Whether it’s your first time conducting an interview, or you just want to improve your skills, you want to make sure to standardize your interview process, make more efficient decisions, and avoid unconscious bias in your decisions. Here are a few tips that can help you do just that.
Decide on questions ahead of time.
Before you sit down for an interview, make a list of questions you want to know about potential employees. These should be relevant to the job you’re hiring for, and should be clear, objective, and free of bias. Focus on questions about their skills (what’s your familiarity level with Adobe Photoshop?) or experiences (i.e., tell me about a time you dealt with a difficult customer). Avoid questions that make any mention of age, gender, or race. You may also want to ask for some advice from coworkers on which questions work, and which should be taken off the list.
Ask everyone the same questions.
This will further help you in avoiding bias – if you already have all questions planned out, you won’t stray into freestyling territory, which can allow prejudice into the conversation, even if you’re not conscious of it! Asking all interviewees the same questions can also assist you in making a more effective decision, as you can compare answers between each applicant after their interview.
Talk about yourself first.
Give some background on yourself, such as your role at the company, your experience working there, and a few personal details (if you’re comfortable providing those). This should focus on making your interviewee comfortable and building some rapport so that the conversation can flow more easily! Some light small talk before the interviewer can also be a great way to put them at ease.
Make sure you write down important points of your interview. Even if you have a fantastic memory, the interviews are sure to begin to blend together, and you might forget who said what. It’s also a good way to avoid bias; without notes, you’re more likely to hire based on personal feelings, rather than objective talent. It may also be useful to give scores based on each applicant’s answer to each question so that you can more easily compare them.
While you do want to keep good notes, there should be a balance – you still want to appear engaged with your interviewee, and make sure you’re listening to what they say. If you find yourself focusing too heavily on your notes, put your pen down and listen for a few minutes. It may also be helpful to record the interview, whether through audio or video means, so that you can watch it later. Just make sure you ask your interviewee if they’re comfortable with that first!
Some bias is unconscious and can come from an interviewer’s past experiences, upbringing, or societal stereotypes. This can lead to bias based on gender, age, or race, even if the interviewer isn’t conscious of it. If you think bias may affect your hiring, you may want to consider phone screenings or even blind interviews, so you can pick the most objectively qualified person for the job.
We hope you feel more prepared to conduct an interview – happy hiring!