Prepping for Job Interviews – It’s Not Just for Candidates! What Employers Need to Know

Job seekers spend a lot of time preparing for interviews. Unfortunately, those on the other side of the desk often forget to take this key step.

From an HR and business perspective, an investment in preparation before the interview can have a huge ROI. Not only will it save you time in the long run, it’s critical to the success of your talent search.

What (or who) are you looking for?

When a vacancy is created, too many companies blindly set out to find an exact replica of the person whose shoes they are trying to fill.

Sheila did this and this and this. We need to find someone just like her.

Bob was a real go-getter. We’d better look for someone just like him.

But does this even make sense? A better way to approach this is to ask some important questions about the role that needs to be filled and how it might be improved to help with company goals, internal processes, recruitment and retention.

What does Sheila’s position look like currently? Does this seem like the best set of tasks moving forward? Is there potential to make this position more efficient? More appealing? More career focused?

What expectations do we have for this position? Do these metrics still seem appropriate? Was Bob’s outgoing nature suited to the role he was performing? Or could it have contributed to his departure?

Finding the right person for a position requires being clear about what the position is.

What do you actually need this person to do? Is a part-time or full-time gig? Is there potential for career development in this role? Where does this job fit within the big picture company vision? How will this role contribute to the success of the company— and the individual who takes it on?

Just because you’ve been doing something one way for a long time doesn’t mean you need to continue along the same track. Think of your open positions not just as opportunities for employment, but as opportunities for your business to refresh, streamline, and innovate. Evaluate the job description as it stands and create the position it needs to be moving forward. Then, define the skills and attributes you’re looking for in an ideal candidate.

Questions to ask during this process:

  • How will we know if this role/person is successful? What metrics will we use?
  • What do we expect from this person in the first 3 months? 6 months? The first year?
  • What training and support will we provide and who will be responsible for making it happen?
  • How will we adjust if things aren’t working?

Business improvements don’t have to come in the form of complete overhauls and reorganizations. You can improve your overall efforts one thing at a time, starting with your current job listings. 

Once you’ve decided what direction you need to go in and who you are looking for, you can start developing your hiring criteria and interview questions.

What should you ask?

Establishing guidelines and consistency in your hiring process is important. Having a standard formula for recruitment will keep everyone on track and on the same page.

The same is true when it comes to interview questions. Asking random questions will get you random data. Using a consistent set of interview questions will help you effectively compare candidates.

And again, there’s no reason you need to ask the same questions you used to fill the position last time. In fact, you may benefit from trying something new.

Behavioral Interviewing

If you want to find star employees, you may want to try using a STAR approach.

The STAR approach is an interview technique that taps into the behavioral traits of your candidates by asking them to describe specific situations rather than answer general questions about skills and experience.

By asking STAR interview questions, you’re giving candidates the opportunity to tell you how they have performed in the past, and if past performance is an indicator of future performance, then asking STAR questions can garner some pretty great information.

The components of STAR interview questions are as follows:

  • Situation – What was the context?
  • Tasks – What was your responsibility?
  • Actions – How did you perform/act/react?
  • Results – What were the outcomes?

Examples of these kinds of questions include:

  • Tell me about a time when you had to work effectively under pressure. What was the result?
  • Give an example of a time you overcame a challenge with a coworker. What did you learn?
  • Have you ever made a mistake at work? How did you handle that?
  • What is one goal you’ve achieved that you’re most proud of? How did you achieve it?

Once you’ve decided on a complete set of questions to ask each of your applicants, you’re ready to move on.

Preparation is key

Hooray! You’re almost there! You’ve got your shiny new job description and your interview questions down pat. But this is not the time to cut loose and start winging it. To make the most of your recruitment effort, the rest of your processes should also be well thought out, consistent, and clear.

Before you post your position, answer the following questions to provide additional structure to your talent search and timeline.

  • What will the application process look like?
  • How long will it take?
  • Who will be involved?
  • How many interviews?
  • What days will they occur?
  • What questions will you ask?
  • How will the decision be made?
  • Where will you post positions or look for applicants?
  • Who/When/What/How will you communicate with candidates?

Once you’ve got your full plan laid out in front of you, communicate it to everyone involved and clarify any remaining questions that may be hanging out there. Once everyone is on board and ready to go, you’re free to take your plan and run with it.

Ready, set, search!


Photo by Валерий Качаев