I read a great deal about tips for interview success. If you want the job, you must excel in the interview. Proper body language, doing your homework on the company, asking good questions . . . and these are all great tips.

But I don’t often see advice for the interviewer.

I interview countless people in my line of work, and I’m constantly trying to improve my skills. If you’re looking to add the next star to your team, you want to be certain you’re creating an environment where they can shine.

I focus on these five factors to help me be my best as an interviewer:

  1. Be Professional

I expect the interviewee to be on time, to bring along an extra copy of their resume, to have good questions to ask. In turn, I reciprocate – always arrive for the meeting on time, remove any distractions (monitor off, cell phone put away, phone silenced, door closed). I want them to see the high standards that my company holds, and that starts with me.

  1. Be Human

Interviews are stressful; most people don’t get the chance to practice often (and if they do, well, that’s another story!). I like to start with small talk, and to be graceful. I offer a glass of water and interact on a human level. Remember that the start of the interview is the “dating” phase. You will have time during the interview to get to the gritty details. I treat an interviewee as I would any guest in our business, because that’s exactly what they are when they are sitting across from me.

  1. First Impressions Count, but Keep an Open Mind

Many of the interviewees I meet do not initially “wow” me. They may be trying too hard to present themselves professionally, or get stuck on an answer, or we just don’t click. I will continue to try and find common ground. Then I can develop a rapport, and only then can I get to know who they really are and what they have to offer. Think of everyone in your company – I guarantee you there are people who don’t make a “wow” first impression, but once they warm up, they earn your respect.

  1. Be Curious

After some get-to-know-you time, and basic questions, it’s time to jump into learning more about the person I am meeting with. I listen far more than I speak. Many interviewers have a standard list of questions they want answered. That’s not my style, but if it’s yours, just makes sure you allow yourself to wander off the path. If an interviewee is showing great enthusiasm for process improvement, I will stay on that discussion. I love to learn more about why it drives them, and when they first discovered the passion. We ultimately enjoy a terrific, engaging conversation. Every interviewee has a story behind their resume. It’s that story that will determine if they are a fit to your team. 

  1. Follow Up

I’ve invested my time in meeting the person; the interviewee has invested the same. I end with an explanation of the next steps in the process.  And I always, always follow up. If someone has taken the time to come out and meet with me, I owe them follow up. Preferably by phone, but if my interview volume is unusually high, at least via email.

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I coach interviewees never to burn bridges – as tempting as it may be, you never know when you’ll bump into that interviewer again. If you close on poor terms, you can be sure that it will get around. I don’t care where you live; it’s a small city / industry / pool of candidates out there.

The same holds true for the interviewer. Those who are interviewed without respect or professionalism will tell two friends, who will tell two friends, and so on, and so on . . . . Your company brand is at stake. You as an interviewer – your reputation is at stake.

Rather than your brand being associated with comments like “I didn’t even get a ‘no thanks’. I would never work for insert your company name here” . . . Wouldn’t you rather hear something like

“I didn’t get the job, but I love the way they treated me – anyone would be lucky to work there!”.

We learned it in first grade; treat others as you would like to be treated. Pretty simple stuff, but those words help me do my job better every single day.

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