Interviewing — An Art
The article describes how to effectively and efficiently conduct an interview. with tips.
Image by Tumisu from Pixabay
How to conduct an interview. Few to-dos and don’ts while interviewing a candidate.
I have conducted over 200+ interviews over the past three years and attended a few.
From the ones I have attended, it is observed that most of the interviewers prepare a set of questionnaire in advance for the interviewee to be grilled and this is what makes me worry about the interview process being followed for decades now.
Is it really a standard to follow or are we just doing injustice to the talent? I must say almost 90% of the interviewers follow these practices and hardly 10% are really interested in the knowledge one possesses, and how their talent could be useful to the organisation they hire for.
From the interviews I have attended, it was not enough for me to reach out to a conclusion about the interview process (still it was 96%-4% 😿 ), so I just did a survey among people I know over years to know about their interview experience. And it turns out (err..as expected) that most of the interview experience was bad or was not up to the mark. I have heard so many saying;
“we could conduct a better one.”
So, I have penned down few important aspects to be kept in mind while interviewing the candidate and to listen to the magical words from the candidate saying — “this was one of the best interviews I have attended”.. (not to boast..but I get this feedback a lot of times when I finish evaluating a candidate)
Never prepare to conduct an interview:
Do not prepare a fixed set of interview questions beforehand. This basically depicts that you are not ready to evaluate the candidate and just taking an exam with certain expected answers from the domain syllabus. But, it's good to have a few questions known, to stress during the interview but without bookish definitions as expected answers. Be more adaptive during the interview.
Interviewee drives the interview and not you:
An interviewer acts like a ringmaster incessantly. This leaves a gap and abrupt end to a great discussion and merely becoming Q&A session. Allow the candidate to put up their view and answer. An interviewer must form their next question based on the interviewee’s reply to the current one. This makes sure that you know the candidate better and progress the interview in a more efficient manner.
K.Y.C. — Know Your Candidate:
KYC applies here too. 😉 It is always a good practice to spare 5–10 minutes knowing your candidate at the start of the evaluation session. Ask the candidate about their domain expertise and do read the resume. Learn about the work they have accomplished in the past experience. Learn about their interests and what they seek as part of their job change. This would help you to know in-depth the candidate you are about to evaluate and which road the discussion is to head.
Provide them details of the work role you be offering:
Explain the role you are looking for to hire rather than keeping them hanging until the last breath of the interview session. It always helps the candidate to add more weight to the answers if they seem that they are a good fit for the role you looking for.
Offered-role based knowledge evaluation and learning capabilities:
It is vital to learn if the candidate you are going to hire would fit the role and the organisation. If they possess prior knowledge relevant to the offered work-role if hired, it’s always a cherry on the cake situation as you don’t have to spend much time grooming. But it also crucial to know if they don’t have the experience and see how would they adapt and know their learning approach.
One of my favourite questions during most of the interviews is when they say no to a particular question; “if this is what you need to work on, how will you manage?” this gives you an idea about the process they would follow when something is not known and new, and how they would learn it and get it done. A lot of people complain that they being rejected with the reason that they didn’t have prior experience on a certain field. So, if you reject everyone it leaves you with a scarcity of talent to choose from and you might miss a real talent in the process.
Evaluate on the knowledge they possess along with few basics:
Based on the interviewee’s introduction and their resume, ask questions pertinent to their work experience. Do not restrict yourself to pre-meditated questions to evaluate a candidate. But that does not imply overlooking the basics of the expertise domain you looking for. To accommodate, ask a few and most important basic questions.
Ask followup questions:
If the initial answer looks fit enough, proceed with a followup question. Then observe how they react to the followup question based on their answer. You can even add more followup questions as to test the knowledge depth. For example with a basic question: “what 2+3 adds up to?” and then followup would be, “how would you add decimal point numbers?” (*very basic question, not related to an actual interview unless it is for kids 😜)
Ask scenario-driven questions:
Don’t follow the www. Most of the time, as an interviewer we commit to the mistake of asking definitions starting with; what, why, when. Avoid these mistakes. We are not in school anymore to seek definitions. It compels the candidate to provide with definitions and at the max few of them end up stating a use-case as an example. Instead, construct a scenario around your question and check for the analytical ability of the person being interviewed.
Be open to constructive answers:
Be open to ideas and multiple solutions for a problem statement. Do not expect bookish definitions for your questions. Seek more of use-case examples as part of the answer from the candidate. I have seen interviewers getting offended and frustrated when you provide multiple solutions on the table and they expect only one as per their analysis and eventually getting bad feedback or rejected. So, avoid looking for specific verbiage unless its the key_term.
Get to know about their personal aspirations:
Before concluding the evaluations, do check the candidate’s personal aspirations and career goals. The candidate will have few expectations, so it is better to know in an intellectual manner what they seek for and what we offer would not create a deadlock for the candidate’s goals.
Evaluate on multiple factors:
When it comes to evaluation, an interviewer decides in the first 10–15 minutes if the candidate seems fit or if they would be rejected or accepted. And it is mostly based on the answers to the technical discussion. Do not limit the evaluation to Technical only. Alternatively, consider more factors like communication skills, team player, leadership role, analytical abilities, ability to listen to others, problem-solving approaches etc. along with technical skills. Based on the aggregate of all these factors decide on the result of the evaluation.
Give them feedback:
Last, but not the least and I feel which is very important, is give them FEEDBACK. There is more failure rate for an interviewee to be rejected rather than selected. Either way, give them feedback on the improvement areas and strengths also. If not at the end of the interview, do let them know over the email the reason for rejection/selection and what they can improve on, rather than keeping them hanging and wondering about why they were rejected.
This is another major observation that feedback is not provided to the candidates and being simply told that it didn’t work out or the feedback was not positive enough. Instead, giving feedback would help them know their strengths and weaknesses which would make sure they work on them and be better prepared for the next interview. It does not cost much to do good. 😃
So, keep in mind these few factors while conducting an interview. These are not must to do or don’ts, but definitely worth applying in the process and you would end up hiring better talent and doing justice to the candidates.
The world does not end if something is new or not known. Let them learn and implement. As rightly said: “With great power comes great responsibility”
iOS developer by profession with core interest in new technology and RnD in innovation. I also write, sketch, paint in my free time. I am passionate about football and a football player.