How to Conduct Better Interviews: Remotely and In-Person

Interviews are a critical part of hiring. That's why it's vital that you and your hiring managers learn how to conduct a great interview every time. Done well, your interviews will give you the information you need to understand the strengths and weaknesses of candidates and what they can contribute to your organization. Here are some tips for how to interview someone, remotely or in-person, to improve your hiring decisions.

10 steps for conducting a great job interview

Interviews are a key element on any hiring process checklist. These tips on how to conduct an effective interview will give you real insight into your candidates so that you can hire the right person and avoid problems with the interview process.

  1. Establish a personal connection. No one performs well when they're nervous. A guarded candidate might not give you the information you want. Establishing rapport and putting interviewees at ease will set you up for success. You'll also create a positive impression of your company and its people, making it a place candidates want to work. Start by introducing yourself, thanking the candidate for their time, and making some casual conversation to establish the mood and flow of the interview.
  2. Set expectations about the interview. Before jumping straight into your interview questions, give the candidate an idea of what they can expect during your conversation. Explain the structure of the meeting with an overview that includes introductions, background about the company and role, your questions, and time for the interviewee to ask questions. You can also give them an idea of next steps after the interview and timing.
  3. Provide your questions in advance. Consider providing candidates with interview questions in advance. You give them the opportunity to think through their answers and can then evaluate their ability to plan and deliver their thoughts. Letting your candidates come prepared is both a skill-based and behavioral-based approach that gives you an idea of the type of employee they'll be.
  4. Always explain why you're pausing or looking away. If you must pause or shift attention, tell the interviewee why. You might need time to catch up with what they're saying while taking notes, or to reference the candidate's resume or portfolio on screen. You don't want to give the impression that you're multitasking or otherwise not prioritizing the interview and candidate. Explaining your momentary shift in focus is important for both in-person and remote interviews.
Steps for conducting a great job interview.
  1. Open up a dialogue. How to conduct an interview really depends on your ability to get the candidate to open up and share their approaches and perspectives. You want them to provide a full explanation of their background, abilities, and experience. Gathering complete information will help you verify information and compare what they say to how they performed on a personality test or a phone screening. Open ended questions are best in this case.
  2. Ask situational questions relevant to existing problems. While it can be helpful to provide many questions in advance, you might also want to see how a candidate handles a question without preparation. Effective interview questions for this approach are situational. Ask the candidate to imagine themselves in a role confronting a specific problem. Ask them how they would handle it. It is easier for them to provide an answer to a hypothetical situation than to ask them about a specific situation.
  3. Follow up on areas of potential weakness. Ideally, you will have screened pre-employment test in advance of when you conduct an interview. These tests not only give you a screen for finding the best candidates, they give you insights into areas where you might want to further probe in the interview. Ask about candidate weaknesses to determine if they will be an impediment to success or just an area for further development.
  4. Take notes. Don't try to rely on your memory. Even if you only interview a handful of people, it is easy to forget who said what. How to conduct a great interview begins and ends with great notes. If the candidate is comfortable with it, record the interview and use an AI-transcription service. These are a good back up to your note-taking, but they shouldn't serve as a replacement. You will process candidate answers better and will be able to respond to them during the interview if you engage in taking notes.
  5. Give the candidate time at the end to ask questions. How to conduct an effective interview isn't all one way. Give them a chance to ask questions of you. You will gain insights into what a candidate cares about, how they think, and how prepared they are. Questions are as insightful as answers.
  6. Be clear about next steps. Changing jobs is stressful for a candidate. It is likely they are interviewing at more than one company. By giving them clarity around the process and timing, you increase the chances that you won't lose them to a competing job offer. Being clear about next steps when you conduct an interview helps both you and the candidate manage expectations.

What is the key to conducting a successful interview?

What is the key to conducting a successful interview?

As with so many things, the key to how to conduct a great interview is preparation. The more you know about the candidate's personality and skill set, the better you can plan your interview questions and topics.

Our data-driven solutions will help you prepare

Effective pre-employment testing will save you time, help you focus on the strongest candidates, and will help you prepare when it comes to how to interview someone. The right candidate screening tests will depend on the role and industry. That said, some of the most universally useful tests include the ones below.

Personality test.

Finding candidates that will fit into your culture and excel in a given role depends in no small degree on that person's attitudes and personality. Personality tests will find potential red flags and give you insights into interview questions and where to probe more deeply.

Aptitude test.

Certain roles require problem solving skills and the ability to make connections and think outside the box.. Aptitude tests cover a variety of cognitive abilities like reading comprehension, attention to detail, and the ability to think logically and solve problems.

Integrity test.

It's important that your employees follow all of the rules and safety procedures that exist within your organization. With integrity testing, you can determine which candidates will be the most honest and reliable on the job by spotting red flags ahead of time. This reduces risk by helping you avoid fraud, workplace injuries, and other potential conflicts.

Custom hiring test.

Your industry, the specific roles you need to fill, and the specific type of person you seek to hire can be unique to your situation. Pre-employment testing does not have to be one-size-fits-all. You can combine multiple categories of questions to create a role-specific assessment or create custom tests from scratch for a testing program that fits your needs.

Read more resources for conducting great interviews

Knowing how to conduct an interview is a skill that develops with time, practice, and experience. We invite you to explore these other resources as you build your aptitudes and abilities in interviewing candidates and finding the ideal employee.