3 Great Ways To Improve Your Interviewing Skills

Think summer is a slow time for hiring? Think again! Gear up to ask the right questions, no matter what the weather.
CEO, MyCorporation.com
July 29, 2011

An article on interviewer tips may seem a little out of place, being that we are in a recession. On top of which, it's summer, which has traditionally been seen as off-season for human resources, as interviews are few and far between. However, an excellent article on Fortune Magazine’s website reveals that the summer hiring myth is just that—a myth. In fact, the hiring pace may even increase during the hotter months.

You see? I am not so out of place after all!

So if you are among the firms that have decided to take advantage of a slower business season to stock up on some new employees before fall, here are three tips on how to get the most out of the hiring process, from one business owner to another.

 1. Try to ask sensible open-ended questions

Ask around your office—I'm sure one or two employees have an interview horror story where they were asked a completely random question. Heck, you may have experienced this yourself. I understand why interviewers ask them; they force the interviewee to think on their feet. Plus it helps to move the conversation away from the canned answers most interviewees have holstered and at the ready. Unfortunately, more often than not, they simply re-tool one of those answers. The route of least resistance is the one most traveled.

Unless you are looking for a creative person, you probably do not need to query a potential customer service representative with the question, “If you were given a magic wand, what would you change to create your perfect first day?” If they were going to be perfectly honest with you, they would likely just make every irate customer go away so they can spend the day surfing the Web. Instead, they will cobble together an answer about how they would wish for more calls so they can help the company as much as they possibly can. When someone blows you away with a great answer to a sensible question, that says more than if they adequately answer an odd one.

 2. Be involved with the process

If you want to get the most out of these interviews, you have to remain focused and attentive. A good way to do this is to respond to the answers with more than just a “good” or “OK.” Try to open up the conversation and explore the answers that the interviewee gave. It will give you more information about this possible hire and keep you attentive to the conversation. Even if you have a large group of interviews scheduled, the conversations you have with these interviewees will change, even if the questions do not.

Be sure to also give yourself a break every once and a while. Stand, stretch, walk into the kitchen and get some coffee. This will give you a little bit of down time, which could mean the difference between daydreaming and having a stimulating conversation with a great interviewee.

3. Take notes, and review them immediately after

This is easier with fewer interviews, but even if you have a full afternoon scheduled, you still should keep a concise page of notes about every interview. You know what qualities you're looking for in a new hire, so have a printout of that list with a bit of space underneath each point. During each interview, take quick notes on which points they hit and which ones they miss. Remain engaged, and focus on the interview as your first priority. After each interview and before the next, look over your notes while the initial impression of this interviewee is still fresh in your mind. You have a bit of wiggle room if you take detailed notes, but the sooner you sit down and scan your notes, the more useful the interview will be when making a decision.

Hiring can be a bit arduous and tiring, so I hope these tips will help make your process more fruitful so that you have time to get out, unwind, and enjoy the summer weather.

OPEN Cardmember Deborah Sweeney is the CEO of MyCorporation, a company that specializes in helping to form an LLC or corporation.

CEO, MyCorporation.com