How to be a killer interviewer

People waiting for an interview
Kirsty MacKenzie iMultiply By Kirsty Mackenzie, CEO of iMultiply

21 July 2017

There are countless blogs and articles available that tell us what we need to do to perform well at a job interview, but what about when the shoe is on the other foot? Find out how to be a top interviewer, from Kirsty Mackenzie, CEO of iMultiply.

First things first, make sure you have the following covered:

  • You know the ins and outs of what the job entails
  • You know what you’re really trying to assess from the interview – what behaviours and competencies do you want to see in this person?
  • You are clear about the interview process and format
  • You are aware of unconscious bias and how to reduce this
  • You are aware of questions which may be seen as discriminatory
  • You have a pen and paper to take notes!

Here are our top tips on how to become a top notch interviewer:

1. Plan, make notes, then don't read them!

Read the individual’s entire CV and gain a good understanding of their background and experience.  You may even wish to check out their social media to see what you can find out about them!  A bit of familiarity will not only help you feel more confident but it may also lead to you asking questions which will encourage the interviewee to open up.

Although it's important to plan what you want to ask, an experienced interviewer is likely to take what looks like a more relaxed approach, rather than reading question after question.  Off-the-cuff questions often result in the best answers – but the opportunity only arises from engaged listening. 

2. Be confident

Inexperienced interviewers can be just as nervous as the interviewee.  However the interviewer should come across as confident and this will help the candidate relax! 

If you’re inexperienced or feeling nervous recognise it is normal to feel this way! Remember that you’re prepared and you’re on the better side of the fence as you’re the one asking the questions. Whilst offering the candidate a drink, get yourself one so if you do need additional time to think then breathe and take a sip! 

3. Ask behavioural questions

Behavioural interview questions will be more pointed, more probing and more specific than traditional interview questions.  These questions focus on examples of past behaviours e.g. “Describe a decision you made that was unpopular and how you handled implementing it.”  The logic behind this is that how you behaved in the past will predict how you will behave in the future.

4. What are your “killer questions”?

You may want to ask some tough open questions, set a challenge or ask something a bit off the wall. Don’t do this for the sake of it but think about what you want to achieve. These types of questions can assess how people problem solve, think under pressure and give you an idea of what their attitude is.  Examples we’ve experienced include:

  • What do you think someone would need to succeed in this position?
  • How have you elevated someone from mediocrity to greatness?
  • How many planes land at Edinburgh airport each day?
  • Tell me a quote you live by?
  • Name five uses of a stapler without staples.
  • How would you cure world hunger?

5. Be an active listener

Listening may sound simple but listening the right way is a skill! Practised interviewers not only listen to the words but also the tone in which the words are said and the pauses used.  Active listening will help you know when to move onto a new subject and when the moment is right to dig a bit deeper!

6. Dig deep

Don’t be afraid to dig deeper with one or more follow up questions.  This may be feel awkward at times if you feel that the individual is reluctant to give more information but you can then acknowledge this by acknowledging this then probing a bit further to gain a better understanding e.g. “I sense you don’t want to go into more detail about that, can I ask why?”

7. Activate the power of the pause

The power of the pause is a great technique to use at the end of an answer to draw out more information.  This is particularly helpful if you feel the individual is holding something back on a particular topic. Silence also works well as a power play in a tougher scenario such as salary negotiation.  Fight your natural tendency to fill the silence! If you can, try counting to 5 in your head after hearing the answer to a tough or thoughtful question!

8. Sell verses de-sell

Whilst it’s important to give a good impression of the organisation you work for, there is a balance to be struck between selling the opportunity and de-selling it!  If you oversell the role it may not meet the expectations of the person starting and they may leave quickly! Undersell it and they may not be interested! The key is to sell the organisation and the opportunity but make sure you highlight the challenges and downsides of the role and ask the interviewee how they feel about them.

Developing your interviewing skills will allow you to effectively identify and hire the right talent for your business. Interviewing is a free PR opportunity as you’re representing your business’s brand, so be courteous and feedback to candidates after the interview.  

If you run a business it may be worth considering what support you can provide to your management team to allow them to be effective interviewers. 

Get in touch with iMultiply today and find how their specialist knowledge in Finance and Executive search can help your business.

About us 

Kirsty Mackenzie, founder of finance and executive search recruitment practice iMultiply, which works with entrepreneurial or growing SMEs and not-for-profit organisations. After graduating from the University of Edinburgh’s business school in 2006 Kirsty spotted a gap in the market for a new type of recruitment agency and hasn't looked back since.

As a market leading recruitment business with an in-depth knowledge of our specialist sectors, we work in strategic partnership with candidates and employers to deliver common goals with tenacity and integrity. Our areas of expertise are Finance and Executive Search and our knowledge in these areas is helping to make us one of the country’s fastest growing specialist recruitment businesses.

We are positively disrupting the marketplace by doing things differently such as remunerating our consultants with commission, only if they have achieved exemplary customer feedback.

This blog is one of a series of articles from our commercial partners.
The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of ICAS.


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