What Are Interviewer Skills? (With Examples and Tips)
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A job candidate's performance during an interview often contributes to the employer's ultimate hiring decision. As an interviewer, it may be your responsibility to pose insightful questions that allow you to learn more about the candidate's qualifications and predict if they can be a competent employee. Mastering skills that apply to interviewing can enable you to lead successful meetings with prospects and select the right professional for the role. In this article, we answer the question "What are interviewer skills?", provide examples of the competencies to use throughout the hiring process and list guidelines for improving, practising and highlighting them.
What are interviewer skills?
To answer the question "What are interviewer skills?", interviewer skills are abilities that a hiring manager uses to lead a productive conversation with a professional who applied for a job. When a candidate meets with the employer, the interviewer forms an impression about the candidate to determine if employing them aligns with the company's best interests. The more the hiring manager learns about the candidate during the interview, the more confident they can feel in choosing them or another prospect when it's time to extend a job offer.
Examples of interviewer skills
Here are examples of interviewer skills that you can exercise for your next appointment with a job candidate:
Interpersonal communication is a conversational skill that allows you to engage the prospective employee and encourage detailed responses to your interview questions. You can exude a friendly, positive demeanour that makes the candidate feel comfortable when you first meet. Consider referencing parts of their resume to show that you've studied their credentials and have prepared for the discussion. You can also welcome to the workplace by talking about the company and demonstrating that you're enthusiastic about fulfilling the role. A candidate who has a positive experience with the interviewer may feel more inclined to accept a job offer.
When the candidate responds to your interview questions, you can use active listening to hear and interpret what they're saying. The skill can allow you to pose additional questions based on the candidate's previous answer, helping the conversation flow smoothly. You can show the prospective employee that you're paying attention to the discussion by exhibiting nonverbal cues, such as nodding your head and maintaining eye contact. Your verbal cues, which can include paraphrasing their words, are also indications of active listening.
Another example of an interviewing skill is research, which you use to prepare for your appointment with the candidate. It can be important for you to know everything you can about the job you're recruiting for so you can identify a professional who can be an asset to the team. You can also learn more about the industry, including hiring trends that may influence the candidate's decision to accept the job offer. Professionals may be fielding offers from competing companies, so staying informed can help you prepare to convince candidates that the organisation you represent is the best employer.
Attention to detail
Attention to detail refers to the way you observe the candidate during the interview. Besides listening to their answers to your questions, you can also pay attention to their body language and speech patterns. Consider observing how long it takes for them to respond to enquiries that test their technical skills. The small details that you remember during the interview can help you distinguish them from other candidates you met with and make an informed hiring decision.
Mastering interpersonal communication and active listening can enable you to adapt to changing circumstances that may occur during the interview. You may prepare a list of questions to ask the job candidate, but the direction of the conversation may compel you to shift your line of questioning to evoke different answers. With adaptability, you can identify when a change is necessary and still accomplish your goals. You can also understand that every meeting you hold with candidates may be different, so you can tailor your interview style to get the information you need.
Being an objective interviewer means you can make judgments based on facts and not your personal feelings. The candidate may feel assured that they're undergoing a fair hiring process and the company is making an unbiased choice in who to select for the role. Emphasise objectivity when you're interviewing by using the job description and your preliminary research to evaluate the candidate. For example, suppose you're recruiting for a managerial position and are friends with someone who applied. You remain impartial to be fair to the other candidates and you recognise that your friendship has no influence over your choice.
How to improve interviewer skills
Here's a list of guidelines to keep in mind as you aim to strengthen your skills as an interviewer:
1. Perform a mock interview
Ask someone you know to pose as the job candidate and practise asking questions that you created in advance while posing other questions that relate to their responses. Request feedback from the interviewee about your professionalism and your explanation of the role and its expectations throughout the meeting. Apply the feedback to future interviews so you can continue to practise your skills.
2. Collect background information about the candidate
Pay close attention to the candidate's cover letter and resume to make sure you feel prepared to hold a lengthy conversation with them. For example, you can research the schools they attended and gain clarity about their former employers to understand how experienced they are in their industry. It can also be helpful to call the references they provided to verify their employment.
3. Diversify your line of questioning
When you meet with the candidate, make sure you ask a combination of basic and situational questions to elicit answers that offer insight into their personality, professional values and credentials for the job. For instance, you can ask them to tell you about themselves at the beginning of the meeting or tell them to recall a time they overcame a work challenge. You can also pose a fictional workplace scenario to learn how they can respond. Aim to pose different types of questions to keep the conversation dynamic.
4. Evaluate your performance after each interview
If you're conducting multiple interviews for the same position, spend some time evaluating how the conversation went to see if your interviewing skills have improved. You can review the thoroughness of your notes, recall the information you obtained about the candidate and consult the questions you ask to help you decide if you can make an informed hiring decision. Using your self-awareness to improve your skills can also help you enhance your objectivity as a professional interviewer.
Interviewer skills in the workplace
Here are tips to use when exemplifying your interviewing skills in a professional environment:
Learn about the company's expectations for the role. Your research process as an interviewer may include consulting with the immediate supervisor of the position that you're meeting with candidates to fill. Ask the supervisor about the company's goals and expectations for the employee so you can prepare questions that assess the candidate's readiness.
Prepare to answer the candidate's questions. While your goal may be for the candidate to deliver informed responses to your interview questions, they may ask you questions to learn more about the company and their desired role. Exemplify your interpersonal communication and active listening skills by being thorough in your response and showing that you understand what the candidate is asking.
Identify necessary questions. You can remain adaptable as the conversation during an interview shifts, causing you to deviate from the line of questioning that you prepared in advance. Identify questions that are urgent for you to ask to ensure that you observe the candidate well enough to make a hiring decision later.
How to highlight interviewer skills
Below are instances when it can be beneficial to showcase your interviewing skills during your job search:
Interviewer skills for a resume and cover letter
On your resume, compile a list of relevant skills that you use during an interview. Your cover letter can discuss examples of you using these skills in the workplace. Make sure the content of your resume and cover letter align with the employer's expectations on the job description.
Interviewer skills for a job interview
The hiring manager may pose questions that require you to demonstrate your skill set. Show you're proficient in interpersonal communication and active listening by engaging in the conversation and mentioning details that the employer noted in your answers. You can also show you're detail-oriented by being specific when discussing your previous experience and adaptable by responding promptly to questions you weren't expecting.
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