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How to Be a Good Interviewer (With Pro Tips & Examples)

Why Is it Important to Conduct Effective Interviews?

Conducting effective interviews can help you avoid the costly mistake of a bad new hire. According to CareerBuilder1, the average cost of a bad hire in the US is $15,000, while the average cost of losing a good hire is almost $30,000. This is an important perspective!

Remember, the interview process often shapes how a new hire (both good and bad) feels about your company. Your goal is not only to avoid bad hires but also to ensure a good hire is prepped for loyalty and longevity right at that first interview.  

9 Practical Tips to Conduct an Effective Interview 

Know Exactly What You Want in a Candidate

It’s easier to find what you are looking for when you know what to spot! Not knowing what you want can cause frustration and disappointment. This is true for both you and the candidate! It can lead to hiring someone who isn’t the right fit, or your perfect candidate could get burned out quickly simply because of misperceptions and unclear expectations.

Get clear on your wants and expectations before posting the job opportunity. When you write the job description, ask yourself and others on the team these questions.

  • What traits are you looking for?
  • Are we asking too much from a candidate?
  • Are we expecting too little? (This is rare! Most job descriptions are too ambitious.)
  • Is this one person’s job, or should it be split into two roles?
  • Is this job description comparable to others in the industry? 
  • What are we hoping to accomplish when we fill this role? 

You can even draft your ideal candidate profile2,and%20traits%20for%20a%20role. to narrow your ideal fit.

Understand Nonverbals

What is the candidate not saying? Understanding nonverbals is a big part of your role as a leader. 

Remember that interviews are high-stress, so you’ll likely see some self-soothing behavior. 

Hiring managers report3 they are less likely to hire someone due to lack of eye contact, fidgeting, or crossing their arms. This is an alarming trend in the workplace, as all of these behaviors can be attributed to nervousness, shyness, and neurodivergence, among other things. 

Instead of penalizing a candidate for nervousness, look for more important red flags in their nonverbal behavior. This could include extreme behaviors such as:

  • A lip press. When someone presses their lips together into a thin line, it can mean they are holding something back. This cue is a gesture of withholding and suppression. Want to learn all 96 cues? Check out Vanessa Van Edwards’s bestselling book, Cues: Master the Secret Language of Charismatic Communication.
  • The Contempt microexpression (a small lifting of one side of the mouth). This can signal disdain or dislike. Research has found seven universal microexpressions. Learn them all:

The 7 Universal Expressions

  • A sudden change in their nonverbals when you ask a difficult question. These can be signs of withholding or changing information, and you should dig deeper into the information they’re giving.

Understanding nonverbals can be challenging! Check out our free training materials to brush up on your nonverbal skills

Be Focused and Prepared

As soon as the candidate walks through the door, your attention should be focused on them. 

  • Silence notifications during the interview, so you aren’t distracted by all the dings and pings from your busy life. 
  • Print out their CV or resume and have your list of questions ready to optimize the time. Keep reading for 35 interview questions to make this easy. 
  • Choose a welcoming seating area; if that’s not your office, look for a quiet room with comfortable chairs. 

Pro Tip: When selecting your questions, consider what values and qualities are most important for the role. 

For example, if you’re hiring for a position that requires a lot of time interfacing with clients and customers, ask questions that explore emotional intelligence and personality. 

Keep the Interview Moving

You may find yourself with someone who wants to share about every project they’ve ever worked on or a candidate who answers all your questions in under 30 seconds. 

It’s your job to monitor the pacing! 

Pro Tips: Help reserved candidates elaborate on their answers by nodding three times and waiting. This shows you’re listening and ready to hear more. Also, try smiling and leaning forward to make it clear you care what they have to say. This is an interest cue and encourages engagement. 

Take back the interview from overly communicative candidates by indicating you want to speak. You can do this by leaning forward, opening your mouth, or holding your hand up briefly. Also, watch for a pause and gently segway the conversation to the next question. 

Be Friendly and Warm

Your goal isn’t to intimidate or assert your dominance. Instead, be relaxed and welcoming. Welcome the candidate with a smile and a handshake. Make eye contact, and listen to their responses with interest. 

How you act during the interview will leave a lasting impression about your company even if the person isn’t hired. 

Pro Tip: If you have Resting Bothered Face (RBF), respond with appropriate affect––a small smile if they say something amusing or raised eyebrows if you’re interested. If nothing else, at least nod and lean forward to show you’re engaged in the conversation.

Be Interested 

A great interviewer doesn’t approach interviews pragmatically. 

We know you’re busy, but every interaction you have with others is an opportunity to share kindness and listen with interest. That’s part of being a charismatic leader! 

Show interest in the person you’re interviewing, and let them know you see them as a person with something valuable to share. Showing interest comes from how you communicate and flows from your inner state of mind. If you feel like interviews are a waste of your time, the candidate will feel that and may, unknowingly, live up to your low expectations. 

We know it can be hard to show interest and genuinely care about someone you’ve just met in the middle of a busy workday. If you’re struggling to care, remind yourself that every candidate is a potential employee—and you want to connect with them to establish rapport from day one. 

Action Step: If too many interviews leave you exhausted, it may be time to adjust your hiring process. It’s not uncommon for the interview process to include a round of interviews, where candidates have to go through a series of interviews or tasks before being interviewed by a higher-level manager. Have a conversation with HR about making the hiring process more efficient and less time-consuming for you. 

Pro Tip: According to Global Talent Trends4, “94% of talent wants to receive interview feedback, but only 41% have received interview feedback before.” 

Look for one positive thing you noticed, and mention it at the end of the interview. This could sound like, “I really appreciate the thought and care you put into your resume. It’s clear you’re taking this seriously.” or, “You have a good sense of humor; that’s a valuable asset in the workplace.” 

Take Better Notes

A competent interviewer takes notes during the interview. Include:

  • First impressions. Did they seem nervous but gradually opened up? Did they feel arrogant or cold? First impressions are clues that you can place alongside your observations throughout the interview. Look for inconsistencies and any behavior you wouldn’t want in the workplace. 
  • Things that stood out or surprised you about the candidate. This could help you make a decision if you had several strong candidates. 
  • Highlights that weren’t included in the resume or application. Instead of relying on your memory, make notes of the most important information. 

This becomes even more important if you’re interviewing a large number of candidates—good notes will help you remember what you liked and didn’t like about a potential new hire. 

Let the Conversation Flow Naturally

An interview shouldn’t feel stilted or scripted. Ironically, when it is, people who are pretending to be something they aren’t will have an easier job convincing you how great they are. 

Instead, let the conversation flow naturally as you ask the questions. 

Pay careful attention to what is being said and what they avoid saying. In a relaxed environment, candidates may self-reveal their weaknesses or what makes them special. 

Pro Tip: If a candidate mentions something that surprises you, dig a little deeper. You may discover something about them that wasn’t on the resume. This could include a special skill, volunteer experience they didn’t think to include, or a passion project. Each of these things can provide insight into their personality and where they might fit in your company. 

And do review their resume before your meeting. That will prepare you to ask questions to elaborate on their resume rather than repeating the information you already have. 

Remain Professional

We wish we didn’t have to say this, but too many hiring managers ghost their candidates. It’s not professional.

It’s even worse if you ghost a candidate (at any stage in the hiring process) and then suddenly reappear with a job offer. They’ve likely moved on, which means selecting a secondary candidate or even starting over with interviewing a new batch of candidates. 

Having a system in place ensures all candidates are treated professionally and courteously, making your job easier. 

Pro Tip: Create form letters for the various stages of the interview process. This will make responding to candidates simple and streamlined. If you have an assistant, ask them to send the emails at the appropriate interview stages or set a reminder on your calendar to ensure you send the email after the interview.  

No matter how charismatic you are, you can always level up! Try this to take your communication to the next stage. 

Communicate With Confidence

Do you struggle with small talk? Do you often run out of things to say or feel awkward and self-conscious in social situations?

💪 Speak so people listen,
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35 Great Interview Questions For Your Next Interview

Our Top 10 Behavioral Interview Questions

  1. What’s something you used to believe but no longer believe?
  2. Who were the competitors of the last company you worked for, and how did your company differentiate itself?
  3. Tell me about your best and worst days at work.
  4. If I called your current boss, what would they say about you?
  5. Are you working on anything exciting outside of work?
  6. You have two teleportation devices. Where do you place them and why?
  7. Wait… do you remember all of our names?
  8. If you didn’t have to work, why would you come into the office?
  9. Describe the last significant conflict you had at work and how you handled it.
  10. Is there something you’d like to share that I didn’t ask about?

Situational Interview Questions

  1. How would you handle it if the priorities for a project were suddenly changed?
  2. What would you do if the work of an employee you managed didn’t meet expectations?
  3. Tell me about a time you had to work closely with a colleague with whom you had a conflict. 
  4. You’re working on a key project but can’t complete it because you’re waiting for work from a colleague. What do you do?
  5. You realize a mistake went undetected at the beginning of a project, and now it’s putting you behind the deadline. What do you do?

Expectation Interview Questions

  1. How does this job fit in with your personal goals? 
  2. How would you describe your work style? 
  3. What is your perception of what we do here? 
  4. Why do you want to work here? 
  5. What can you offer us that other candidates can’t?

Emotional Intelligence Interview Questions

  1. How do you have fun?
  2. How good are you at asking for help?
  3. How do you handle a bad day?
  4. How do you recover from failure? 
  5. What kind of behavior makes you angry? 

Personality Interview Questions

  1. How would your best friend describe you? 
  2. How do you feel when someone interrupts you at work?
  3. Tell me about a time you disagreed with a manager or colleague. 
  4. Which superhero would you want to be, and why? 
  5. If your manager asked you to complete a task that seemed impossible, how would you approach it? 

Problem-Solving Interview Questions

  1. What would you do if two different managers gave you two urgent tasks with the same deadline?
  2. What do you do when you can’t find a solution to a problem?
  3. How do you organize your daily workload? 
  4. Tell me about one of the most stressful situations you faced at work. 
  5. Do you try to solve a problem on your own or first ask for help?

Tips & Tricks to Prepare for Every Stage of the Interview Period

Pre-Interview Tips

  • Have a hiring process in place. How many stages are included in the application process? Is there a phone interview, a group interview, a one-on-one, and then a final interview with a specific manager? Know these things in advance so that the hiring process is clear for you and everyone involved. 
  • Identify what you want in a candidate. Also, decide if you’re willing to hire someone with less experience if they have strong, soft skills and good potential. 
  • Make sure the candidate has clear information on the interview time.
  • Review their resume, cover letter, and anything else they included in the application. Make notes on what you want to explore further, and note anything that needs clarification.
  • Make a list of 5-6 questions to ask the candidate. These questions should operate as a guideline for the interview, as you’ll want to ask other questions to follow up or clarify what the candidate shares. 
  • Be prepared to answer any questions from the candidate about the company’s mission, vision, values, and details of the role. 
  • Plan 30-90 minutes for the interview, and block that time out on your calendar. 
  • Before the interview, silence your phone and close anything on your computer that sends notifications. If you’re working from home, close your door or let anyone in your home know not to interrupt. 

Do This During the Interview

  • Smile and welcome the candidate. Creating a welcoming space will help them present their best self. 
  • Start out with a light conversation and then outline what they can expect from the interview.
  • Share about the company and the role. Include what makes your company special and your vision for the future. Keep this fairly brief.
  • Take notes as you ask questions, paying attention to their nonverbals and whether they seem interested in the job.
  • Allow time for them to ask questions as well.
  • Finish the interview with clear instructions on what happens next, such as information for another round of interviews, whether you need further information from them, and how long until you make a decision.
  • End by thanking them for their time and finish the interview with a smile and a handshake. 

Finish Strong With the Post-Interview Period

  • Send out a form letter letting them know they’ll hear back from you after a set time to evaluate all candidates.
  • Determine whether or not you want to move forward with the candidate. If the answer is a no, send out a simple form letter letting them know. 
  • If you decide to move forward, reach out to offer them the position, provide instructions on what they can expect next, and set a start date.
  • Contact HR and find out what they need for the onboarding process.

5 Top Traits and Abilities of a Competent Interviewer

Wondering what makes for a good interviewer? We’ve identified the key qualities every competent interviewer should utilize to conduct effective interviews.

  1. Charisma: A charismatic interviewer is warm, open, and friendly. What this looks like is different for each person. Even if you’re not big on smiles, or verbal affirmation, you can still be open and welcoming in a way that fits your communication style. Want to know if you are charismatic? 

Take our Charisma Quiz to find out your style!

  1. Self-Awareness: What are your biases? Regardless of who you are, you’ll gravitate to people that make you comfortable or even remind you of yourself. Be aware of these implicit biases, and hire candidates based on the job description instead of your personal preferences for personality and perspective. 
  1. Focus and Awareness: A great interviewer isn’t focused on the 10,000 things on their to-do list. They are focused and present with the person in front of them. This is true whether you’re conducting an interview or having a regular one-on-one meeting
  2. Calm: A relaxed interviewer will make the candidate feel more relaxed. Once they are relaxed, it will be easier for them to interact consistently with their regular persona.
  3. Preparedness: A competent interviewer is prepared with questions and has reviewed the application. Being prepared shows you respect the candidate and are someone that will be good to work for. 

Interviewer FAQs 

How can I prepare for an interview as an interviewer?

You can prepare for an interview as an interviewer by reviewing the candidate’s application, planning your questions based on the information you already have, knowing what you want in the candidate, and communicating clearly before the interview. 

How many questions should a good interviewer ask?

A good interviewer asks about 5-6 questions. Asking a lot of questions isn’t ideal because you won’t get a clear picture of who the candidate is or how they communicate. Asking fewer questions gives them space to share more information and gives you a better picture of their skills, personality, and accomplishments. 

How can I ask effective interview questions?

To ask effective interview questions, ask questions that are open enough the candidate has the freedom to share what they feel is important but specific enough that it isn’t overwhelming or confusing for them to come up with an answer. Avoid asking questions that assume an answer or have already been answered by their resume or application. 

How can I evaluate candidates effectively?

You can evaluate candidates effectively by paying attention to all the small details. Ask yourself these questions. Was their application sloppy? Was their email or phone communication before the interview polite and respectful? Were there any red flags like arrogance, talking badly about their previous employer, or seeming to misunderstand basic industry details? 

How should I follow up after the interview as an interviewer?

As an interviewer, you should follow up after the interview with a simple form letter. Thank them for their time and let them know the next stage in the process is to evaluate all the candidates. Indicate how long this takes so they aren’t left hanging and know when to expect an answer. Very few workplaces do this, but good communication is just as important for you as the person you interviewed! A clear and professional hiring process sets you apart from other companies that candidates may be considering. 

Key Takeaways to Be a Better Interviewer

  1. Be prepared. Plan out your questions, and know what it is you want in a candidate.
  2. Be warm and charismatic. This will create a relaxed atmosphere for the interview and build your leadership skills.
  3. Watch the nonverbals. Look for nonverbals that aren’t congruent with what they are saying, but be forgiving of self-soothing behavior like fidgeting or low eye contact.
  4. Take notes. You might forget something that was a red flag or that impressed you during the interview. Make notes to keep track of what you think of the candidates.  
  5. Guide the conversation. Keep the pacing at a good flow, and ask follow-up questions that dig deeper into answers that could reveal important characteristics about the candidate.
  6. Be professional. From start to finish, conduct yourself in a way that is respectful of your candidates and represents your company well. 

Once you’ve hired a candidate, the next step is onboarding! Having the right onboarding process has been proven to increase employee retention. Learn How to Welcome a New Employee to The Team with our detailed guide. 

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