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Have you ever been interviewed for a job before? The answer is probably yes. Conducting an effective interview boils down to knowing how job seekers prepare for it. Even if you’ve conducted thousands of interviews, there’s always room to make it a more comfortable process.

1. Know Exactly What You’re Looking For

If you don’t know exactly what you’re looking for, you may find yourself asking unnecessary questions while conducting a job interview. You can ask job-related questions all day long, but if you don’t know what skills the candidate needs to have to succeed, you haven’t prepared for the interview. Knowing what to look for will require asking current employees what skills, knowledge and abilities they use on a daily basis, then turning those answers into questions to ask your interviewee.

Experience and credentials are important, but keep in mind that being capable enough to perform a job well isn’t everything. Great employees do their job well, and they have the ability to solve at least one critical business need. Identify what you need, determine how you will measure their success, know what skills your top performers possess, determine what qualities will mesh well with your company culture and then find the person that fits.

2. Help a Candidate Come Prepared

That’s right. Candidates find job interviews stressful because of the unknown. When people are stressed, they don’t perform as well and they don’t answer questions as seamlessly as if they were in a regular environment. To combat this, tell candidates in advance the things you’d like to discuss so they can come prepared. Be willing to meet the person at a time that’s convenient for them, and tell them how many people to expect in the conference room. Your goal is to make them comfortable enough so that you have a productive conversation with accurate responses.

3. Homework is More Important Than the Interview

Many interviewers will glance at a resume just before the interview. Go back to tip number one; how will come prepared and know what to ask if you don’t do your homework? Always think ahead by looking over the resume and pretending you’re the candidate. You must read between the lines to get a sense of that individual’s interests, goals, successes, failures, strengths, weaknesses etc. Your goal is to know as much about the candidate as you can so you can come to the interview prepared with the proper questions and notes in hand.

4. Make the Interview a Conversation

A conversation is much more comfortable than an interrogation. Of course, you will need to ask questions to properly conduct an interview, but the key is to listen and then chime in at the end with additional details, more examples or different perspectives.

Although it’s hard to have a conversation with someone you don’t know, the more you know about the candidate ahead of time, the better. Knowing a little about them will allow you to ask thoughtful and meaningful questions that pertain to them. This can get candidates to open up and speak more freely because they realize you’re not just asking a list of generic questions.

5. Ask Follow Up Questions

Follow up questions should be asked spur of the moment after a candidate answers one of your prepared questions. This shows that you’re interested in what they have to say and that you’d like to know more. Ask why, when or how a situation turned out; or what made a success so rewarding to achieve; or what lesson was learned from a failure. The added details can tell you a lot about a person and how they handle situations.

6. Answer the Candidate’s Questions

Although you are interviewing the candidate, great candidates are also evaluating you. They’re evaluating your company, its culture, the environment and whether they want to work for you or not. Be sure to ask them if they have any questions for you, as most of the time they will. Give them time to think of them if they are nervous or didn’t come fully prepared. Answer thoughtfully and thoroughly. Be open and candid. Be honest and genuine. But never try too hard to sell the job. Trust that great candidates will recognize a great company to work for.

7. Provide Closure

Many companies will not follow up with a candidate if they didn’t get the job. But, failing to follow up, or ignoring calls or emails is incredibly rude. Interviewees paid you a compliment by saying they’d love to work for your company, and they gave you their valuable time. Not only is it rude, but they could take it out on your company by leaving bad reviews or talking negatively about you.

Following up should be a given for every person who applies for the job, regardless of whether or not they were seriously considered. Before you post a job opening, always decide how you will close the gap with every person you interview.

8. Check With Employees and Provided References

Candidates know they need to be on their best behavior with their interviewer, but how did they treat the rest of your employees? What candidates do while they’re waiting in your lobby can tell you a lot about them. Find out how they treated the receptionist or any other staff they may have been in contact with. Find out what they did while they waited. Sometimes it may be made apparent to you that a show was put on for you because they were trying to impress you. A mean person in your waiting room will probably be a mean person on the job.

In addition to checking with your employees, always check the candidate’s references.

9. Conduct A Second Interview

Even if you think you’re sure, you need to be positive. A candidate who is truly interested in the job won’t mind coming in for a second interview, and they may even expect it. It is often best to have another colleague involved in a second interview so you can get another opinion about the candidate’s suitability. An acceptable colleague would another manager or someone that would come into contact on a daily basis with the future employee.

Make sure you review all the notes from your first interview. You’ll also need to share these with any other interviewers and explain any findings, concerns or opinions. As the second interview will more than likely be the point at which you make your hiring decisions, you need to make sure you tie up loose ends. Check when the candidate would be able to start the job and take note of their requested salary.

At this stage it is more important than ever to make sure you follow through with the candidate. For example, if you said you would make a decision by the following week, then keep in contact with them. If the process is delayed for any reason, be sure to let them know. This will let them know that your company is detail oriented and professional.

Following these nine simple steps will ensure you really get the most out of your interview process.