Job interview dos and don’ts for the interviewer

Job interviews are a crucial part of the hiring process, but they can be daunting for both the interviewer and the candidate. 

As an interviewer, it’s essential to make sure that you are conducting an effective and fair interview that provides valuable insights into the candidate’s skills, experience, and personality. In this article, we’ll discuss the most important job interview dos and don’ts, including how to prepare, how to ask the right questions, and how to create a positive and welcoming environment for the candidate. By following these guidelines, you can conduct interviews that are fair, effective, and that ultimately help you select the best candidate for the job.

Job interview dos and don’ts

Job interview dos:

Be prepared. Show the candidate the same respect that you expect them to show you. Research the person and their resume before the interview. Don’t show up unprepared. It’s not uncommon for interviewers to skip this step – and it shows. Prepare a list of questions in advance that are relevant to the position and the company. Take the time to tailor your questions to the position.

Focus on the first impression. Be professional, friendly, and welcoming to the candidate. Be on time. Smile. Make eye contact (not too much eye contact. That’s creepy). They want to make a great first impression and so should you. 

Make the candidate feel comfortable. Be relaxed and approachable. Start with an icebreaker question to help the candidate feel more at ease. They’re probably nervous. Offer them water or coffee. They’ll pick up on your vibe and that will set the tone for the conversation. 

Use active listening. Pay attention and show that you’re doing so with your body language. Don’t interrupt, ask follow-up questions and make a real effort to understand what the candidate is saying.

Take notes or record the interview. Don’t leave it to chance. Take notes during the interview or record it – with permission from the candidate – to help you remember important details. Otherwise you will forget.

Eat lunch and snacks. When you’re hungry, you might not be able to pay full attention or do a fair assessment and some evidence suggests that candidates who interview before lunch fare worse than others.

Ask behavioral questions. Instead of asking how someone would handle a situation, increase revenue or redesign a system, ask them how they have done so in the past.  Imaginary tasks are much easier than real ones.

Ask open-ended questions. Open-ended questions allow the candidate to provide detailed answers and will get them talking better than closed ones. “Tell me about a time…” questions, for example, are great. (eg. “Tell me about a time when you solved a problem”). So are “Can you describe…” questions like (eg. “Can you describe how you handle workplace conflict?). 

Give a clear overview of the company and position. Be as descriptive and as thorough as possible so the candidate knows whether they would be a good fit or not. 

Give the candidate an opportunity to ask questions. Don’t forget to open up the floor for the candidate to ask questions of their own. These will tell you a lot about the person you’re speaking with. 

Explain the process, timelines, and next steps. Let them know how long things are going to take and what the steps are on your end and theirs. Be honest about it.  

Follow up and follow through. Treat the candidate with respect. Keep your word on that timeline. Don’t ghost. Any candidate who has interviewed deserves a follow up to let them know if they are or are not moving on in the process until they are informed that they did or did not get the job. Anything less is rudeness that reflects badly on you and your employer brand.

Job interview don’ts:

Show up late, be rude, or show any less respect than you expect to be shown yourself.

Don’t interrupt the candidate while they are speaking.

Don’t rush through the interview or appear disinterested.

Don’t ask leading questions that suggest a desired response.

Don’t judge the candidate based on irrelevant factors like appearance, background, or culture.

Don’t make promises that you cannot keep.

Don’t ask questions that are not relevant to the job or company.

Don’t ask questions that have already been answered in the candidate’s resume. This suggests you didn’t read it. 

Don’t be vague or unclear about the position or the company.

Finally, don’t base your decision solely on the candidate’s performance during the interview. Many people don’t interview well but turn out to be wonderful employees. We all know that the job interview is a bit of a game or a performance. Everyone is worried about asking the right questions, giving the right answers, and making the best impression, which is stressful – and most people are not at their best when they are stressed out. Keeping that in mind, if you have a good feeling about a candidate and they look good on paper but blow the interview, don’t be too quick to dismiss them. They might surprise you.


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