A successful interview process is focused on the candidate. It helps them feel valued and keeps them engaged while your company makes a hiring decision. While there are several factors that can influence the interviewee’s opinion of your company, one of the most important is how they are treated in the job interview.
Being a “good interviewer” will go a long way in making a good first impression with top candidates. You don’t have much time to make that first impression, either. Research indicates people will form an opinion of a company in the first seven seconds of a meeting.
So, knowing how to start an interview as the interviewer is key to landing the ideal candidate.
Preparation Starts Ahead of Time
To ensure you’re ready for the meeting, start by reviewing previous jobs and education on candidate’s resume. But the research doesn’t need to stop there. To get a full picture of an interview candidate, consider reviewing their:
- LinkedIn profile (look at their activity feed and “about me” sections as well as their work history)
- Online portfolio on GitHub, Behance, or another site
- Any other work samples they’ve submitted
Reviewing this information will give you insights into their abilities, or provide additional topics of conversation for your interview. For example, you could ask where a graphic designer got their inspiration for a specific piece in their portfolio.
At the very least, reviewing a candidate’s resume will keep you from asking mundane questions about information they already gave you.
You should also review the job description for the position the person is applying for. Understanding the job posting will ensure you can talk about the position and its requirements and benefits.
Finally, review the list of questions for the position. Open-ended questions can help reveal key insights into an individual’s skills and personality — but you should use the same questions for each candidate so their responses can be compared fairly.
If your hiring manager has provided an interview template, pay attention to how much time you should spend on each portion of the interview. If you have questions or concerns, don’t be afraid to reach out to your hiring manager.
Reviewing all this information in advance and having any necessary items with you when you start the interview will help you get off on the right foot. You don’t want to spend the first five minutes of an interview trying to look up a candidate’s portfolio.
Address Your Biases
An interviewer’s unconscious biases can have a direct influence on who gets called in for the next interview — or who gets a job offer. To treat candidates fairly from start to finish, understand and account for any biases before you meet with a candidate.
Unconscious bias in recruiting essentially means that people have a tendency to hire those who look, act, or think like they do. While this may be most obvious in terms of race or gender, it can also be more subtle. An interviewer might be biased in favor of a candidate who went to the same college as they did. Or, they might be biased against a candidate who they judge as “overqualified” because they think such individuals will be bored and not want to give their best effort.
In reality, diversity of all types will improve business performance. Tools like Harvard’s Implicit Association Test (IAT) can help you understand your biases so you can address them and try to judge candidates equally. Hiring managers should offer training to interviewers to address bias in meetings with candidates.
Following an interview template can also aid in this process by ensuring that each candidate is evaluated on the same criteria. Your list of interview questions should provide a space where you can take notes on a candidate’s response for the hiring team to evaluate later.
Help the Candidate Feel Welcome
No matter what type of position the person is interviewing for, they probably feel nervous. In fact, one survey found that 93% of applicants feel some level of anxiety when interviewing for a job.
As the interviewer, you’ll create a better experience for everyone by helping the candidate feel at ease. Before you dive into your formal interview questions, take some time to introduce yourself. Tell the candidate a little bit about your role with the company. If multiple team members are present for the interview, give everyone a chance to briefly introduce themselves.
Small and simple actions can help a candidate feel more relaxed. Smile. Ask them how their day is going. Offer something to drink.
Perhaps most importantly, show up on time. Even if you have great communication skills, keeping a candidate waiting will only increase their anxiety and make them feel less valued.
Mind Your Body Language
Body language is an essential interviewing skill that can communicate so much more than your words alone. Studies have repeatedly found that body language and tone of voice matter more than you might think.
Your body language and tone will tell a candidate how engaged you are in meeting with them. Smiling and maintaining eye contact when you start the interview can help candidates feel welcomed and at ease, because it tells them you’re glad to meet with them.
Some key body language best practices will help show a candidate that you are interested in them. For example, lean toward them to show you are paying attention. Don’t lean away from them, which indicates dislike. Nodding or tilting your head can also show that you are interested in what they are saying.
Resist the temptation to cross your arms, which can act as a subconscious signal that you don’t want to connect or open up to the other person. Keeping your arms open and resting on the table or at your sides shows you are willing to listen and engage.
Finally, keep your focus on the candidate and what they say. Don’t ever pull out your phone — it’ll just distract you during the meeting. Close the door if outside noises might take your focus off the interviewee. By giving them the complete attention they deserve, you can make a better evaluation of whether they’ll be a good fit for the position.
How to Start an Interview as the Interviewer Like a Pro
No matter what interview stage you are at, how you open your meeting matters. An effective interview is so much more than going through a list of questions. By giving job candidates the attention and focus they deserve, you will highlight your company culture and what you have to offer as an employer.
Prelude can help you make a positive impression before you even meet with a candidate. Our platform streamlines the hiring process with simplified scheduling and personalized, branded touch points for engaging with job seekers.
When you improve communications before you ever meet with a candidate and know how to start an interview as the interviewer, you lay the foundation for a positive candidate experience.