How to Improve Your Hiring Process & Conduct Better Interviews

Interview best practices checklist

Interviews are a critical part of any hiring campaign, and their outcomes have a direct effect on your business. Best hiring practices, including well-planned interviews, are about more than simply finding people for particular roles; they determine whether your business grows or ends up back at square one.

Understanding the interview process isn’t easy. Candidates aren’t always what they appear to be on paper, and hiring managers can fail to get the information they need to make good decisions — especially if they don’t even know what to ask in the first place.

Today, there are highly effective, data-driven ways to conduct interviews that get consistently better results. Let’s take a look at some of those interview best practices.

How to improve your hiring process

The interview process for employers can vary by company size, type, team, and particular roles, but the following list of steps should serve as a solid outline for planning any hiring campaign, improving interviews, and instituting best hiring practices.

Assess the position you're looking to hire for

1. Perform a job position analysis

Before you ever post a job ad, you need to take a careful look at the personality traits and characteristics, as well as knowledge and skills, necessary for success in the role you’re hiring for. This is known as performing a job analysis, and it’s the critical first step of any business looking to improve its hiring process.

Your job analysis helps you create a profile that outlines both the skills and personality traits that an ideal candidate would have. For example, if you need to hire a receptionist for a large office, you’ll probably need to find someone who has a friendly personality, pays close attention to details, can handle a wide variety of tasks, and works well under pressure in a busy environment. You might also look for someone who has strong skills in Microsoft Word and Excel.

Ideally, you’ll perform a job analysis for every role at your company as part of your hiring best practices. Start by administering a personality profile test to all your current employees. By testing current employees, you’ll have a much better idea of the traits you’re looking for when hiring new ones — including traits your team might be missing and those that are important for fitting in well with your company culture.

How to perform a thorough job analysis:

  • Give a personality test to all the current members of your team.
  • Use the data to develop a baseline (or ideal candidate outline) for each role, including the one you’re hiring for.
  • Speak with other stakeholders — managers, supervisors, and employees on your team — about the role and what’s needed for success.
  • Identify job skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in the position and decide how you’ll assess for them (often by administering a custom test).
  • If you don’t have a current employee in the role, you might learn from HR managers at other firms about similar roles and needs.

Hiring manager tip: Testing your current employees with the Hire Success® Personality Profile and using our baselines feature can help you outline the characteristics and mind-set needed in the position you’re hiring for.

Job description screenshot

2. Create an effective job posting

The next step in the interview process for employers is to create a job posting. Sounds easy enough, right? But many companies get this step wrong because they fail to put in the necessary thought and planning to both understand and accurately describe the skills and personality of the perfect candidate, not to mention the company culture and mission statement.

If you’ve hired someone for the same role in the past, it’s not enough to just copy text from a previous ad. The job skills required and/or your company’s needs may have changed. A critical part of interview best practices is taking the time early to rethink your needs. That’s why the job analysis step is so important.

The extra work that you put into this step will not only help you save time down the line but also result in a much better pool of candidates.

How to create a more effective job posting:

  • Use specific phrases and wording that attracts the type of person who would be successful in the role.
  • Be specific about necessary skills and traits.
  • Explain how this job differs from others with similar titles.
  • Give a brief overview of your company culture.
  • Describe how the job fits with the goals of the team/business.
  • Provide clear instructions on how to apply.

Hiring manager tip: Testing your current employees with Hire Success® and using our baselines feature can help you identify the traits and characteristics that are most successful in the position you’re specifically hiring for. We’ll even provide wording around strengths, weaknesses, motivators, turnoffs, etc. to help you craft an effective job posting that attracts your ideal candidate. And we can set your business up with a branded job site, where you can easily post and manage job listings.

Hire the right people for the job

3. Evaluate employee applications

When you put together an online application form for your job post, in addition to noting the specifics above, it’s a great idea to include one or two applicant pre-screening questions. Relevant application screening questions can help you narrow down your list of candidates, eliminating unqualified applicants.

Once you begin to receive applications, you can start sorting résumés and cover letters. If it’s clear that some candidates don’t have the basic skills, background, or education you’re looking for, put those documents into a file and get back to them as soon as possible with a rejection email thanking them for applying.

For applicants who meet all your basic requirements, here’s a list of important questions to ask before moving them to the next step in your hiring campaign:

  • Did the candidate answer all the questions you asked?
  • Are qualifications/skills clearly presented?
  • Did the candidate follow the application instructions?
  • Are there spelling or grammar errors in the résumé or cover letter?
  • Is it clear why the candidate wants this particular job?
  • Are there any unusual or unexplained gaps in employment or signs that the candidate has left jobs quickly in the past?

Applicant screening tip: Candidates that pass the first screening can be assigned skills tests, a personality profile, and/or an integrity assessment by Hire Success®. And with our cheating mitigation feature, you can be sure of the results. We recommend testing early in the process to save time.

Reduce business expenses

4. Ask targeted questions in a screening interview

A screening interview is a preliminary or first-round interview conducted to determine whether an applicant has the basic qualifications you’re looking for. They can be done by phone or in person and are critical to effectively shortlisting final candidates.

At this point, if you’ve included pre-employment testing as part of your hiring campaign, you can review your candidates’ results, using them to narrow your field further and put together thoughtful, targeted questions for your screening interviews. This is where a data-driven hiring process is extremely valuable, because some of the candidates who might have looked strong on paper may not have done so well on the tests. In a screening interview, you can follow up on areas of potential weakness and see which applicants should move on to the next step.

Interviewer tip: The hiring campaigns feature offered by Hire Success® bubbles up high-level insights about candidates based on their testing results, comparing them to their fellow candidates, and helping you shortlist favorites. Plus, we suggest employee screening questions to ask that have been tailored to each candidate, provide a Personality Profile Baseline Summary Report to help you better understand personality test results, and allow you to easily send questions and reports to other team members.

Interview process with Hire Success

5. Hold candidate selection interviews

After your screening interviews, a handful of the best candidates move on to a second round of interviews. Whether conducted in person or remotely via a teleconferencing app, these interviews are typically when managers make a final decision on a hire.

These final candidate selection interviews are your opportunity to follow up on test results and necessary skills. It’s also the time when you’ll determine whether the person will be a good fit in your company culture, asking any remaining questions that might shed more light on the candidate’s personality traits or character.

Recruitment tip: Don’t toss the valuable data you’ve collected! Use the “Hire” feature on the Hire Success® app to turn your chosen applicant into an employee, allowing you to retain the data you collected. Integrate your new hire more effectively into your business, get a head start on training and management strategies, and even create a new baseline for future campaigns. Hire Success® also offers an employee analytics feature that aids employers looking to better manage their workforce. Plus, good candidates are hard to find. Keep the second-rounders’ data on file for possible future openings.

Still unsure about how to attract, hire, and retain quality employees? Learn more by checking out our comprehensive guide to hiring the right people.

Interview Best Practices for Employers & Managers

With more than 20 years of experience in helping companies improve their hiring process, Hire Success® has gained great insight into how managers and employers benefit from best hiring practices before, during, and after interviews to ensure that they hire the best candidate for the job. The interview checklists for managers below should assist you in improving, planning, and organizing your interviews.

Interview Checklist for Managers: Before the Interview

  • Review the candidate’s résumé and cover letter carefully, noting details like education, certifications, promotions, and any gaps in work history.
  • Look for areas needing follow-up, such as incorrect answers on tests.
  • Prepare your interview questions carefully, focusing on your baseline needs, necessary skills and traits, and pre-employment test results.
  • Ensure that all questions on your list are legally compliant and relate directly to the job.
  • Determine how the interview will flow. For instance, will you combine elements of both structured and unstructured interviews?
  • Be prepared to answer questions from the candidate about the team, your company, job tasks, benefits, and reporting.

Interview Checklist for Managers: During the Interview

  • Ask questions that help you understand whether the candidate is a good fit for the position.
  • Take some notes so you can review and refer to answers after the interview.
  • Give the candidate time at the end to ask questions.
  • Be clear about next steps in the process and when you’ll get back in touch.

Interview Checklist for Managers: After the Interview

  • Decide whether you have enough information from the interviews to make your final choice(s) or whether you need another round of interviews).
  • Complete any necessary background checks.
  • Contact your preferred candidate with an offer and information about benefits, start date, etc. Allow the candidate time to consider and respond to your offer.
  • If your top candidate accepts, notify all other interviewed candidates that you have chosen another person for the position, thank them for their interest, and let them know that you will keep their information on file for the future.
  • If your top candidate does not accept, go back to your list and decide whether you will offer the position to your second choice.
  • Notify all stakeholders about your new hire.

Ready to improve your hiring process?

Take a free test run of our whole system — from hiring campaigns to skills testing to lightweight applicant tracking and more — and find out why thousands of companies have turned to Hire Success® to build stronger, more organized, and more consistent hiring systems.

Try It Free Free Demo