Employer interview techniques

The job interview is a chance to connect the dots and determine whether a candidate is really qualified for a job.

Beyond the questions you ask, how you conduct the job interview is just as important.

It’s not always an easy meeting to navigate, but adopting best practice employer interview techniques can make a significant difference towards your outcome.

If you’re preparing for an upcoming job interview, here are our recommended interview guidelines to help you and your company identify the top talent for the role you’re offering.

1. Invest time planning your questions and employer interview techniques

A strong employer interview doesn’t have to centre on tough questions – though planning questions in advance is important.

In particular, be sure to add some behavioural questions to the mix, such as like “Tell me how you solved a recent challenge”. These can provide insights into a candidate’s initiative, problem solving skills and ability to work with others.

2. Develop a framework for the interview

Establishing an interview structure ensures all ground is covered in a limited timeframe without overlooking critical pieces of information, or becoming sidetracked by a candidate.

A typical structure starts with an outline of the company and what the role involves. This is followed by posing a series of questions to the candidate, then asking the candidate if they’d like to ask any questions of their own.

Open the discussion by explaining to candidates how the interview will progress. This keeps everyone working on the same page and eliminates surprises that could throw an otherwise strong candidate off track.

3. Take the time to review each resume

Sure, you have a busy schedule today - but it’s always worth making the extra effort to review each candidate’s resume before the interview.

This helps avoid asking questions that may already be answered in the resume, and ensures any uncertainties about the candidate are addressed.

Similarly at the conclusion of each interview, take a moment to jot down some notes about the candidate. This is especially important when speaking with a large number of candidates as it can be easy to confuse individual applicants once the round of interviews is completed.

4. Listen

Listening is pivotal to good employer interview techniques especially as it’s easy for hiring managers to focus on what they are going to say next and thereby miss a key comment by the candidate in the present.

Good listening calls for concentration. While the candidate is speaking, also consider the sort of language being used. Do responses sound overly rehearsed or are they truly reflective of the individual?

5. Look for non-verbal cues

The ability to read a candidate’s body language can be a valuable employer interview technique. Bear in mind that a job interview can be a nerve-wracking experience, and an element of fidgeting, nervous laughter or rapid speech can be quite natural.

Consider whether the candidate carries themselves with poise. Do they give the impression of being confident and capable? Is the candidate comfortable making eye contact or continually trying to avoid your gaze?

Importantly, does the candidate appear engaged and interested in the conversation or are they glancing at their watch (or worse, their phone) as if they’d rather be elsewhere?

The flipside is that hiring managers need to be aware of their own body language. Leaning slightly forward in a chair can demonstrate interest in what a person is saying. Try nodding or smiling occasionally to help put a nervous candidate at ease.

6. Keep the conversation focused on the role

It can seem polite to enquire about a candidate’s hobbies or personal interests. However, there are good reasons why one of the recommended interview guidelines for employers is to stick chiefly to questions related to the role.

You need to be mindful of the risk of hiring a candidate because you like them rather than because they have the best skills and experience for the job. If the conversation starts to veer away from your planned discussion points, remember to rein it back in.

7. Confirm next steps

At the end of the discussion it’s important to close the interview by explaining how you will follow up with each candidate. Make the date and means of communication (email or phone) quite clear and thank the candidate for their time. Then make a commitment to responding to each candidate by the allotted date. It’s a professional courtesy that reflects well on both you and the organisation.

Finding the candidate best suited to a role can be challenging. Following our recommended employer interview techniques helps to narrow down the choice of suitable applicants as well as leaving candidates with the impression that the company is well run and a place they want to be a part of.

Want more hiring tips and recruitment advice? Visit our recruitment process hub.