Successful Job Interviews: A Checklist

The ability to conduct successful job interviews is one that is often taken for granted. Candidates naturally spend days—even weeks—preparing to present themselves to potential employers, yet unskilled interviewers rarely worry about making a good first impression If you want to attract top talent to your organization, you must be prepared to ask the right questions and make a positive impact on everyone you meet.

Arriving unprepared to an interview can cause stress for potential hires. In fact, the results of a poll from show 42 percent of job seekers consider “poor preparation” the most off-putting interviewer habit, and 43 percent feel the same about “irrelevant questions”. What’s more, 28 percent of interviewers said they have gone to interviews unprepared, and some have even forgotten a candidate’s name (30 percent) or forgotten an interview entirely (19 percent).

To best represent your organization and attract the right candidates, you must be organized and stay on point. Consider this checklist your guide to conducting successful job interviews every time:

Do your homework

This is the most important way to prepare for a successful job interview. Just like you would expect a candidate to have done his or her homework on your company, you should take time to familiarize yourself with each potential hire.

Start by reviewing application materials, including cover letters, resumes and any additional materials such as writing samples or portfolios. Also be sure to vet any references listed therein.

Then go beyond the candidate’s “hand-picked” information and conduct a Google search, paying close attention to social media sites like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and personal blogs. With a shocking majority—nearly 90 percent—of companies in the U.S. using social media in their recruitment process, searching these platforms isn’t an extra step; it’s a prerequisite.

Be aware, however, that researching candidates online can lead to legal trouble. Interviewers can be accused of discrimination if they reject a candidate knowing (through social media research) that the candidate is of a certain gender or ethnicity, even if the rejection was based on other factors. If you have any questions or concerns about state or federal laws pertaining to this type of research, consult a trusted human resources professional before you begin.

Ask the right questions

When interviewing job candidates, asking the right questions means posing relevant, straightforward questions that will get you the information you need. But like candidate research, there are laws that govern the types of questions you can ask. Age, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religious and political affiliation, and other such personal topics are off the table.

During the interview you should aim to uncover three main things: a candidate’s strengths, motivations, and whether they’ll be a good fit for your organization. You should end by asking if the candidate has any questions for you. This will help clarify anything they might be unclear about, and increase your chances of a successful hire if they are your top pick.

Make a great first impression

It is entirely possible to scare away potential employees with a bad attitude. Make a great first impression by remembering what it’s like to be on the other side of the table and empathizing with those you interview.

Focus on creating a comfortable atmosphere and establishing a conversational tone for your discussion. If a candidate is relaxed (as much as they can be at an interview), you will get a better glimpse of their real personality. Plus, making an interview into a positive experience will leave the candidate with a good impression about you and your organization.

This checklist is a great starting point for honing your interviewing skills and increasing your chances of successful recruitment.

Do you have any other best practices that you currently follow to ensure successful job interviews?

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