How to Interview With Intention—and Snag Top Talent

Let’s face it—interviews and the hiring process can be a grind. The search is worth it when you find an engaging, curious and experienced candidate, but how do you get there?

Here are a few helpful recruitment tips that can help you simplify the hiring process and increase your chances of hiring top talent.

Use what you have for efficiency.

At GS&F, we sort through thousands of resumes each year. So before you have a candidate in the office, how do you sort through the resumes that hit your inbox? Think of the three pillars of each candidate’s profile:

  • Resumes should include quick career highlights
  • Cover letters should show critical thinking and writing ability alongside a story or two
  • LinkedIn profiles should expand on the details, offer a photo, include references, and show a little more personality than a resume

Though they function differently, these materials offer a complete picture of a candidate when taken together. Examine them with the job description and your company’s culture in mind as you make selections for the next step—in-person interviews. For us, this process typically yields about 10–15 candidates we think could do the job.

Dig into job experience.

Making your interviews impactful and efficient means getting past canned answers. Lots of candidates anticipate common interview questions and come prepared. They’ve considered their responses, and they’ve got a speech almost memorized. While this shows good initiative, it can also veil a lack of experience.

For example, you may invite a candidate to tell you about how they’ve managed a social media calendar in the past. You might be tempted to check the box for “social media experience” after they give their well-rehearsed answer, but take things a step further. Press in and seek out information that can tell you more. Ask for more examples. Prod to understand the candidate’s individual role within their teams and projects. Listen for additional information they willingly share that you didn’t ask for directly. Anyone can tell you they’re great at their job—but getting at what that really means involves dropping the veil of interview preparation and moving toward authentic conversation.

Gauge curiosity levels.

How do you measure a candidate’s passion for the job? It comes down to curiosity. Watch for how a candidates soaks up the information you share. A passionate job seeker gets specific when they ask questions, which may reveal their levels of expertise and interest. For example, instead of asking about your favorite part of working at your company, they may ask about the most meaningful or engaging project you’ve been involved in. They’ll also show curiosity about the team they’d be working with, their future boss, and what your company’s culture is like.

When you’re sensitive to your candidates’ curiosity levels, you’ll be able to tell if they’re passionate about landing the role with your company to do the work you need—or whether they just need a job. As the conversation develops, you’ll get a sense of what it would be like to work with them—and how they’d bring their passion for the job every day.

Listen for clues.

 Biased or leading interview questions may seem innocent enough. You’ll want to know how a candidate responds to prompts like: “Tell me about a time you had to earn trust.” But candidates will likely only supply the answers you want to hear, and often they’re not entirely authentic.

Even if you’re genuinely interested in the answer to one of these questions, don’t ask it directly. Instead, listen for clues among your candidates’ answers and comments. They may be giving you the answer you’re looking for without realizing it through other stories and examples they share.

Tailor the interview to the role.

When you tailor the interview process to the role you’re seeking to fill, you can create a more impactful environment for your interviews that yields better information.

For example, consider the environment the person who fills the role will work in once they are hired, and use that to decide how you will structure the interview. If an employee will most often work alone, start with a one-on-one conversation, bringing in a group later. If an employee will be collaborating constantly in a very social environment, interview with a group right off the bat. You can also consider qualifications-based testing at this stage—asking a candidate to complete an assignment specific to their expertise.

Consider, too, matching the feel of the role within your company with the interview environment. Talking to a creative? Meet them at a nearby museum café. Taking time to create a comfortable, interesting environment that ties to a candidate’s personality, interests, and role will stand out in a sea of expected conference rooms. However, be sure to offer all candidates applying for a particular role the same experience to eliminate bias in the interview process.

Find authenticity through conversation.

When your interviews are geared toward real, honest responses, you’re closer to identifying candidates who are likely to be successful in their roles. To foster authenticity, position the interview as a conversation. A relaxed environment will help your candidates open up, and you’ll be more likely to get a real experience of their personality and expertise.

Remember, candidates want an authentic experience of you and your company, too—so taking the veil off the typical interview process and seeking to have a conversation focused on getting to know each other is mutually beneficial.

Let’s make a great team.

At GS&F, the work we do for our clients doesn’t happen unless we’ve got a great team on our side. That’s why we keep these unique interview approaches in mind as we work continually to develop and evolve our processes for finding our next great teammate. Because when you’ve got great people, you get great work—and it can’t be ignored.

So take the next step toward building your own incredible team. At GS&F, we bring out the best in each other, and that starts with the interview. Use these quick interview tips the next time you bring in a candidate, and find the people that’ll bring out your best, too.

Want to hear more from GS&F’s HR team? Find additional tips here.

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