7 Things Recruiters Should Do Before Every Interview

February 1, 2016

As a recruiter, you conduct interviews. A lot of interviews; probably multiple each day. And while all that practice is good, it can (understandably) lead you to stop preparing for them as much as you should, as they become mundane.

That’s a problem, particularly when it comes to closing candidates. When surveyed, 83% of professionals said a bad interview experience could change their opinion of a role. Conversely, 87% of professionals said a good interview experience could change their mind the other way and make them likely to accept the job.

At the same time, the interview is often your one chance to really talk with a candidate and see if they’ll be a good fit for your organization. So how do you accomplish that, while also ensuring a good experience?

It comes down to preparation. Specifically, every recruiter should do these seven things before every interview:

1. Make sure you have a clear understanding of the position

Before you can successfully interview someone, it’s critical that you have a good idea of what the hiring manager wants for the role, and then structure your interview accordingly.

Stacy Zapar, a recruiting consultant, offered some suggestions on how to do this well at her presentation at Talent Connect Anaheim. She recommended an hour-long intake meeting with the hiring manager at the outset of the process to really get a clear understanding of what they want. From there, she recommended meeting with hiring managers weekly and going through resumes together, so you continue to build your knowledge of what they are looking for.

After all, research shows having strong relationships with your hiring managers is the single most important part of succeeding as a recruiter.

2. Get your interview questions ready

When studied, one thing researchers found was that structured interviews are more effective than non-structured interviews. In other words, interviews with questions prepared ahead of time are more reliable than interviews where recruiters just “trust their gut.” This has lead companies like Google to structure all their interviews.

Of course, within that structure you can still ask follow-up questions and tailor the interview as it goes along. But, having a set list of questions ahead of time not only makes for a more reliable interview, it also makes the process of interviewing easier for you and leads to fewer awkward pauses.

3. Review the candidate’s LinkedIn profile and application

An obvious one, but when you’re really busy…it doesn’t aways happen.

However, an interview is a two-way conversation - if you want to close candidates, you are going to have to impress them in the interview. To do that, you need to read their LinkedIn profile and application before they interview, as that extra information should increase the chance that they’ll feel “special” and wanted.

Even more than that, if you go into an interview with almost no knowledge of the candidate, you are going to spend half the time going over background information you already have. Instead, by looking over their history, you can ask more pointed questions and have a richer conversation with them.

4. Prepare a way to show why your company is a great place to work

Again, an interview is going to way heavily on if a candidate will actually take a job at your company or not. So you should use the opportunity to show the candidate around the office and highlight some of the aspects of your company that makes it unique.

A great example of this is what Susan Hailey did at Medidata Solutions. Hailey, who leads talent acquisition for the company, actually worked with her team to devise the best possible tour of the Medidata facility that shows off some of their best perks, while giving insight into the day-to-day life of Medidata employees.

Sounds trivial, but taking the time to devise your own perfect tour of your facility could drastically increase your ability to close candidates at your organization.

5. Know how to answer candidate’s questions, particularly about the day-to-day responsibilities of the role

Interviews aren’t just about you asking a candidates questions, the’re also are about the candidate asking you questions to see if the role is right for them. Specifically, when surveyed, professionals said getting their business and day-to-day questions answered was most important to them during an interview.

So, the more insight you can give them about the daily responsibilities of the role and what success looks like, the better. Or, you could show them a video like this…

6. Have a homework assignment ready for them, when applicable

Here’s the thing: Research suggests interviews, even structured interviews, aren’t particularly good indicators of if a person is right for your company or not. That means relying solely on an interview for screening can be a mistake.

What’s a better indictor of if a person is going to be a good fit for your company? Well, that same research shows that a relevant work sample is a stronger indicator of how they’ll perform at the role, particularly when paired with a structured interview.

When possible, prepare some sort of homework assignment for a candidate that mimics a project they’ll do in the offered role to gain valuable insight into their thought process and vision.

7. Be ready to provide feedback

Our research shows that the vast majority of professionals – 94% – want feedback after they interview at a company and don’t get a job. Professionals agreed they’d be four-times more likely to consider your company as an employer in the future if they receive feedback, as opposed to not getting any.

The problem is, only 41% of candidates said they’ve received interview feedback when rejected for a role. Therein lies a huge opportunity: by being prepared to give actionable, constructive feedback to rejected candidates, you stand to create a truly memorable and positive candidate experience.

Tying it all together

Interviews are always a big deal for candidates. No matter how well established a person is, the prospect of a single conversation deciding if they get a new job or not often leads to anxiety.

For recruiters though, it is a completely different experience. It is just part of the daily grind, no different than answering emails or attending a weekly meeting.

What you don’t want to happen is for interviews to become so routine, you aren’t putting the emphasis on them that you should. By following the seven steps listed above, you’ll avoid that, and consistently get the most out of your interviews while providing a strong candidate experience as well. 

*Image from Death to the Stock Photo

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