How to Be a Good Interviewer

Being able to interview job candidates well is an important soft skill to develop as you advance in your career.   Once you need to make hiring choices for your company, it is worth to invest time to develop the ability to identify the right candidates that has the right skills and culture fit for a job opening.   This is because any bad hiring mistakes cost the company money and time and could also affect your reputation.

Here are six tips I recommend on how to be a good interviewer

  • Start with knowing what qualities and skills you are looking for in a candidate – what soft skills, hard skills? what characteristics you want to avoid? By the end of the interview, you should get a good enough sense to know whether to recommend her or not for next round.
  • Prepare questions that will help you gauge these qualities (they could be behaviorial questions, case questions, or clarification questions about their resume). I tend to do at least 1 of each in an interview. I prefer to do a case question as it helps me gauge how a person thinks and communicate on his/her feet and deal with unexpected issues. You can always use google to get good sample interview questions. For the case, use something you have done before.
  • Coordinate with fellow interviewers – You don’t have to assess all the qualities. You only have limited time. Agree with other interviewers on what you will assess and what they will assess to save time. I had seven rounds of interviews with Google once where almost every single person asks me the same question (Tell me a time where you managed a difficult person and how did you handle it?) I can see 2 or 3 people wanting to ask the same question, but all 7 is too much. Clearly they didn’t communicate with each other.
  • Control the pace You are the interviewer. If a candidate is running on too long, politely cut them off and ask your other questions. It doesn’t help you or him for him to run on. You have every right to control the pace and move the conversation along what you need to assess.
  • Leave time for their questions: leave 5 or 10 minutes for this. If you really run over, you can offer to arrange a follow up call/email for his questions. Offer this only if you are really interested in the candidate. This is not necessary in all cases.
  • Practice makes perfect and alway learn something: No one is born a good interviewer. It takes practice. The good news is there is room for error. You are not the only one interviewing this person. If you run out of time, you can always follow up with email/call if you really want to. Most importantly, learn from every interview, so you know what to do or not to do in the next one you conduct.

Have fun with this process. Hope this helps.  I am always in your corner


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Marty Pollard

Make sure that the interviewee does most of the talking. The more they talk the more they will reveal about themselves. One of the more painful things in the world is to remain silent when the interviewee has given you their prepared answer. Just wait for them to start talking again and see where it will go. Or prompt them to tell you more if necessary. This will mean fewer questions on the interviewer’s part. So make the questions count! It is important to know what you are looking for to have a few good questions and to guide the… Read more »

Judy Huang

I would say that in general, adjust the questions in light of the timing. Also, its better to be more targeted in your questions vs. not. For instance, instead of asking for experience highlighting their top 3 qualities, try asking what's their top 3 strengths, and then follow up with an experience that highlights one or two of those strengths.