Interview Best Practices

Last update on Feb, 17, 2021

When you plan to bring in a potential new employee for an interview, you expect the candidate to prepare ahead of time and arrive dressed and ready to answer and ask questions about your practice and the role for which they applied.

You, as the interviewer, also have a responsibility to ensure the whole thing goes smoothly. Having a formal process will improve the experience for both you and the interviewee and help you find the right fit. 

Prepare for the interview

Taking some steps prior to the actual interview will set you and the interviewee up for success.

First, rather than improvising the interview from the top, have some questions prepared. The conversation may stray from time to time but going in with a list of questions keeps you on the right track. To create the most effective questions, consider what attributes and experience you want the person in the role to possess. Similarly, think about qualities of your top performers or people who previously did well in the same role. Formulate open-ended questions based on these characteristics that allow the interviewee to respond with longer, more insightful answers.

Certain questions regarding a person’s race or ethnicity, marital salary, age, and other demographics are considered illegal and should be avoided. These include:

  • Are you a legal citizen of the United States?
  • What is your birthday?
  • Are you married?
  • When do you plan to start a family?
  • Do you have a disability?
  • Have you ever been arrested?

Doing research into the candidate will also help in putting questions together. Thoroughly review the person’s résumé and LinkedIn page to get an understanding of their education and career history. This also saves you time in asking those basic questions during the interview.

Finally, send the candidate the topics you plan to cover in your conversation to mitigate their nerves and help them adequately prepare. 

Tips for during the interview

You can also put the candidate at ease over the duration of your conversation. Trying to catch them off guard or intimidating them will only detract from the purpose of the interview; instead, make them feel comfortable for a more productive and professional discussion.

While talking with the interviewee, keep the interview conversational and listen carefully to their answers, asking follow-up questions as necessary. If you are interviewing multiple people, you may have trouble recalling specific details of each conversation. Take thorough notes throughout so you can easily remember information later. Don’t forget to leave some time at the end for the candidate to ask their own questions about the job or your practice.

Involve others within your practice and have a couple of other employees talk with applicants as well. They can get a feel for whether the individual would be a good fit and provide them with the employee perspective of your business. But keep in mind that bringing in too many people can over-complicate the decision-making process. 

What should you do after the interview?

Unless your gut tells you immediately that a candidate is not the right fit, don’t make a decision right after the interview. Give it time to process and discuss your thoughts with other employees; chances are your opinion will change somewhat after everything has sunk in.

If you can’t remember something covered in the interview (ideally your note taking will prevent this!) or need clarification, post the question in an email – as long as it isn’t too complex – or schedule a follow-up call.

Speaking of follow-up, regardless of whether you are offering the interviewee the job, reach out to every person you’ve interviewed to let them know you have chosen a candidate. It’s a courtesy that everyone will appreciate, and those who are not being offered the position can stop wasting time and continue their search elsewhere.

Special considerations for virtual interviews

As Zoom and similar programs become more common in the workplace, you may select to hold your interviews virtually. Here are some tips to ensure your virtual interview runs as smoothly as an in-person one.

Test out your tech

The last thing you want to do is spend precious interview time figuring out your video and audio capabilities. Check in advance that everything is working properly.

Limit distractions

At any given time during normal working hours, you may have several programs, windows, and tabs open on your computer. Close out of anything unnecessary and mute your phone to stay focused and optimize tech functionality. 

Consider your setting

Even if you’re conducting the interview from your home, you want the environment to feel professional. Choose a quiet room and confirm that the scene behind you is free of clutter.

Dress up

Wear what you would wear if the interview were in person. While virtual, the interview should still feel buttoned up. 

Stay engaged

Maintain eye contact with the candidate, using hand gestures and an active listening approach to keep your energy high.

When you have an open position at your practice, your goal is to find the best person for the job as efficiently as possible. Make the most effective use of your interview time with sufficient preparation and using the advice laid out above. 

Download our Interview Guide

Ready to get started? Download our Interview Guide here.

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