Interviewing do’s and don’ts

This is a follow on to another blog I wrote, What I learnt from interviewing 50 people in a year, to detail a bit more in depth some of the do’s and don’ts that I found in interviewing and training interviewers.

Do

Prepare

Know your subject and questions. If it’s an interactive question where you are asking them to do something, you should definitely have done it yourself first and also try to find out all the possible solutions you can. This means you can help guide candidates as well as try to avoid them going down dead ends, by nudging them when necessary.

Know what you’re trying to achieve

This is probably the biggest piece of advice I could give. I think it’s extremely important to have goals while interviewing and go for them, if you’re blindly letting the interview go it can be a very meandering experience and depending on who you are interviewing this could go well, or go very wrong. Some people need to be coaxed into opening up and this is easier to do when you have objectives.

Interview on behalf of your company

You’re not actually deciding if you would hire this person or not, you’re deciding if they would suit your company or not and if they would provide benefit, I found this usually lined up with whether I would hire them or not, but there were subtle differences in who I would personally hire and who would suit the company best.

Time management

You’ve only got so much time with your candidate, you need to make sure you learn what you need to during your time with them. The things that make them someone who would work well with your company and the areas where they would bring diversity and what negatives they could bring too.

Take Notes in a template

I found a good template for taking notes after an interview invaluable, it helped me coalesce my thoughts into a final answer, I would start with a brief paragraph summary of my experience, then a list of things I liked and disliked, followed by digging a bit more in depth into parts of the interview that struck me as important, and finally I would go back to the start and give a yes or a no on the candidate, I only did the final single word answer after doing the rest, as sometimes writing your thoughts down can help you finalize your experience and answer. This was great whenever we didn’t have a meeting to decide right away, or if I interviewed a few people in a short period of time.

Make it a great experience

You should try to push the person you’re interviewing to learn about them and how they deal with hard problems and questions, but there is no reason you should be doing anything to make them unduly uncomfortable. I firmly believe that no matter what an interview can be a great experience for both parties with a good preparation and a little effort on the interviewers part.

Don’t

Lie

You should never say anything untrue, we all want to portray the best sides of our company and that’s fine, but never stretch that tale too far, if you convince someone to come work for you, it should be what they want as well and they shouldn’t end up feeling tricked at any point in the future, because of something you said.

Put down your company

This almost goes without saying, but since I’ve seen it happen it does bear mentioning, you’re welcome to share some of your companies failings but this should never be in a bad light.

Be flippant

This is something great to do doing and something worth doing well, no matter how experienced you are, this is an important task and you should take it seriously.

Judge Candidates Against Each Other

Judging your candidates against each other is usually a mistake as it doesn’t give you a consistent measure of comparison and if you interview 5 candidates on month, and 5 the next month, they could all be fantastic the one month and not so great the next. What you need to measure against is something internal to your company, so no matter when you interview or how many people you do in a batch, it’s always a consistent metric you’re using.

Closing

There are 100’s of do’s and don’ts and most people will find their way given some time. This is just a few guidelines that stood out to me during my journey.