Interviewer Etiquette 101 for Managers

We spend a lot of time thinking about what an interviewee should and shouldn’t do.  Research the company from top to bottom, dress professionally, have a firm handshake, silence your cell phone, don’t fidget, smile, be original, be comfortable, be confident.  This list can and does fill thousands of webpages, books, and well-meaning family and peer advice.

In the midst of all the pressure on the candidate, it is easy to forget that the interviewers also have a job to do: as the candidate is selling themselves the interviewer needs to sell the position and the company.  Most of us have had bad interviewers: the ones who check their phone or their watch, read your resume for the first time in front of you, or get lettuce stuck in their teeth as they eat their lunch while you talk.  It’s hard to leave an interview like that feeling like you want to take the position if it was offered to you.

Below are a few standard tips for interviewer etiquette.

Before the Interview:

Review the candidate’s resume in advance: You’ve probably been in an interview where the hiring manager pulls out your resume and starts reading it, seemingly for the first time.  The candidate is expected to come in knowing a little about you – you need to extend that courtesy and know a little about them.

Familiarize yourself with the interview questions: If you use a standard interview guide, make sure you’re not reading the questions for the first time during the interview.  You may also want to come with a few questions ahead of time that are specific to the candidate’s experience and skills, or just edit questions to suit your style.

Identify any of the candidate’s initial strengths or weaknesses: While many attributes won’t be clear until you meet the candidate in person, if you have initial reservations make sure you prepare a question for the candidate to address your concerns.  If you are excited about the candidate for a specific reason, follow-up to make sure your expectations match their experience.

Discuss the interview plan with any co-interviewers: If you’re not on the same page with your partner the experience can be confusing for the candidate and frustrating for you. Set aside a few minutes before the interview to discuss first impressions of the candidate from their resume, how you will divide questions, and any other relevant information.

Clean up the interview space/office:  Hopefully this goes without saying, but no candidate is going to work too hard for a job after seeing a filthy office space.


During the Interview:

Dress professionally:  You don’t have to wear a suit (unless that is the standard for your office), but you can expect that the candidate will come in looking their best.  Dress to fit your office culture, but be mindful that this is a professional meeting.

Silence your cell phone/put away any unnecessary electronics:  Candidates should do it, so should you.  This goes to the next point …

Pay Attention: You are not going to find the right person for the job if you don’t even remember what they said.  This is a potential colleague in front of you, tune in.

Don’t Interrupt:  For some people it’s tempting to fill interview time talking about their own experience instead of letting the candidate speak.  Make it a discussion, but remember that the candidate should get the most air time.

Share your company culture:  By sharing your values and culture both you and the candidate will have a better idea if the candidate will make a good fit.  Better yet, ask a specific question relating to one of your company’s core values.

Leave time for candidate questions:  A candidate who is truly interested will come with questions of their own.  Some of these may be answered during the course of the interview, but be sure to leave at least 5 minutes at the end for any other questions.

Interviews are a major part of the hiring process and how they are conducted makes a huge impact on the candidate experience.   However you plan and execute your interviews, remember to extend the same courtesy to your applicants as you would expect from them.  Concisely put: be prepared, be polite, and be communicative.

What interviewer etiquette tips would you add?

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