The first secret is knowing what you want, before you start the interview. You need to understand the role that you’re interviewing for, the purpose of the role, and the outcomes the role is required to produce for the organization. In addition, you should understand the core functions of the role, who the ideal candidate needs to be, what competencies the ideal candidate needs to have, and what the right experience is for this kind of position.
The second secret is to use an interviewing guide. You can either use a work history interviewing guide that gives you all the questions that you need to answer – like a template or a format – or use a values-based behavioral interviewing guide.
Even after all the years I’ve been in recruiting, I prepare for interviews to ensure I ask all the right questions to make a conscious choice. I’ll be honest, there are times I’ve found myself on autopilot and I immediately reschedule the interview, or get access to my interview questions, so I can get back on track.
The third secret is to get yourself mentally prepped to be in an interview. Many of us are doing 15 things in an hour, and then we rush to do an interview. Or, we do an interview on the run or in our car or a coffee shop. We’re not present and we’re not listening, which causes us to have a superficial conversation and make a decision based on a few things we’ve heard and many things we didn’t hear or didn’t want to hear. This only leads to regret down the road, so it’s important to be present. It’s also important to be in a quiet place, and in a frame of mind to be ready to listen and most importantly, ready to hear.
The fourth secret is to listen from a place of curiosity and open-mindedness. You’ve already defined the role, you know what the core functions are and what the ultimate purpose of the role is. Now you listen to learn: “Does this person have the core competencies, the values, the work history, the attitude, the belief system, and the skills that your company needs for them to do this job?” What’s most important to listen for is who the person is, what they can do and what they want to do.
The fifth secret is for the end of the interview. Let the candidate know you’ll get back to them in a specific period of time with an answer or next steps. Go through a checklist and debrief within an hour, so you don’t forget anything that was really important. You want to spend 10 minutes reflecting on how you experienced the candidate’s answers, as compared to what you need.