Growing your team? Starting your business? Filling job vacancies?

You need to interview.

And if you’re an employer who’s on the ball when it comes to making the right decisions for your business, then you need to interview right, too.

But while you might be enlightened about what’s essential for your business, not everyone intuitively knows what’s essential for the interview process.

Not sure you know what’s best for your interview approach? No problem!

In today’s article, we’ll go over the essential things that any interview needs to be a success!

The STAR Formula

The STAR formula is a way to organize your question-asking so you can understand the events that define your candidate’s career history.

Instead of just asking “yes or no” questions that offer answers with minimal insight, the STAR method lets you get a complete picture of what a candidate is capable of, and what they can achieve for your business too!

S is for Situation. Start by asking your candidate to describe a situation they faced that demonstrates the key behaviour or skill set that you’re interested in.

T is for Task. This is where you invite the candidate to describe what their tasks were, allowing you to see how they visualized their goal and what the starting state was compared to the finished state.

A is for Action. Ask about what specific actions they took to achieve their goals, giving you insight into their analytical and problem solving abilities.

R is for Result. Let them relay what the outcome was. This will let you see how they measure success, and how aware they are about the effects their actions may have caused.

Using the STAR approach, you can create a standardized set of questions that will give every applicant equal opportunity to share their work history in a way that doesn’t skip any important details.

It’s also a great way to set up questions that explore Emotional Intelligence and soft skills. Ask about situations that deal with conflict resolution, stress management, and anything that would indicate they are a strong match for your company’s culture.

Know What NOT To Ask

Some questions aren’t just taboo, they may even be illegal to include in your interview questionnaire.

These are things like:

  • Age
  • Marital & Family Status
  • Ethnicity
  • Religion
  • Gender
  • Fertility/Pregnancy-Related Questions
  • Salary History
  • Disabilities

You also need to ensure that any questions about citizenship pertain solely to whether they are legally entitled to work in your country or province. Avoid asking about their place of birth, or anything which does not necessarily impact their work eligiblity status.

Sometimes, candidates will bring up some topics without your asking. It is ok to listen, but you should assure them it will not have any bearing on their standing for the position.

Set Them At Ease

Interviews can be stressful for everyone involved.

One of the best ways to reduce your anxiety about ensuring interviews go well is to take time to reassure the candidates.

Make sure you take time to introduce them to everyone in the room, welcome them, allow for small talk, offer them a beverage — all the things that you would find comforting if you were visiting a new place yourself.

When your candidates feel more comfortable in the space, they’ll feel more comfortable opening up to you as well. This leads to more honest answers, giving you better insight and allowing you to make better decisions about who to hire.

Another excellent way to build rapport is to ask engaging follow-up questions. After a candidate replies to one of your standard open-ended questions, ask them about something specific to what they’ve just shared.

This lets them know you are listening, and will invite them to speak more candidly about their qualifications.

Keep A Record With Notes

After a long series of interviews, you will remember each one differently — guaranteed.

You may even confuse yourself if you’re not organized, forgetting who said what and when.

It’s important to take diligent notes so that when you go to compare your findings, you have all the information you need. 

Consider creating a template for your notes. Just like you have a template for the questions you plan to ask in order to keep all the interviews consistent, you can have a template for your notes which will allow you to compare and contrast candidates with consistency. A scorecard is one popular way to do this.

It’s also important if you need to report your decision making process to another manager or owner. Or if you need to compare notes with other recruiters who attended the interview.

Beware Of Bias

When meeting people for the first time, we are all prone to making snap judgements about them. It’s only natural, but it’s not always a good idea.

In an interview setting, making uninformed decisions is dangerous to you and your business. 

Not only could your bias prevent you from seeing a great candidate for who they really are, but it can also cause you to put more stock in an unqualified candidate than they deserve.

A major source of bias is body language. People from different cultural backgrounds, and with different abilities/disabilities, will act differently than you may expect.

Always be asking yourself if your judgment is based around the qualities of a good candidate, or about irrelevant qualities of their person.

Watch Out For These Red Flags

While sometimes a red flag is just a flag, when there’s enough of them it should set off alarm bells about a candidate’s qualifications.

Some of the most common potential problems are:

  • Errors on their resume (spelling, grammar, formatting, etc.)
  • Difficulty communicating
  • Poor listening skills
  • Lack of professionalism
  • Inappropriate outfits
  • Avoiding specific topics
  • Too quick to answer every question
  • Mentioning other job offers unnecessarily
  • Overly-focused on salary and benefits
  • Lying

End On A High Note

For many job seekers, landing an interview is a real accomplishment.

Even if they may not get the job, it’s important to show respect for their efforts and the time they spent helping you find a new employee.

At the end of each interview, allow some time for them to ask questions or inform you about anything they did not have a chance to during your questions.

This is a great opportunity as well for you to talk about why working for you would be ideal for them. By talking freely about the company and answering their questions, you can make the job seem more attractive. This keeps candidates interested, and less likely to accept other offers while you make your decision.

You should also thank them for their time, and provide them with information about the next steps in the hiring process so they can leave feeling informed and excited.

And now you have the skills to make any interview a great one, from start to finish!