster.

You can try ApplicantStack for free. Visit ApplicantStack free trial.

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Simplify HR management today.

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