Associate director of the human resources and transactional services divisions at Robert Walters Hong Kong.
How can I improve my interviewing skills as a manager?
I got promoted to my first management role four months ago, and in the last few weeks have started doing my first job interviews from the other side of the table. What I’ve been surprised to find is that I am almost as nervous in the role of interviewer as I am when I’m the interviewee! Even though I prepare by going through the interviewees’ CVs carefully and thinking up questions, I still struggle to think of things to ask and am always worried about saying something silly and making the company (and me) look bad. What can I do to improve my interviewing skills and temperament?
It is common for newly promoted managers to experience stress and anxiety during job interviews. The interview has always been at the heart of the recruitment process, but times have changed and the process is no longer one-way; it’s two-way, and offers the candidate a first impression of an organisation.
In a recent survey by Robert Walters, candidates indicated that the most important attribute they expect in an interviewer is “knowledge and understanding of their profession”. Just as a potential candidate has prepared for an interview, they expect the organisation’s representative to have done the same.
Before the interview, spend enough time getting to know your own company, department and role thoroughly – so that you have a requisite knowledge of the occupation, and present yourself as an expert in the field. This will ensure you start the interview off confidently.
Ask your HR department if they have any interview guidelines and training. Interview guidelines should be designed for consistency, to facilitate appropriate questions, and be in a manner that reflects company values.
For instance, you should ask clear concise questions in a conversational tone, as well as a range of open-ended questions to draw the candidate out and allow them to talk. Listen carefully to candidates’ answers to follow up with more specific questions afterwards.
You should also sell the company and its benefits. However, avoid snap judgements and never make an offer during the interview, nor overpromise or commit to something undeliverable.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to how long an interview should take, as it often depends on the role, employer and pool of potential candidates.
Do not underestimate the importance of interview feedback for both successful and unsuccessful candidates. For organisations looking to maintain a strong employer brand, this is an instrumental part of the recruitment process; it also helps you to improve in future interviews.
Ultimately, it’s important to manage the interview process carefully to protect the brand and image of an organisation, as the interview will affect how the candidate interacts with the company in the future.
This article appeared in the Classified Post print edition as How can I improve my interviewing skills as a manager?