10 Great Interview Techniques for Recruiters and Hiring Managers

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DetectiveThis Week’s Question:  Interviews are supposed to separate the wheat from they chaff; they’re supposed to identify the best candidates for the job. What techniques do you use to do just that? How do you ensure your job interviews really help you make the best decisions?

“One thing I love to do is measure how intense a candidate is — this is assuming they can do the job already.

“I will look at their hobbies and ask them about these hobbies. If they can only say, ‘Yes, I play chess,’ its a telling sign of how intense they are. After all, this is a self-selected passion. If you cannot be super passionate about your passion, I’m not sure if you could be passionate about the job.”

– Roger Wu

“Non-verbals, including facial expressions, body language, and vocal patterns, show whether someone is under stress or is comfortable and whether or not they are confident in their statements. For example: it’s a red flag if a candidate makes a bold statement about what they will do, but shows a lack of confidence in their non-verbals.”

– Melinda Marcus

“Make your immediate team central to the interviewing process. It’s imperative to get multiple perspectives on candidates. I’m a fan of having candidates interview with senior team members, peers, and, when possible, junior team members. Hiring is a major decision, and while the hiring manager has the final call, receiving several perspectives increases the likelihood that the hire will be a good fit over the long term.

“You want to see how the candidates react to being interviewed by a more junior person or a peer. Believe it or not, I’ve seen a number of candidates be dismissive and impolite toward younger interviewers. This is a fatal red flag. After the interview sessions, I gather my team and we compare notes. Smart people are a dime a dozen. Finding someone who is smart, hardworking, and a decent person — someone you can stand to be around for 45-50 hours a week — is a different story.”

– Tom Skypek
Cofounder and CEO

“Know as much as you can about the interviewee before the interview begins. Use the time in the interview to probe and ask questions that dive deeper into their skill set and personality, rather than keeping the conversation surface level.”

– Shayleen Stuto
Talent Coordinator

“Use a grading rubric so that you won’t fall in love with personality. A rubric can prevent you from jumping to conclusions by replacing emotional judgment with bite-sized factors, helping you make objective micro-evaluations about each candidate.”

– Jordan Wan
Founder and CEO

“I start the interview by simply asking, ‘What questions do you have for me?’

“If the candidate has insightful and curious questions about the company’s business, its strategy, challenges, successes, recent news — anything that shows some interest and that the candidate has done some research and/or networking — then we are off to a great start. I answer the questions, and then we get to my questions.

“On the other hand, if the candidate misses this incredible opportunity to impress by not having any questions, or asking only about benefits, time off, dress code, free snacks, etc., then the interview is brought to a quick end and the candidate is dismissed. In my opinion, there is no worse response to being asked ‘What questions do you have for me?’ than ‘I think I’m good; HR has already answered my main questions.'”

– Kurt Greene
President and owner
Arrow G Consulting 

“[At Frontier Communications], Senior Vice President of H.R. Jim Oddo and his team rejiggered the entire interview approach to get a better look at candidates.

“They ditched resumes [because they saw them] as an ineffective way to get to know candidates and see how they would fit the job at hand. They moved to a video-first recruiting process, using short on-demand video interviews to replace resumes and phone screenings.

“The result? [Oddo] indicates they have gotten to know potential candidates in much more relevant, personal, and meaningful ways, well beyond what a piece of paper could do. They are also able to vet high-performing candidates that don’t typically make it through the traditional interview process: the long-term unemployed.”

-Maggie Habib
Owner and President
M Public Relations 

“Our favorite interview technique has been shaped by other cultures. We put relationship-building in front of the actual interview questions — much like a tea ceremony.

“When our applicant arrives, we offer them a drink and socialize with them. We talk all the small talk stuff that is rather common, and we then invite them to play a game with us, such as Unreal Tournament. Again, this is all prior to asking formal interview questions.

“This allows us to gauge the applicant’s ability to mesh with the team and thrive in an environment where team-building is as important as individual work. This technique also relaxes our applicant into being more natural when the formal questions start.

“Unlike your run-of-the-mill interview, we ask the tough, prepared-answer questions first, such as ‘What’s your biggest weakness?’ As the interview goes on, we tailor the questions to the individual and the position they seek. We find that, while some candidates are great people to have in the office, they might not be a good fit for the atmosphere, which is just as important as technical and creative skill in our company.”

– Rob De Ville
Duobus Design 

“Try before you buy! We are slow to hire because we really want to get to know people before they join our team. We do the traditional phone interview and in-person interview to start, but those candidates that make it through these rounds are invited to come work for a day. We put them to work on an existing team to see what skills they have and how well they play with others.”

– Kenneth Combs
CQC Home 

“I prefer a conversational interview technique, rather than a question/answer format. I select a recent project or accomplishment from the candidate’s resume and ask the job seeker to tell me about that project. For some people, that’s all the prompting they need; others may offer only a sentence or two and require follow up questions. The discussion that follows from these questions gives insight into the candidate’s thought processes, as well as their decision-making, and problem-solving skills.”

– Sean Pritchard
Cofounder and Partner

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Ask Away is Recruiter.com’s weekly column. Every Monday, we pose an employment-related question to a group of experts and share their answers. Have a question you’d like to ask the experts? Leave it in the comments, and you might just see it in next week’s Ask Away!

By Matthew Kosinski