Interviewing Best Practices: 6 Simple Tips

As you consider prospective new employees, here are 6 proven interviewing best practices to keep in mind. All of them are designed to help you make sure you’re matching applicants to the ideal natural talents for the job.

Interviewing Rule #1

Go beyond technical skills and understand the candidate’s deeper traits and characteristics. There’s an old saying that goes, “Hire for hard skills, fire for soft skills.” Obviously certain roles call for mandatory hard skills like a real estate license or sales experience. Just be sure you understand the required personality of the ideal candidate based on the tasks and responsibilities of the job.

Interviewing Rule #2

Find candidates who have a passion for the work and your culture. The best hiring companies understand that an engaged employee is a good employee. One recent Gallup study of 180 million workers, showed that only 13% of employees felt fully engaged and passionate about their jobs. Disengaged employees are the kiss of death to an organization. They invest the least discretionary effort in ensuring optimal outcomes. They take more sick leave, and damage overall moral. They also adversely impact customer good will. Make sure you understand which of these seven motivators are the most important to an employee: Altruism, Political, Economic, Regulatory, Theoretical, Individualistic, and Aesthetic. Then determine how the role will satisfy them. By doing so, you can greatly improve engagement, performance and retention.

Interviewing Rule #3

Past performance is not a perfect predictor of future success. It may be a slight indicator, but none of the actual research has ever shown past performance to be a consistently reliable predictor of future success. Here’s why:

  • How do you find out if the past performance cited on a resume was even real? Due to our overly litigious society, it’s becoming the trend to not give references on past employees. That leaves you to assume what the applicant says is the gospel. You can then only infer that length of employment indicates success.
  • Even if they did succeed in their previous role, the more the new job differs from the old, the less reliable past performance is in predicting future success.

Interviewing Rule #4

Don’t judge a book by its cover… alone. Don’t be overly dependent on any one set of the following:

  • The personal interview. You can’t judge the quality of candidates based solely on your first impression of them. Some personalities do great in such situations, while others don’t. In other words, being able to speak well in an interview simply means that the candidate is just that and only that… able to speak well in an interview. It doesn’t guarantee anything more.
  • You may have a personal bias as to what is and isn’t appropriate attire to wear to an interview, and you may be justified. However, don’t let your own personal preference creep into the picture because you don’t like what they wore.
  • Singular items. You want to judge the entirety of the interview process, not any one single aspect of it. Just because Michael Jordan had a typo in his resume, would you pass him over if you were seeking a basketball player? Obviously standards are important, but don’t be so harsh that you overlook a great employee due to minor mistakes.

Interviewing Rule #5

Take resumes with a grain of salt. If you’re going to rely heavily on them in the interviewing process, it’s important you realize why resumes may be flawed and avoid getting burned.

  • Resumes are 100% self-reporting. You have to remember that resumes contain no statement of accuracy. Everything contained inside is subject to the interpretation of the person who wrote it (i.e., the one wanting to impress and get hired).
  • Resumes contain untruths. Studies reveal that approximately 80% of resumes contain misleading information. As many as 53% contain outright lies.
  • Resumes are historical, not predictive. Even assuming 100% of the content of a resume were completely accurate and true, it is still just an historical perspective of the past. As Rule #3 describes, past performance is not always a good predictor of future success.
  • Resumes typically omit negative information. Lies of omission are still just that – lies. While the candidate may not have outright lied, tactfully leaving certain bad news out of the resume is incredibly common.
  • Resume quality is not representative. The formatting and content of a resume varies greatly depending on what article the candidate read or which professional services they used. Some very bad employees spend lots of good money to get professionally edited resumes. Some great employees couldn’t write a good resume to save their life.

Interviewing Rule #6

Share the love and interview as a team. Whenever possible, using multiple interviewers to assess candidates is the best option. It helps to significantly remove individual biases, provides extra dimensions and opinions, and promotes much better hiring decisions. Here’s why:

  • Sometimes a single interviewer might miss a detail that another person would catch. More hands involved in the process means more accurate scrutiny and judgment.
  • While it’s OK to have some overlapping questions to gauge if the candidate’s answers remain consistent, multiple interviewers get to engage the candidate from their business perspective and role (e.g., HR versus sales, and peer versus supervisor).
  • You will learn how candidates interact with multiple personality types, levels of authority and even genders or ages. Vice versa, candidates get a better feel for the people they will be working with as well.
  • Involving those who will be working with candidates after hiring helps to get buy-in from those same people. When they have some say in who is hired, they are often more likely to have a better working relationship with them down the road.

Follow these simple interviewing best practices as you build out your team so you don’t think you’re hiring John Wayne on Friday and then Woody Allen shows up on Monday!