Most job interview tips focus on the interviewee, but what about the interviewer? One could argue that the stakes are even higher. If you’re on the other side of the table, you need to find a qualified candidate with appropriate experience, plus salary expectations that fall within a specified budget. And since in-demand jobseekers probably have other options, you also have the added responsibility of convincing your top pick that the job you’re offering is better than all the rest.
While you may not have absolute control over compensation, title and job duties, you can tip the scale in your favor by making a great impression on every applicant. Here are a few basic tips for anyone who’s ever uttered the words: “What’s your greatest strength and your greatest weakness?”
Look neat and presentable
This doesn’t mean you have to wear a suit, especially if your office falls on the casual end of the dress code spectrum. Rather, you should aim for the best, neatest version of how people are expected to dress on the job. If jeans and t-shirts are the norm, wear your newest jeans, iron your nicest t-shirt and consider throwing on a tailored jacket or blazer.
How you look sends a message to the interviewee. While a polished look says, “This interview is important, and I value your time,” frayed pant legs and a stained hoodie say, “I woke up like this,” (not in a good way) or “I totally forgot this meeting was on my calendar.”
Bring energy to the conversation
I once had an interviewer uncontrollably yawn throughout an entire interview. She could barely get through a sentence about the company and position without yawning and rubbing at her eyes. It was incredibly awkward and, I figured, telling of just how exciting it was to work for her.
During an interview, you’re the company’s ambassador and the interviewee’s reference point. If you seem excited and engaged, the candidate will assume that the job is exciting and engaging. If you can barely keep your eyes open and need to check your phone every five minutes just to maintain consciousness, the job will seem like an insufferable chore, and the candidate will likely move on to the next opportunity (like I did).
Have a game plan
When scheduling the interview, make sure it’s clear exactly how much time is allotted for the appointment, and stick to it. (This is a basic courtesy for candidates, many of whom are using lunch breaks or burning through “dentist appointment” excuses to leave the office for interviews.) From there, determine the appropriate format for the interview. For example, you may choose to use the first 10 minutes to give an overview of the company and position, the following 40 minutes for your questions, and the last 10 minutes to answer any of the candidate’s questions. A basic agenda like this can keep both the conversation and your overall schedule on track.
Just like how any candidate worth their salt will be ready with a carefully crafted answer to “Tell me a little about yourself,” you should be prepared to answer standard interviewee questions like “What’s the company’s culture like?” or “What’s your favorite part of your job?” Same goes for more pointed questions like “What are some of your marketing goals for 2016?” or “What’s the most challenging aspect of this role?” It’s impossible to anticipate every question, but try putting yourself in the candidate’s shoes and thinking about what they’d need to know before accepting a position at your company.
Sugarcoating a job in an interview may snag you a stellar employee, but it will come at a cost. Eventually, the employee will understand the reality of their position and resent you for the “bait and switch,” or they’ll simply find a new place to work. When a candidate asks about topics like growth potential and flex time, they want accurate information they can use to make the best decision for their career. While they may not like your answer, they’ll appreciate the transparency.
Jenessa Connor is a Brooklyn-based freelance writer and young adult author. If you don’t find her in front of her computer, check the local movie theaters and restaurants, Prospect Park or the gym at CrossFit 718.