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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 A-players (people with desirable skills and experience who have options), it’s time to rethink the interview. Meeting with top candidates is a lost opportunity if the time is focused on rehashing their resumes and working through a list of tired questions. Executed with thoughtfulness and care for the individual, an interview is your opportunity to not only assess and get to know the candidate but to 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 in 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: A-player Mike is in the thick of interviewing with three competitive companies who 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 and 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 are super-responsive to him - and without hesitation, Mike signs with Company C.

The candidates who you’re excited about should leave the interview enthused and full of possibilities – almost seeing 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 to manage candidates and communications. But each candidate deserves a good experience through an approach which draws them in to your organization, rather than gets caught in the black hole of internal processes.

Don’t micromanage the interview

  • Connect on a human level – make eye contact, be friendly, 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.
  • Listen to understand – write down the notes you need, but you likely don’t need a verbatim transcript of the entire exchange. Focus on really listening – and hearing the things that aren’t being said as well as those that are.
  • Be curious – ask more about comments which have intrigued you or raised a flag. Learn more by exploring topics, about a candidate’s skill set / knowledge as well as their character, values and interests
  • Have a conversation – candidates shouldn’t walk out feeling like they’ve just been interrogated by the authorities. Enjoy this “getting to know you” conversation – let if flow, just like a regular conversation. Questions can guide but don’t have to confine the conversation.

Get to know people

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

  1. Take a walk.

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

  1. 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!

  1. 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 the “insider view” of the organization. Show them around – talking about office dogs is one thing but getting to pet little Stanley and see him chase his tail is a step into the inner circle.

Top talent have choices – don’t let a process get you crossed off their list.


ss_jayleneJaylene Crick is Smart, Savvy + Associates' Recruitment Team Leader. With 15 years' tech marketing experience and a passion for connecting people, Jaylene leads her team to find high-calibre marketing, communications, creative and sales professionals with proven track records and in-demand skills for companies who need them, across the Pacific Northwest. We also provide leadership and training development programs for workplace programs, corporate retreats and individual growth opportunities. Contact Founder and CEO, Peter Reek, to discuss your organization's training needs.

Jaylene Crick

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