11 traits of the best interviewer ever

Best InterviewerAs I read articles on the five traits employers look for in the ideal job candidate and others like it, I think about what traits the  ideal  interviewer would demonstrate in the hiring process.

Job candidates are responsible for showing they’re the most qualified person, but who’s to say interviewer/s shouldn’t be accountable for hiring the most qualified person for the job?

According to an article from CareerBuilder.com, a whopping 69% of employers say they’ve hired people who aren’t qualified to do the job or aren’t a fit. Furthermore, employers are losing humongous sums of money because of their poor hiring decisions, as much as $25,000-$50,000 per bad hire.

I don’t know about you, but this doesn’t bode well for employers’ hiring strategies and, more specifically, how they interview and choose their candidates.

Interviewing people for a position isn’t the easiest thing to do, nor is it the most pleasurable part of a job according to most hiring managers I’ve asked. I didn’t particularly like it myself, but it was a necessity. Who is the best interviewer ever? He or she has the following 11 traits:

  1. She’s prepared from the beginning. The success of an interview depends a great deal on whether the best interviewer ever has taken the time to prepare for the big event. This means identifying the skills and experience she seeks in the candidates, as well as recognizing the weaknesses she wants to avoid. She prepares answers in advanced and doesn’t rush around asking people in the office what interview questions she should ask five minutes prior to the interview.
  2. Doesn’t care that the candidates are nervous. Some jobseekers don’t interview well, but that doesn’t mean they can’t excel at the duties of the job. It’s a totally different matter if they’re not prepared for the interview or commit all of the faux pas described in the hundreds of published books and online articles. The best interviewer ever will overlook such poor first impressions.
  3. Puts the candidates at ease. Related to the previous trait, the best interviewer ever will try to bring out the best in the candidates by making them comfortable, trying to reduce the stress level. A great opening statement might be, “I’d like you to relax and consider this a conversation. I’m interested in getting to know you so I can make a good judgement about your skills and experience.” This certainly will bring out the best in the candidates.
  4. Asks the candidates relevant questions. These would include questions that were well thought out, not ones that the interviewer read from a book, or questions that were devised three years ago by Human Resources that meet the requirements for previous HMs. The best interviewer ever does her due diligence before the interviews begin by meeting with the HM to determine his needs and wants.
  5. Asks tough questions that get to the core of the candidates. Most employers would agree that besides the questions that determine someone’s technical abilities, behavioral-based are the best at predicting how the candidates will perform in the future, based on past behaviors and their motivation to overcome obstacles. Related to #2, the best interviewer ever knows these questions will stress candidates more than more traditional questions, so will be less concerned about performance.
  6. Interviews candidates for a job that exists. Oh sure, there’s a need for someone to fill a position in the company; but the company plans to go with an inside candidate and is holding the interview for appearance sake. This is a waste of time for everyone involved and a letdown for expectant candidates. This is plain wrong and may not be on the head of the best interviewer ever.
  7. Interviews candidates for the correct position. The best interviewer ever doesn’t interview candidates for a position that has different requirements than advertised in the job posting. Many of my customers have told me they prepared for the ideal job only to find out the requirements were beyond their reach, making them obviously unfit for the position. A big waste of time.
  8.  Doesn’t ask illegal questions. “How old are you?” one of my customers was asked during a phone interview. Other illegal questions include: what country are you from? Do you have any children? Are you taking medication? The best interviewer ever will refrain from asking questions about race, color, sex, religion, national origin, birthplace, age, disability, and marital/family status, etc. The best interviewer ever knows better.
  9. He doesn’t make a decision based on appearance. I once worked for someone who hired very young, attractive women; and the running joke was that he was a “dirty old man.” This makes one wonder if many qualified people were passed over because they didn’t meet his appearance standards. The best interviewer ever will disregard appearance and focus on technical and personality fit, ultimately hiring people who are right for the job, not better suited for modeling.
  10. She provides feedback if a rejected candidate asks. This is a tough one because a few candidates might cry foul or press the best interviewer ever for more details. However, many of my jobseekers simply want to know how they can do better at the next interview, nothing more. I applaud an interviewer who will provide critique on how a candidate answered certain questions, what skills they lacked, or if they wouldn’t be a personality fit for the company (there is such thing).

As mentioned earlier, making great hiring decisions is not as easy as people would think, ergo the 69% of hiring managers who make wrong hiring decisions at one point or more in their career. But if said interviewers consider their goal of hiring the best candidate, they must think not only of themselves but rather consider how best to get the necessary information from the people they’re considering hiring.

Oh, lastly, 11. He sends a rejection letter. A little bit of courtesy will go a long way.

Photo: xianrendujia, Flickr

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