18 Employer Interview Tips: How To Interview People for a Job

Closeup of a money in man’s pocket

Most people who come to this blog are looking for a job and therefore at the mercy of employers and anyone employers choose to do screening and interviews for them. (Including computers programmed to screen in ways that often miss a lot of good candidates.) But some of you may one day at one point in your career also have the honor of being an interviewer or playing a role in the hiring process.

So it might be a good thing to create a list of tips for anyone on the buying side of the interview. I’m going to start the ball rolling, but by no means do I consider my list complete. Please feel free to add your own suggestions and thoughts to our Employer Interview Tips list. The interview you save might be your own!

Interview Tips for Employers & Folks in Charge of Hiring

  1. Please don’t let just anyone screen resumes.
  2. Please don’t let just anyone make screening calls.
  3. If you are strapped for employees and/or cash, please at least have a word with the person doing the screening and make sure they really know what they’re doing and what you want.
  4. If you rely on automated screening of resumes, please make sure the people programming in the key words really understand how to do it well and how important this initial selection via key words is.
  5. When it comes to screening, cast a wide net at the initial pass if at all possible, despite the massive numbers. You may catch a big fish. (I have found and hired good people who would have been totally missed in a rigid screening.)
  6. If you say you’re going to call someone, make sure you do. If you see you’re going to be late or not able to do it at all (perhaps you found THE candidate), please let the interviewee know ASAP.
  7. Please take the time before you start the hiring process to have a general action plan and inform everyone in advance of their roles and potential timing.
  8. Please keep candidates informed. I know how hectic things get, but initial understanding of the anticipated process flow and a simple level of feedback can help keep people from jumping out of their skins – and maybe save you lots of unnecessary e-mails and phone calls.
  9. Let the candidate know how they can best keep informed of what’s happening. If you don’t want phone calls or e-mails, let them know. It drives them crazy to just hear crickets chirping. At least if they understand it’s simply your policy, they won’t take it quite as personally.
  10. When you call folks in for interviews, help them by letting them know if this is going to be a lengthy process – for instance if you know this round alone will take a few weeks for scheduling reasons or whatever.
  11. When you conduct an interview, treat each candidate with respect even if you already know it’s a “no”.  (Offering them water or maybe a cup of coffee / tea when they get there and having a comfortable place for them to wait is a big plus.)
  12. Take some time to familiarize yourself with the candidate’s resume and job description. You’d be surprised how many people “wing it”.
  13. Ask questions that give the candidate a chance to tell you about themselves. Don’t try to trap them or give them a hard time just to see how they do. Come up with good, open ended questions that let them show you who they really are.
  14. Be clear about what you’re looking for and what the job entails. And ask questions that really get at whether they can do the job by probing past experience – both successes and failures. (How they approach the question and how they actually handle failures can be a good indicator of  what they’re like to work with.)
  15. If you check references, please don’t check everyone’s references. People sometimes look for a job for months and months and their references shouldn’t be bothered unless there’s a pretty sure offer coming.
  16. If you really aren’t interested in someone, please don’t wait until the end of the entire process to let them know. I understand this is the policy in many places, but it can be a cruel one. Maybe this policy should be revisited? Or at least, let candidates know up front this is the way you plan to do it.
  17. Please wrap up the process and let people know where they stand as quickly as is humanly possible. It’s good for them and for you. Sometimes the hiring process drags on and on simply because no one person is driving it. Make sure someone good at moving things along has the wheel.
  18. BIG BONUS: If candidates who didn’t get the offer call for feedback after the process is over, see if you can provide at least some constructive feedback. (I know there may be policy reasons you can’t.)  Or suggest other places in the company or elsewhere for her/him to look. Or maybe there’s some p/t free-lance work you can clue her/him into. Even talented, dynamic people start to feel their self-confidence slipping after months of being out of work. A small act of kindness like this can make a huge difference.