Successfully interviewing candidates can be a challenge. It’s something that takes preparation and lots of practice. Hiring managers can easily be charmed by someone with a great presence, but charisma isn’t the best indicator of job performance unless that person is auditioning for a role on stage.
Conducting effective interviews is critical for hiring the most qualified candidates, but as an employer, it’s also important to understand the types of topics and questions that should be avoided to prevent potential employment discrimination cases.
Always aim to be as objective as possible to determine the skills, knowledge, and other qualifications of a prospective employee while considering these dos and don’ts.
DO Create a Comfortable Environment that Includes a Brief Introduction
No matter where you conduct the interview, be sure that it offers a comfortable environment for the candidate, meaning one that’s clean and quiet. Offer coffee or water to demonstrate thoughtfulness and then provide a brief introduction of yourself, what you do at the company, and how long you’ve been there to help break the ice.
DON’T Make Inappropriate Small Talk
While you might think there’s no harm in small talk, if you bring up anything personal, including asking specific questions about the candidate’s personal life, it can create bias and/or lead to discrimination.
For example, if there’s a gap in employment because the candidate took time off to raise their child for a couple of years and you start discussing the difficulties of finding good childcare, you might unconsciously feel less inclined to hire them because of that very concern.
Avoid asking any questions about relationships, race, gender, age, religion, and political beliefs. It’s not only invasive, it’s likely to be illegal. Preparing your questions well in advance, and getting feedback from colleagues can help ensure each one is unbiased and legal.
Do Encourage the Candidate to Reveal More About Themself That Relates to the Job
All good interviewers know this shouldn’t be an interrogation. You want the candidate to feel relaxed enough to open up about themself, being friendly and approachable without doing all the talking. Find out what’s beyond the resume. Are they passionate? Are they a good communicator? What about their problem-solving ability?
Some situational questions such as “If you were faced with X issue, how would you solve it?” are good, but you can also encourage them to reveal more by asking questions like, “How does that sound to you?”
Encouraging candidates to ask questions is important so that they can also get a clearer picture of what it would be like to work for the company. Candidates with no questions may not have much interest in the role they’re applying for, rather just the paycheck.
Don’t Give Unexpected Surprises
If you’re planning a half-day or longer interview, for candidates to take tests, or meet with many different people, it’s important to let them know well in advance. Your candidate may have to get back to work at their current job or perhaps their child is with a babysitter.
Surprises like these could place undue stress in addition to being an unfair, potentially biased hiring practice.
Do Share Your Plan For the Next Stages
It’s important to inform each candidate of what to expect following the interview, providing a projected timeline of each stage in the process. If you have a deadline for hiring, tell them when you expect to make your decision.
If you plan on conducting second or third interviews, let them know whether or not you’ll contact them when the decision is made for the next round and when that might be to avoid losing them to the competition.