7 foolproof interviewing techniques

Doomsday scenario come interview day? You fail to gather the depth of information you need on your candidate, who ends up rushing for the exit door feeling more than a little awkward. Sounds comical, but it happens to bundles of businesses all too often.

Here are seven tips, truisms and interviewing techniques for employers to run a steady ship come question time - helping you to wheedle out the info you need to make informed decisions about your applicants.  

1. Environment matters

Find somewhere quiet where you can speak without losing focus on the conversation. Your space should be private too. You might feel comfortable having your colleagues within earshot, but it will ratchet-up the pressure for your candidate if they feel that others are listening in.

Reserve your room ASAP if booking is required. Block out the diaries of everyone on the interview panel. And double check everything the day before your interview. Flapping around trying to find an empty room or missing colleague while your applicant loiters in reception will not reflect well on your company.

And that's important because...

2. Interviews are a two-way thing

Of course, you hold most of the cards. But remember that your candidate is searching for the right fit too. You are an ambassador for your company, so it's best not to rollout your version of the belligerent Alan Sugar thing.

Be ready to make a glowing impression. Explain why working for your company is such a buzz. Get your candidate excited. Thank them for their time. You don't know who else is waiting to snap up the potential prodigy sat in front of you.

3. Know the ABCs of candidate CVs

Good interviewers are active, not passive. Knowing a few facts on the background and accomplishments of your candidate shows respect. More importantly it empowers you to ask questions that force your applicant to elaborate on their career history. That has two benefits: 1) you can check if their competencies match the role; 2) you can make sure the candidate is everything they claim to be on paper.

Unsure of what skills to look for?  

4. Explain how the interview will run

It's just good practice. It will help your applicant feel more comfortable too. Remember to leave time at the end of the interview for questions from the candidate.

5. Interviews go quickly. Choose your questions wisely

You only have a few minutes to gather crucial information on your applicant. It's not easy. And hiring the wrong person can be eye-wateringly costly. Bottom line? It's imperative that you ask the right questions.

Replace yes/no questions with open-ended alternatives that allow your candidate to answer thoroughly. Ask follow-ups that push past pre-prepared answers and force your candidate to think decisively on demand. You can even throw in a curveball - but our advice would be to go easy on the weirdness.

  • Why is a tennis ball fuzzy?
  • If you were a pizza deliveryman, how would you benefit from scissors?
  • You're a new addition to the crayon box. What colour would you be and why?

Come on. Look for actual evidence of your candidate's abilities. Evidence that your candidate is a good fit for your team. Evidence that their enthusiasm for your company is authentic. Finally - and importantly - check with your legal department about the legality of your questions. There are some absolute no-goes. (We can help if you are unsure.)

6. Forget about taking notes (for yourself)

If you need notes on the interview, have someone else sit in and write them for you. It's hard to concentrate on having a productive two-way conversation, one that shows respect to your candidate, if you are feverishly trying to scribble every last utterance onto a piece of paper.

7. Analyse your candidate's body language

It's said that body language is responsible for up to 58% of human communication. You could learn a lot about your candidate by studying their posture, facial expressions, hand movements and more. Easier said than done during a one-one conversation. It might pay dividends to hire a body language expert to sit in on your interviews.

As you can see, interviews are about much more than mundanely separating wheat from chaff. With the right interviewing techniques you can take an active role in finding a candidate that fits your vacancy, your business and your budget.