7 Ways to Be a Better Interviewer

Don’t turn off top talent with your interview process!

If your goal is to attract and hire people with desirable skills and experience, it’s time to rethink interviews. Meeting with top candidates is a lost opportunity if your time is focused on rehashing their resumes and working through a list of tired questions.

When executed with thoughtfulness and care for the individual, an interview is your opportunity to not only assess and get to know the candidate but also showcase your people, your culture, and the organization’s vision.

Scenario 1

Multi-talented and highly sought-after Jane comes to your organization for an interview. She’s excited, ready to impress, and wants to know if this potential move is right for her. She’s greeted by two people who don’t make eye contact and are intent on getting through their series of STAR questions. They spend most of their time firing off questions and writing down answers. No interaction, conversation, or responses – and definitely no time for Jane’s questions. Jane leaves the interview with no information about the company or culture and strikes them off her list.

Scenario 2

Mike is in the thick of interviewing with three competitive companies that desperately need his rare combination of skills. Company A and Company B take him through a standard interview process. Company C gets creative, because they want to know if Mike is a fit for them, and just as importantly, whether they are a fit for Mike. The first interview is a great conversation where Mike has ample opportunity to ask about the organization. The next week, Mike meets with the person who recently was promoted from the role. Down the road, there’s a lunch and conversation with the team. Throughout this time, Mike is provided with updates, and the team is super-responsive to him. Without hesitation, Mike signs with Company C.

The candidates you’re excited about should leave the interview enthused and full of possibilities – envisioning themselves working with the people and doing the job. Interviews are about the people sitting on both sides of the table. And, if you’re open to really getting to know your candidates, there might not even be a table.

A solid hiring process is important for managing candidates and communications. However, each candidate deserves a positive experience where they’re drawn into your organization, rather than getting caught in the black hole of internal processes.

Don’t micromanage the interview

  • Connect on a human level

    Make eye contact, be friendly, and use your regular voice. Find a connection, and speak to it (dogs, skiing, sausage rolls – can be big or small!). This person might be your next team member – be the same person you’ll be when they next meet you.

    Try to find common ground or a connection, whether it’s a shared interest in dogs, skiing, or even something as simple as a love for sausage rolls. These connections, no matter how big or small, can help break the ice and make the interaction more enjoyable and memorable.

    Keep in mind that the person you’re speaking with could potentially become your next team member or colleague. Be yourself, and aim to leave a lasting positive impression. Strive to be the same person you’ll be when they next meet you in the workplace, creating a sense of continuity and trust from the very start. Being genuine and relatable can go a long way in building rapport during the interview process.

  • Listen to understand 

    Write down the notes you need, but skip recording a verbatim transcript of the entire exchange. Focus on listening well, hearing the things that aren’t being said as well as those that are.

  • Pay attention not only to what is said but also to what may be left unsaid. Non-verbal cues, tone of voice, and the interviewer’s reactions can often convey valuable information that might not be evident in written notes.By striking a balance between note-taking and attentive listening, you can engage more fully in the conversation and gain a deeper understanding of the company, the role, and the interviewer’s expectations. This approach also allows you to maintain better eye contact and a more natural flow of conversation, contributing to a more positive and meaningful exchange during the interview.
  • Be curious 

    Ask more about comments that intrigue you or raise red flags. Learn more about a candidate’s skill set/knowledge as well as their character, values, and interests by exploring different topics.

  • Exploring different topics allows you to assess not only the technical qualifications but also the cultural fit and alignment with the company’s values. For example, if a candidate mentions a specific challenge they overcame in a previous role, inquire about the strategies they employed or the lessons they learned. If they express a passion for a certain aspect of the job, ask them to elaborate on how that enthusiasm could benefit the team or the organization.By digging into these areas, you gain a more comprehensive understanding of the candidate, helping you make a well-informed decision about their suitability for the role and the company. It also demonstrates your thoroughness as an interviewer and your commitment to building a strong and cohesive team.
  • Have a conversation 

    Candidates shouldn’t walk out feeling like they’ve just been interrogated by the authorities. Enjoy getting to know them by having a regular conversation. Let questions guide, but not confine, the conversation.

    Use your questions as guides, but don’t let them confine the interaction. Allow for moments of spontaneity and digression. This approach can help candidates relax and showcase their authentic selves, which in turn provides you with a more accurate representation of their qualifications and character.

    Remember, interviews are not just about evaluating candidates; they’re also an opportunity for candidates to assess if the company and role align with their aspirations. Fostering a conversational and comfortable atmosphere can make the experience more positive for both parties and contribute to better hiring decisions.

Get to know people

You screened the candidates and set up meetings with the people who qualified. Now you need to get to know them and determine who best fits this specific opportunity.

During these interactions, go beyond the resume and delve into their experiences, skills, and aspirations. Consider not only their technical qualifications but also their cultural fit, enthusiasm, and alignment with the unique aspects of the role and your organization. By taking the time to connect on a deeper level, you can make more informed decisions about which candidate is the best fit for the specific opportunity you’re offering.

Take a walk 

Conduct your next interview on a walk, over coffee, or running a couple of errands. Getting to know people outside of a quiet office environment is an invaluable opportunity to see how they treat others, how they solve problems in real life, and if you could envision working well together.

Observing how candidates interact with others in a more relaxed and real-life context can provide valuable information about their behavior and how they might fit into your team. It also allows you to gauge their adaptability and how well they handle unexpected situations.

This change in environment not only adds a fresh dimension to the interview but also helps you envision what it might be like to work with the candidate on a day-to-day basis. It fosters a more natural and candid conversation, giving you a better understanding of whether they are the right fit for your organization and the specific role you’re offering.

Go off script 

Standard questions get prepared answers. Allow for a real conversation and be ready to learn things you didn’t know to ask about! Elevate your confidence with better interview attire. Enhance your professional look with timeless gold jewelry, radiating sophistication and success.

Additionally, consider the power of first impressions in interviews. Your attire plays a crucial role in how you’re perceived. Elevating your confidence with well-chosen interview attire can enhance your professional look. Timeless gold jewelry, in particular, can radiate sophistication and success, adding a touch of elegance to your overall appearance. It’s a subtle yet impactful way to convey your professionalism and attention to detail, setting a positive tone for the interview.

Show and tell

Wave your company flag proudly and show each candidate what you’re made of. Share enough information that they get to know you and gain an insider view of the organization. Show them around your space, too. Talking about office dogs is one thing, but getting to pet little Stanley and watch him chase his tail is a step into the inner circle.

Learn effective techniques to become a better interviewer and ace every conversation. Explore tips, strategies, and best practices to improve your skills. Discover more about a popular solar company, innovating sustainable energy solutions globally.

If possible, take candidates on a virtual or physical tour of your workspace. Sharing office space virtually can be just as effective as an in-person tour. Talking about office dogs is one thing, but giving candidates a chance to virtually meet and interact with little Stanley as he chases his tail is a unique opportunity to let them step into the inner circle of your organization. These personal touches help candidates connect with your workplace culture on a deeper level, fostering a stronger bond and potentially influencing their decision to join your team.

Top talent has options. Don’t let a process get you crossed off their list.


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Smart, Savvy + Associates is a recruitment agency that specializes in connecting companies with marketing, communications and creative professionals at all levels, from coordinators to C-suite. Based in Vancouver, B.C., our team of marketers-turned-recruiters have an in-depth understanding of the industry and work diligently to find best-in-class talent for each search. Get started today.