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  • Writer's pictureBrenda Armstrong

Conversation Based, Data Driven Interview Process

We are constantly hearing about what candidates should and shouldn't do to get that job. But what about the other side of the desk? Being prepared when interviewing your candidates gives a great first impression (And yes, not being prepared leaves a less than favorable one!)

Great interviewers can be hard to come by. Still, you can practice your skills to become a talented interviewer who puts candidates at ease, elicits their best, and still obtain the information you're looking for.

Here are seven best practices for conducting a great interview. If followed, you'll create a more enjoyable dynamic for all parties, and you'll achieve what you set out to accomplish. It requires a bit of work on the front end, but you'll feel better than you thought you might about the process in the future.

1. Be Prepared. Have a clear purpose and stay on track. Ask yourself, who is on first? In other words, everyone should know their role in the interview process, and you should have objectives defined for what you want to achieve. This keeps the distractions down and allows everyone to find a rhythm in the conversation. Equally, prepare the candidate with a plan - this way, everyone knows what to expect and what is trying to be accomplished. (Pro Tip: make an agenda with prepared questions so you can make data driven decisions based off of the same information.)

2. Don't "conduct an interview"... have a conversation. Having "a comfortable conversation" with your candidate makes them feel at ease and respond more authentically. While you have goals of identifying their leadership or technical capabilities - it doesn't have to feel like a firing squad.

3. Be a good listener. Ever been part of a conversation where someone is, in essence - not present? It's the worst!! Listening is an active process, not a passive one. A person being genuinely listened to can both see and hear the results. When you respond verbally, give articulate responses to demonstrate you've listened to what they have to say. (We have two ears and one mouth for a reason!)

4. Ask open-ended questions. Ditch the traditional "Where do you see yourself in 5 years" or "Tell me about yourself" questions. Instead, asking how, why, and what questions will reveal what the interviewee thinks and feels about things. You want to know their capabilities and skills - so go deep with them. Ask questions that unravel their critical thinking skills, resourcefulness, and how they treat other people even when no one is watching. Ask Deductive and Inductive reasoning questions - how do they get granular. vs. how do they get strategic? Your role might need both.

5. EVEN if ZOOM Interviewing… Maintain eye contact and use effective body language. Are your arms crossed, worse, is your video off? Who would want to open up to a person like that? Post a smiley face next to your camera, and smile frequently. Stay engaged, and get involved emotionally. If you show yourself, you'll lead them to do the same. We spend a lot of time with the people we work with; don't we want to know their authentic selves?

6. If you are Doing a Technical Screen or White Boarding Session - don't put the candidate on the spot. Interviewees, especially technologists, anticipate that they'll be treated like a savant and expected to know everything— and often, they're right. Treat them with maximum empathy and respect if you want to hear what another person has to offer. Let them prepare to give a valuable response to your question. Yes, some things on the day-to-day have to be immediately resolved. Still, there is thorough planning, critical thinking, and a lot of "trying and failing" before you get to the best solution in most cases. You shouldn't expect them to solve the world's most challenging problem in a 30-minute whiteboard session when they didn't expect to design a plan to move mountains and also actually move them in 30 minutes. (Candidate FAQ - make a candidate questions document readily available to candidates in advance of an interview… Help them help themselves!)

7. Candidates are Interviewing YOU just as much as you are interviewing them. It's a two-way street, and the conversation must flow in both directions. Your interviewee judges whether they want to join your organization, reveal their most authentic self or come back for a return engagement. Your preparation and attention leave a remarkable impression - do your best to make it a great one.

ITEOM Digital Technology Talent Partners is a trusted source when it comes to finding great talent. We work with hiring managers to help them identify, interview, assess and onboard great talent. The interview process is hugely important in making sure your candidate has a great experience. Need help? Reach out at


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