Whether you’re new to recruiting or recruiting on a brand new team, a steep learning curve sits between you and hiring badassery. With headcount targets to memorize and candidate pipelines to fill, you’ve got your work cut out for you. To begin making progress on all fronts, one crucial first step is to hone your interview skills. Conduct stronger interviews, and you can hire stronger candidates - more efficiently and confidently.
In this post, we’ve compiled 5 surefire interview strategies for all recruiters - particularly those entering a new role. We hope these tips provide useful guidance to help you start off strong. Enjoy reading!
1) Learn from your more experienced recruiting peers
This should come as no surprise - to begin with, we suggest digging your heels into the research phase. Rather than diving immediately into sourcing, interviews, and delivering offers, learn from your fellow recruiting team members. First off, set up time to gain insight into their sourcing routine. Which places do they count on to find top candidates for your team? How much time each day do they devote to sourcing?
Next, begin asking your team members when you can shadow their interviews. When you sit in, take notes on how your teammate introduces their own role and the interview structure to follow, along with which questions they pose and how they complement those of other team members. Also, jot down notes on how they talk about your company. As a new hire, you’ll want to commit your company mission, values, and culture to memory as quickly as possible.
2) Schedule a kickoff meeting with your hiring manager to understand candidate must-haves
As a recruiter, you get to work with a wide range of people - different interviewers, executives, and of course, candidates. Through it all, one factor will remain the same: you will always need to partner with a hiring manager (often your candidate’s future manager) in order to discover and hire the right, high-performing talent. While you should initiate all of these conversations with your hiring manager, the initial kickoff meeting is absolutely essential.
Use this meeting to fully gauge which qualifications your hiring manager will look for in candidates. Which skillsets are must-have, and which are nice-to-have? Also, make sure to learn what candidates will perform in the role, which will aid you in writing the impact description for your careers site. After the meeting, you should walk out knowing which large-scale projects the candidate will work on one month, six months, and one year into their role. Pro tip: to get quick, clear insight into your hiring manager’s expectations, look at 10 or more resumes together. Ask them about which experiences they value and which ones - if any - are potential red flags.
3) Start a running list of interview questions right away
As you shadow interviews, sync with your hiring manager, and even do supplemental online research, continue to jot down potential interview questions. Start by solidifying your phone interview questions, which you'll likely take the lead on asking.
Next, you’ll want to play an instrumental role in deciding the questions that your entire interview team will ask. We suggest scheduling a formal interview training to cover this, where you can establish different but complementary focus areas for each interviewer. In order to give candidates an optimal, engaging experience, everyone’s list of questions should vary. Pro tip: Schedule a meeting with your hiring manager to lay out their questions as well - they may know the role best, but that doesn’t mean they feel empowered to ask effective behavioral questions.
4) Meet with high performers on the team you’re hiring for
To form a more complete picture of which experiences and strengths you should seek out in candidates, schedule 1:1s with the high performers on the team you’re hiring for. Say, for example, that the first role you’re filling is a Product Marketing Manager (PMM). While certain aspects of the position are likely consistent across organizations, you can’t know the complete skill set of successful PMMs without sitting down with them.
Perhaps your online research says the role is dominated by sales enablement, but really, success at your new company comes with a greater focus on product launch communication. By setting up meetings with at least a couple high performing PMMs, you’ll find out what they focus on to deliver value. What does their day-to-day look like? How do they learn and get better at their craft? How do they budget their time? With the answers to questions like these, you’ll feel equipped to look for candidates that share their skills and experience.
5) Get to practicing, then ask for feedback
You’ve shadowed your fellow recruiters, so now you know which questions they ask candidates to learn about their career path thus far and their future professional goals. You also know what your ideal candidate looks like for this particular role, because you’ve asked your hiring manager and that team’s high performers to elucidate it. Now, time to gather all of your insights and put them to use! Time to start interviewing.
When you do dive in, ask your teammates to shadow you in return. Soliciting their feedback will be your surest route to improvement, so be sure to ask two or three teammates to weigh in on what they think went well, along with what you can improve.
By the way, your candidates can provide helpful feedback as well! If you ask them about their favorite parts of the interview process, for example, or what they wish they'd learned about the team, you’ll become even better equipped to improve your interview strategies.
We'd argue that great interviewers aren’t born, they're made. It takes lots of experience, constant research, and collaboration with your current team to effectively fine-tune your skills.