4 Steps to Take Before Interviewing Someone for Your Team

Monique Mahler | November 6, 2020

81% of applicants who had a positive experience will share it with their direct network.

We all know what it feels like to rock an interview. And on the flip side, we know what it feels like to bomb one. As an interviewer, you want to set your candidates up for success, because, at the end of the day, their success is your success.

Prepping for an interview goes beyond just reading through a candidate’s LinkedIn profile – 65% of candidates have lost interest in a job due to a bad interview experience. Preparing for the conversation elevates the candidate experience so you can snag top talent and ensure you’re finding the right fit for your team.

There are several steps you should take as a member of the hiring team to prepare for an interview, especially a live one:

Step #1: do your homework

In a live interview, it’s important to have a good feel for your candidate before you sit down to talk. If you’re using a more robust process like the one we recommend, watch their on demand interview to ground yourself in what the candidate has already shared.

Once you’re in the live interview, make sure that you avoid asking for information they’ve already provided either in the one way interview or on their resume. Before you start the live interview, read their resume and be familiar with their skills and history. Take notes on anything from their past experience or interview(s) that you want to explore in-depth with them.

For example, consider things like:

  • What, if anything, from their resume is unclear?
  • Do you need to ask for work samples specific to one of their previous roles?
  • Is there something that they said in the one way interview that you want to understand better?

The goal of your interviews should be to peel back the layers and dig deeper, not just recap the facts provided. Doing your homework will not only give you the opportunity to fill in the gaps where needed but will also give you both a better sense of their fit for your team.

Step #2: remember, your vibe attracts your tribe

Candidate experience is the key to a successful hiring process and locking down great talent, so make sure you create a positive one. An applicant’s interview experience with your company creates an often long-term memory, so a negative perception could backfire in very bad (and potentially public) ways.

Often, companies underestimate the scope of what the candidate experience entails. It’s truly the sum of all points of contact, from when a job description is reviewed by a potential candidate through the “close out” with an applicant (or beyond).

Key ingredients to a successful candidate experience include:

  • Starting with a detailed and clear job summary
  • An easy, intuitive application process
  • Timely and clear communication
  • Simple to use interview technology

All of these components help to sell your company as you qualify your candidate further to see if their vibe will fit your tribe. Even if the candidate isn’t a perfect fit, 81% of applicants who had a positive experience will share it with their direct network, allowing you to keep your talent pipeline flowing with great referrals.

Step #3: improve your question game

Generic questions like, “what is your greatest strength?” are not going to give you the opportunity to really get to know your candidate, which is extra critical at the moment, when most roles are slated to work from home for the foreseeable future.

The interview questions that you’re asking must evolve to fit the business landscape that we’re working in today. Behavioral questions, alongside logistics and skill-based questions, will provide insight into a candidate’s cultural fit and what they expect from their employers.

Here are a few examples of interview questions you should be asking right now:

  • Do you have remote work experience? If so, how did you prepare yourself and your environment for WFH?
  • How do you structure your remote work day?
  • How do you prioritize multiple projects with a fully remote team?
  • What ideas do you have on how teams can collaborate when working remotely?
  • How have you handled conflict with co-workers when you can’t talk face-to-face?

Also, don’t forget to prepare for their questions – after all, the right candidate will be interviewing you as well. Even though candidates have seen a written job description, 70% of candidates still find it most useful to discuss role responsibilities during an interview. While we continue to grapple with the pandemic, expect questions around the impact that COVID-19 has had on business, how the company has supported employees, and what any plans for the future looks like.

Step #4: listen

Candidates today are evaluating you and your company just as much as you’re evaluating them. Provide them with a comfortable environment where your open-ended questions are well-received and they feel encouraged to share more, so you can facilitate genuine conversation.

Strategic silence allows you to gather insight into your candidate’s personality, so you can develop a complete picture of who they are. Overall, the better your listening skills are, the more effectively you can lead an interview while leaving a great impression on the candidate.

Great candidates expect a great experience

Preparing yourself to conduct an interview can be time consuming, but it’s always worth it. After all, the cost of a bad hire is no laughing matter and all hiring pros share the same end game – to attract the best candidates out there.

As an interviewer, you’re on the frontlines when it comes to reaching that goal. Intentional preparation and planning is one of the best ways to differentiate your company from the competition and win over job seekers.

That said, don’t be too hard on yourself – everyone starts somewhere. There’s always room for growth; learn from each experience and use that knowledge to develop an even stronger interviewing strategy going forward. As Alexander Graham Bell one said, “before anything else, preparation is the key to success.”

Try setting up your very own guide with our interview builder solutionclick here to set up a free demo right now!

About The Author

Monique Mahler is the CEO of interviewstream. She is an avid researcher of facts, a self proclaimed marketing geek, and an equestrian in her spare time.


interviewstream is dedicated to the success of more than 900 clients from K-12 school districts, emerging businesses, midsize companies, large enterprises, colleges, and universities.

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