The dos and don’ts of conducting a first interview. Interviewing candidates is a crucial step in the hiring process. It is important to ask the right questions and go well-prepared to make the most out of it. If you are new to recruitment and haven’t conducted interviews, it is all the way more important to plan and prepare beforehand.

While you are first conducting an interview, create a checklist of all the essential aspects that you need to cover, things you have to focus on, and points to ponder. It will help you get desired results for evaluating the candidates along with simplifying the process.

Keeping the interview panel small will allow you to interact more effectively with the candidates and reduce their stress. Keep the number of interviewers no more than three to conduct a more focused interview.

Below are some tips on how to go about conducting your first interview!


Be clear about the role and job requirements:


This may seem like an obvious step but missing out on something essential in the job description can impact the interview screening.
Prepare the questions considering the requirements like what qualifications you are looking for in a candidate? What skills are sought-after for a position and what are the traits that could be deal-breaker?

Define the mandatory and additional requirements for a position so that you can prepare the questions accordingly. Whether you have experience conducting interviews or not, writing down the questions to be asked is a good practice.

Even if there is a set of questions already there for each role, you need to come up with your own questions to not lose direction during the conversation and for ensuring that all the aspects have been covered.

When conducting an interview for the first time, leave room for organic questions. your objective should be to assess the real personality of the candidates. Don’t hesitate to ask follow-up questions if something piques your interest during the interview.


Make the interview comfortable for the candidates:


The anxiety of the interview can cause even the most competent of candidates to feel nervous and not open up. Maintain eye contact and make the interviewees feel at ease. Don’t start the interview with hard questions, you can ask the traditional ones like tell me something about you that is not listed in your CV as the conversation starter.

Having a mix of question types will aid you with effective decision-making. Use a combination of open-ended, close-ended, hypothetical, and behavioural questions. Given a scenario, the candidates will be able to give better responses like the question was there a time you had to deal with a challenging supervisor or manager and how did you do it is better than how do you handle pressure or conflict.


Use pre-employment assessments:


Pre-employment assessment will not only help you with shortlisting the most suitable candidates but also with conducting result-oriented interviews. Evaluate the candidates based on their skill-set, cognitive abilities, and whether they fit in the personality for a role and can adjust to your company’s culture. This will take out the extra effort that you have to put in while digging out all this information during an interview.


Conduct a phone or video interview before inviting a candidate in person:


To further filter out the candidates, use phone screening or video calls for pre- evaluation before the in-person interviews. You can thus shortlist only a few candidates who are able to efficiently answer the questions about a role and verify the information they have shared on their CVs.

This will help you with conducting an interview for the first time as you will not have to do an initial assessment which usually takes a lot of time.


Don’t ask inappropriate questions:


The questions that imply that you are gender-biased, peeking into the personal life of a candidate, and have a discriminatory work culture should be avoided. Make sure to double-check the tone and words used in your questions and don’t include the ones that are related to religion, ethnicity, disability, or national origin.

If your company supports a diverse workforce, that stance should reflect in the interview process.


How to sell the job:


When explaining a vacancy, you have to stay relevant and credible as the candidate already has the job description. Tell about the details of what a role entails, what it is like working in your company, and the growth and career progression opportunities that you have to offer. Don’t make exaggerated claims about the benefits or work culture and don’t sound like you are bragging about your organisation.


Listen attentively and take notes:


The most valuable tip that you can make use of when first time conducting an interview is to listen more and talk less. Active listening is the key to conducting a successful interview. If you want to know what a candidate is capable of and can do for your organisation, listen carefully and don’t interrupt during the conversation. Take notes of the important points and ask follow-up questions from the information you gather.

Taking notes throughout the interview will enable you to keep a track of the whole conversation, and the negative and positive evaluations you made based on the responses. It will aid you in making calculated hiring decisions.

Conduct a mock interview keeping in view all the factors and see how it works for you, work on the areas that need improvement, for instance, paraphrase questions that are confusing or lack clarity, and stretch out or cut short the interview time.


Brief the candidate about what’s next and answer questions:


The systematic way to conduct the interview is to brief the candidates at the end about what will be the next step. You can give an indication to the potentially successful candidates that they will be hearing from you soon or if there is a possibility of a second interview.

Give the candidates time and chance to ask you questions and answer them in a satisfactory manner. Your demeanour should be professional and helpful when conducting your first interview.