Poorly conducted interviews can result in bad hiring decisions and lead to legal trouble if an applicant later claims that he or she was passed over for a job due to discrimination. So, how do you maximize the effectiveness of an interview and minimize potential biases?
Dr. Greg Willard, a Harvard University professor and a senior vice president at Cangrade, reviewed nearly 100 years of job-interviewing techniques and identified the following seven steps that can help managers conduct effective interviews:
1. Conduct a job analysis.
Consult with at least one subject matter expert before the interview to determine the most important aspects of the job and what is required to be successful in it.
2. Prepare questions in advance.
Create a list of specific questions to ask every candidate. This will help ensure that the information you gather during the interview is relevant and comprehensive and that candidates’ responses can be more easily compared.
3. Allow for some flexibility in the interview.
If a candidate doesn’t answer a question fully, don’t be afraid to ask follow-up questions.
4. Consider the length of the interview.
Cangrade recommends following a “general rule of thumb” when it comes to the number of questions to ask—four to six questions for a 30-minute interview and eight to 12 questions for a one-hour interview.
5. Remain focused on the interview.
The research suggests that an interview’s reliability is reduced when candidates are encouraged to ask questions during an interview. Instead, give each candidate time at the end of the interview to ask questions.
6. Use more than one interviewer.
This helps increase the reliability of the interview. When different individuals conduct separate interviews, they can collaborate on which candidate is the strongest.
7. Take detailed notes.
Not only does this create a professional atmosphere, it makes the candidate feel respected, listened to and encouraged. In addition, it provides documentation of the reasons behind your ultimate hiring decision.