Modern-day interviewing skills have become somewhat of an art form. A candidate-driven market means that talent is evaluating employers to make sure there's a synergy before going into their new job. With job interviews extending into virtual territory with Skype or Zoom, there's even more of an emphasis on first impressions. 

Luckily, I've compiled some of the most important interview skills every hiring manager should master. I’ll also share a couple of ways you can improve on interviewing skills right away. After reading this article you'll learn how to provide a breezy candidate experience that applicants can’t stop talking about.

7 Key Interviewing Skills 

Many aspects of the interview process are out of our hands. These seven skills are within your control and will help to create an optimal candidate experience.

1. Preparedness

Put yourself in the shoes of the job seekers and gather relevant answers to things they care about. For example, prepare to answer questions about company philosophy, job responsibilities, and employee benefits.

While they're looking for a new job, they may want to compare notes with some of the other opportunities they encounter in their job search. It's a sign of respect that you will have considered what's important to them and prepared to answer questions about it.

If you're completely stunned when they mention their former work experience, it shows that you haven't read their resume. Reviewing the resume should be the last thing you do before meeting a job seeker for their job interview.

2. Presence

As their potential employer, you're sending a message in the interview about what their future experience might be like. When you yawn or check your phone, it may send the message that they won't be valued in their role. 

If you're easily distracted, make sure you position yourself so that you're facing away from any glass pane windows and silence your phone. Create an environment that makes it easy to focus on the job seeker. To avoid checking the time, set an alarm that lets you know when it's time to wrap up.

When you show up 100% and make proper, engaged eye contact, it communicates your interest in their application and potential with your team. For many potential job seekers being listened to and presently engaged with is novel and it will set you apart.

3. Using Structured Interview Questions

A structured job interview entails asking each candidate the same interview questions in the same order. This routine approach helps reduce bias by relying on a standardized evaluation. It also makes the interview process more predictable. The efficiency of structured interviews allows for seamless candidate experiences. Structured interviews rely less on likability points and more on core competencies which help reduce bias.

4. Creating a Comfortable Job Interview Environment

Before you jump into your prepared list of structured interview questions, warm up candidates with some light banter. If other interviewers are present whether on a call or in-person, make sure you introduce them and their job function. If you're performing an in-office interview, offer them a beverage. 

Always opt to ease their nerves by outlining your intended agenda for the meeting. Somehow, knowing what's coming next takes the edge off.

5. Actively Listening 

We're distracted, preoccupied, or forgetful 75% of the time that we're meant to be listening, says Richard Hunsaker, who wrote “Understanding and Developing the Skills of Oral Communication.” 

If we're retaining information about one-quarter of the time, it's easy to miss details or misinterpret what we’re hearing during a first impression.

Indeed defines active listening as "the ability to focus completely on a speaker, understand their message, comprehend the information, and respond thoughtfully. Unlike passive listening, which is the act of hearing a speaker without retaining their message, this highly valued interpersonal communication skill ensures you’re able to engage and later recall specific details without needing information repeated."

By learning how to actively listen, you:

  • Build rapport with candidates
  • Develop greater insight into the job seeker's mindset and motivations
  • Build trust
  • Piece together information that was missing from their work experience

6. Reading Body Language

When you think about how little information we keep through listening, it's safe to assume a lot is being communicated nonverbally. When you're sitting across from a job candidate, they'll be reading your body language. 

Body language can affect communication in these five categories:

1. Repetition: When gestures are used to emphasize verbal communication, candidates will hear the important points you’re attempting to underscore.

2. Contradiction: When body language diverges from the message you're verbally expressing, it denotes lying. If you talk about employee engagement as an important aspect of the culture but you’re avoiding their eyes or keeping an eye on the clock, it may seem disingenuous.

3. Substitution: Instead of words, perhaps telling the story with your facial expression, eye contact, or hand gestures can cement understanding.

4. Complementing: Using eye contact or facial expressions can increase the impact of a message or sentiment that is crucial to the candidate’s understanding.

5. Accenting: Punctuating a statement with a complimentary gesture like hitting the table can help to recapture focus.

Types of body language:

  • Facial expressions
  • Eye contact
  • Posture
  • Hand gestures
  • Vocal tone
  • Physical positioning

These indicators all tell candidates a story. Be mindful of how you are presenting during the interview process.

7. Thoughtful Follow-Up Feedback

Etiquette is a big part of expert interviewing skills. Proper follow-up after the end of the interview just might be at the top of that list. Your candidate will be left with a positive impression when you let them know what the progress of their application is. This is also a great time to provide feedback that you think may help them in their continued job search if you are parting ways. This type of feedback is highly valuable and is almost always appreciated by job seekers.

2 Ways to Improve Interviewing Skills Right Now

Even if you're crushing these seven skills, there are always ways to improve interviewing skills. These two will be an ongoing practice as long as you're a hiring manager.

Make Organization a Priority in the Interview Process

Being organized means you have what you need to focus your attention on the job seeker during the interview process. When the candidate has all the information in advance for their interview, they are much calmer too. 

Use Prelude as a way to schedule upcoming events and communications with candidates. The automation of this function allows you to set communication preferences according to your recruitment process and pace without having to mentally keep track of all the balls in the air.

Practice Empathy in Every Job Interview

Remember what it's like to be in the throes of a job search? That can help you provide a better candidate experience. Even if there's a strict schedule to uphold, when you let your guard down it allows for more human moments. Empathy is a constant practice that has been touted as a must-have for all modern businesses.

A 2019 Business Solver report found that empathy is a key to talent retention. It states that 93% of employees are more likely to stay with an empathic employer and 78% agree they would work longer hours to stay with one.

New Hires Start With Exceptional Candidate Experiences

Providing a memorable candidate experience with a positive first impression can go a long way with job seekers. Walking into an interview where there's a calm pace and sense of order means that everyone can relax a little bit more. To get more ideas on how to provide the ultimate experience, check out this post on how to delight candidates at every step.  

It's impossible to hire every single job seeker who responds to the job description. You'll get a sense of chemistry by paying attention to the seven tips above and building organization and empathy into every step of the interview process. When candidates feel well taken care of, they trust the process (and company) and look forward to their new job.