Often, we focus on the mistakes that job seekers need to avoid when interviewing. Rarely do we discuss the mistakes that hiring managers make. Yet those very mistakes could be causing great candidates to decline a second interview, or turn down your job offer. Interview etiquette helps you minimise problems that can arise and help you avoid creating a bad impression.
You expect your candidates to arrive prepared for their interview, and the same is expected of you. Make sure you read any resumes before the interview starts. Have a list of questions prepared in advance that relate to the jobs responsibilities. An interview is not the time to start winging it, candidates can tell when you are not prepared.
Start on time – end on time
Punctuality can never be overemphasised. You are setting a tone of how a candidate is expected to behave should they become an employee. Not only is it essential interview etiquette but great office etiquette too.
Punctuality requires zero talent but reaps great reward. Respect candidates time by making sure that interviews end on time. if not a couple minutes early. They may have other interviews scheduled, and having you hold them up will not endear you to anyone.
Know what is inappropriate
While some interview etiquette mistakes are common, there are some that are far more serious. Any questions or comments that involve ageism, sexism, racism, or any other nefarious isms prohibited by law, should never make their way into your interview. Maintain constant vigilance that none of these biases worm their way into your communication. Enter every interview with an open mind, and a careful tongue.
While you don’t have to wear a suit and tie, you do need to look your best. How you dress should be an indication of your corporate culture. However, keep in mind that this is still a professional meeting. Create a great first impression.
Minimise your distractions
Don’t take any calls. Cellphones need to be away and on silent. If you are meeting in your office, close your email to avoid notification pings. Minimise any office distractions by making sure everyone is aware you are in an interview, and to only interrupt should a fire alarm go off. Make your interview space a focused one.
Instead of focusing on the next question you need to ask, employ your listening skills. Pay attention to what candidates are saying. Pause at the end of their answer, as their second level response could be much more in-depth than their first one. By actively listening to them, you are able to diversify your questions to match what they have already told you, and dive deeper into any pre-planned answers.
Remember not to interrupt. It can be tempting to jump in to clarify what a candidate is saying. But doing so throws people off their train of thought and can disrupt the flow of a great interview.
It’s a conversation not an interrogation
Your potential employees are not on trial – don’t interrogate them. Without a good conversation, you will never get to know a candidate’s true personality. Smile, relax, and get less formal. The opposite will cause the candidates to stress and clam up. You are looking for candidates to truly open up about what they are looking for in their next role, and to get them excited about this opportunity.
Ask the same set of questions for the same job
You will likely be interviewing 2-5 candidates for a role. If you are not asking them all the same set of questions, you will have no way of evaluating them properly. This doesn’t mean that you cannot ask an additional question that come up based on your conversation. It means that your core questions should stay the same for every interview for the same job.
Behavioural questions instead of trick questions
There should be a behavioural interview portion to your conversation. This will give you a better idea of how a candidate will react in situations they are likely to encounter. Make them specific to past performance and situations.
Don’t fill your interview with trick or off-the-wall questions that have no relation to job responsibilities. If your question has nothing to do with culture fit, it should remain unspoken. You may want to see how a candidate thinks on their feet, but you can come off as unprofessional.
If you are letting your unconscious bias get in the way of interview etiquette, you are doing yourself and your candidate a disservice. During and after you have completed interviews, take time to think about exactly what it was that a candidate did or said that turned them into a ‘No’ for you. This method of analysis will help you begin to distill the decisions made as a result of unconscious bias from those made based on fact.
Stop looking for a superhero
It is unrealistic to expect that there is one perfect candidate out there that will fill every one of your requirements. People come with a wide variety of skills and industry experience. You need to look at a candidate’s actual qualifications and how they can excel in your role. Doing otherwise will cause you to waste time and miss out on exceptional candidates that could be perfect with minimal training.
Leave time for candidate questions
This interview is not all about you. Interview etiquette demands that you acknowledge that by leaving time for candidate questions. Give candidates a chance to interview their interviewer. You don’t ever want a candidate leaving with unanswered questions.
Allow interview etiquette to help you
You may find the interview process as stressful as your candidates do. Interview etiquette helps you appear the consummate professional that you are. Knowing crucial interview etiquette ground rules puts you ahead of the game.
You don’t have to do this all alone. If you are looking to fill open roles with highly skilled, pre-qualified candidates that are a good fit and will be long term assets in your company connect with one of us today! Let’s work together to make your company the success it should be.