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4 Tips for Conducting Your First Interview

By Maurie Backman - Dec 19, 2017 at 8:19AM

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Running an interview for the first time can be just as nerve-wracking as being an actual candidate. Here's how to master the process.

It's natural for job candidates to be nervous going into the interview process. But if it's your first time conducting an interview, you might experience your fair share of jitters as well. The truth is that while leading an interview isn't rocket science, there are things you can do to make it run smoothly for everyone involved. If you feel like you're going in blind, here are a few steps you can take to prepare.

1. Know the job inside and out

As an interviewer, it's not just your job to vet candidates, but also make sure you're providing the information they need to make informed decisions about the role that's up for grabs. Before you kick off the interview process, make sure you really understand what the job in question entails. How will the person who gets hired end up spending his or her days? What expectations will there be for the role? And what sort of growth opportunities will the position allow for? These are the sort of details you'll want to hammer out before you sit down and meet with candidates.

Male and female professional shaking hands across a table


2. Study each candidate's resume beforehand

You probably went through your share of resumes before landing on the right people to interview. But how much do you really remember about each individual candidate's specific experience? Before you meet with each person you've called in, review his or her resume thoroughly, and pay attention to the parts you want to discuss face to face. You might even take the old school approach by printing each resume and highlighting the sections you want to bring up.

Along these lines, figure out what precise information you want clarity on before kicking off your interviews, and jot down notes so that you remember to follow up accordingly. For example, if you're iffy about someone's project management ability based on how that candidate's resume reads, ask about a specific task he or she led and its outcome.

3. Have a list of key questions ready

Just as you should expect your prospective hires to come in for their interviews prepared, so too should you, as the interviewer, be ready with a list of essential questions you want to cover. Those might run the gamut from general job skill inquiries to specifics about a particular software or task. If you're not quite sure where to begin, you can consult this list of essential interview questions, and tweak it to meet your needs.

4. Do a trial run

Whether you're nervous about running an upcoming interview or want to polish your technique, it often pays to conduct a trial run before you find yourself sitting down with actual candidates. Enlist the help of a colleague or friend, and go through the motions to get a sense of which areas, if any, need improvement on your part.

For example, if you find that you're being way too formal, you can work on relaxing and adjusting your tone and line of questioning. Or, if you find that you're struggling to answer key questions about the role you're looking to fill, you'll have an opportunity to perfect your responses. Doing a trial run might also help you go into the live process with more confidence, so that's reason enough to carve out some time to practice.

If you're new to the world of conducting interviews, rest assured that as with any skill or task, you're apt to get better at it over time. Until then, make a point of going in prepared so that you and your candidates have the best possible experience.

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