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When conducting an interview, you'll want the job candidate to do most of the talking. In order to avoid one-word answers, ask more open-ended questions than close-ended ones. — Getty Images/pixelfit

A job interview is possibly your first face-to-face discussion with a candidate. Delivering an excellent first impression while also listening and retaining information is imperative. Although everyone approaches an interview differently, your success depends on a few critical steps, such as inspecting the applicant's submitted documentation and job post details.

During the interview, you will want to move through your questions at a reasonable pace and keep an open mind. Refer to your assessment form as needed and follow up for additional clarity. Here are the typical steps of a job interview.

Prepare for the job interview

Preparation is key to conducting a great job interview. If needed, go through local, state, and federal employment laws about what you can and can't say when interviewing job candidates. Create a list of hard and soft skills, experience, characteristics, and qualities your preferred candidate would have.

Also, take some time to look over the candidate's resume, application, and related materials. Consider using an evaluation form or scorecard during the interview and avoid writing on the applicant's resume or application.

[Read more: 3 Ways to Hire Wisely, Especially in a Tight Job Market]

Choose your interviewing method

Job interviews can be one-on-one or a team approach, structured or unstructured. In cases where you're unfamiliar with the roles or skill sets, bringing in a coworker with personal experience may work better. Structured employment interviews ask all applicants the same questions, whereas unstructured ones let candidates set the pace.

Develop a list of questions

You may want to use open- and close-ended job interview questions. Open-ended queries allow job candidates to provide details about their previous experience, their management style, or why they want to work for your company. In contrast, close-ended questions quantify specific information, such as years of experience leading a team or if they've ever worked from home. Since you want your interviewee to talk more than you, limit the number of yes-and-no questions you ask.

[Read more: 'Why Should We Hire You?': Best Job Interview Questions to Ask Candidates]

Job interviews can be one-on-one or a team approach, structured or unstructured.

Conduct the employment interview

After introductions and a firm handshake, an excellent way to start the interview is by mentioning an interest referenced on their resume, which can ease tensions. Next, recap the job position and what it involves. Let your applicant know that you'll take notes of (or record) the session and mention your interview goals.

At this point, your candidate may give their elevator pitch, describing why they're the best contender for the position. Remember, an interview is a two-way conversation and assessment. Job candidates are sizing you and your company to ensure they are a good fit. And you're doing the same.

Use these tips for questioning a job candidate during an interview:

  • Begin with easier questions and move into challenging ones.
  • Ask one question at a time and repeat it if needed.
  • Let the candidate mull it over; don't interrupt or prompt them.
  • Avoid personal questions that could be legally unacceptable.
  • Pay attention to your applicant's nonverbal cues, such as facial expressions.

Ask follow-up questions

Follow-up questions can clarify answers and invite personal reflection. They're also a sign of active listening and they show the applicant that you're paying attention. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) recommends avoiding questions starting with "why," as these can put the job candidate on the defensive. Instead, use "what," "how," "do you," or "are you." You might want to repeat their response and ask them to give examples or confirm you heard correctly.

[Read more: Avoiding a Hiring Mistake: How to Make Sure Your Next Hire Is Your Best Hire]

Close the job interview

As the interview nears the end, it's a good time to let the job candidate ask questions. Be prepared to comment on the employment conditions and position. Refrain from sugar-coating your responses. Job applicants can find out much about your company online through sites like Glassdoor and social media.

In addition, you may want to talk about the follow-up process, including when you'll make a decision and how you will contact them. Regardless of how the meeting went, end on a positive note and thank the applicant for their time.

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Published July 27, 2022