How to Teach Interviewing Skills

Teach Interviewing Skills
Teach Interviewing Skills

Job interviews can be stressful for both the interviewer and the interviewee. Preparation on both accounts takes some of the edge off. While there are subtle differences in each person's interviewing style, there are some basic components that can be taught to get a new interviewer started. Here is a suggested plan for basic interviewing.

Be prepared. An interviewer must be prepared going into the interview. He should have received and read the applicant's cover letter and resume (or CV) as well as any prescreening notes from previous conversations or interviews with other staff. This eliminates duplicate questioning and saves both parties time.

Start by asking any questions related to the applicant's resume that have not been previously asked. This is not required and should only be done based on questions that have some merit in the hiring process.

Continue with a basic line of questioning. Develop three to five questions related to the job specifically (i.e., Are you familiar with spreadsheet creation and editing? Do you have any direct experience with program development?).

Close by giving the applicant an opportunity to self-promote. Asking a question like "How would your experience be an asset to our organization?" is a great way to prompt the discussion.

Give the applicant an opportunity to ask you questions about the position, the department or team or the organization. Applicants who don't ask questions are a red flag - asking questions signals interest.

Provide contact information for additional correspondence. If there are no further questions on either side, offer your card in case the applicant has further questions. Thank the interviewee for coming and advise him on the next steps in the hiring process (if appropriate).

Tips & Warnings

  • Be calm. Interviews can be extremely tense and stressful. Do what you can to make the applicant feel comfortable so he can put his best foot forward. Be flexible. Some of the applicant's responses will prompt questions that you didn't plan to ask. Follow the flow of discussion. You can always come back to questions you didn't get to ask in the sequence. Be friendly but professional. An interview is the opportunity for the applicant to impress you, not an opportunity for the two of you to become friends.
  • Take notes but make regular eye contact. Interviews are a great way to observe how an applicant interacts with people. Focusing too much on taking notes eliminates the possibilities for observation.

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