Guide: 10 best interview practices to hire the right person

Hiring handshake following successful interview
Axelia Partners’ Talent Search experts have years of experience interviewing job candidates. They gathered their 10 best interview practices that can help hiring managers to go beyond the résumés and canned answers, and select the right employees for the job and the company.

1 – Explain your hiring Process

To ease the tension and create an atmosphere of transparency, begin by telling candidates about your company’s interview process. Be specific, with details, such as:

  • Whether you are inviting them for a first or final interview
  • Whom the candidate will meet
  • What role those people will play in the decision-making process
  • What tests will be given or required
  • How long the candidate can be expected to be on the premises, directions, parking, etc.
2 – Find Reasons to Say ‘Yes,’ Not ‘No’

Keep an open, positive mind to the candidate’s potential fit. If you want to find a reason NOT to hire someone, you will always be able to do so. Instead of trying to find reasons why hiring a certain candidate won’t work, try to find reasons why it COULD work.

3 – Always Be Selling

After being honest–ONCE–about the possible challenges, keep in mind that you are selling your company during the interview. You want to play up the advantages of working for your organization during this time. Don’t turn candidates off.

4 – Get Candidates to Relax And Reveal

Don’t make a job interview feel like an interrogation. It should be more like a friendly conversation to get to know a possible future team member. Don’t cross your arms. Present an open stance, be relaxed, smile a lot, and get candidates to talk about something else besides their resumes and job experience. People reveal more about themselves and their character when they are relaxed.

5 – Don’t Believe Everything You Read on a Résumé

The statistics are well known: More than half the résumés submitted contain information that isn’t entirely true. Or at least some facts have been embellished. How to smoke out the real truth? Two ways:

  • Focus on what the résumé DOESN’T say as much as on what it does say. Are there gaps in the résumé? The candidate could be trying to omit an employer who will give a bad reference because he was fired for stealing or some other offense.
  • More likely, the candidate may have overblown his or her role in a project or in specific achievements. A résumé entry like “Led new customer service initiative” may mean no more than having stood at the door and handed out surveys. To ferret out the truth, ask candidates what they actually did on a job or a project, and encourage them to be as specific as possible.
6 – Play the Movie Forward, Not Backward

Many hiring managers start asking candidates to describe their last job, which is logical because it’s probably what prepared the candidate most for the current job for which you’re considering him or her. The candidate comes prepared to talk about that job, so you will probably get well-rehearsed and embellished answers.
This is counter-intuitive, but you might learn more if you ask the candidate to start with the FIRST relevant job they ever had. It may well have been a formative experience, and the candidate doesn’t expect the question – so you’re likely to get more candid answers.

7 – Ask About Real Achievements, Not Hypothetical Ones

Don’t try to paint a picture of situations the candidate would encounter on the job if he or she would be fortunate enough to get hired and then ask what the future employee would do when faced with such circumstances. Candidate will surely tell you what they think you want to hear. Hypothetical questions and answers have little value in predicting future behavior.
It is much better to learn what the candidate did in a previous position. Try to find a close analogy with the possible future job, and ask the candidate what he or she actually did in a similar circumstance.

8 – Learn How Much They Want the Job

The worst thing that can happen is that you make a firm job offer, and the candidate runs to his or her current employer – or another possible future employer – and asks them to match or improve your offer, thus negotiating a better deal somewhere else.
Always try to find out how interested the candidate is in really taking your job. Are they likely to get a counter-offer from their current employer? If such, you may want to suspend the interview until they have decided that they really want to work at your company.

9 – Get Them to Do the Talking

You are selling the advantages of working for your company, so you do want to answer their questions about your company and the job being discussed. But be careful not to do too much of the talking. You want the candidate to do most of the talking.
One way to achieve that is to constantly ask for feedback from the candidate:

  • “How does that sound to you?”
  • “What are you hearing me say?”
  • “After hearing this, tell us why you would want to work here and why you would be a good fit,” etc.
10 – Invite Them to Ask Questions – And Listen Carefully to What They Ask

You often learn more from the questions the candidates ask of you than from the answers they give to your questions, which often are well rehearsed. Example: “My main shortcoming is that I tend to work too hard.” Invite them to ask many questions, urging them on if necessary with a “Come on, you must be curious about this place and what it’s like to work here. Ask away. Let us help fill you in.”
If they ask only about the hours and the pay, that tells you a lot. You probably don’t want them. They’re likely to be clock-watchers, and all they want is a paycheck. You want people who really think your company is exactly the place they want to work.

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