9 Interview Tips Leaders Use For Picking Winners

Interview Process

Are you a pretty smart manager? I bet that you probably are!

But, when hiring new employees for your team, are you being smart in the interview process? Do you REALLY know how to conduct an interview so that you pick a winner every time?

Test Your Smarts

Test your interview smarts by answering these questions: Yes or No:

  1. When interviewing candidates I usually talk 50-75% of the time. Yes or No?
  2. I am very supportive, engaging and encouraging to candidates when interviewing them. I make sure they feel good about their answers. Yes or No?
  3. I never push the candidate for clarification if they give vague answers, I don’t want to be too tough. Yes or No?

If you answered Yes to any of these questions your current interview process could be  keeping you from picking winners every time.

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Smarty Pants

Smart managers are often times very smart. They typically have strong product knowledge or have been successful in lower positions where they work. You  know the company and you work well with others. You ARE smart. That is why you were promoted to leadership.

But some very smart managers fall short in an extremely important part of their jobs; in the interview process. This is typically due to poor training. Or because of busy schedules and fast thinking, they tend to:


9 Interview Tips

Here are nine important interview tips.

These are things you should do every time you interview. They ARE basic in nature, but they WILL increase your ability to pick a winner every time.

1.  Start and end on time
2.  Clarify & explain the overall interview process
3.  Do not allow outside interruptions
4.  Encourage candidate to talk: Candidate should talk: 75-80% of the time!
5.  Maintain eye contact
6.  Use the candidate’s name
7.  Allow silence
8.  Be pleasant, but response-neutral
9. Listen aggressively


Set It Up Right

Running to MeetingsInterview tips 1-3 above are basic and are often missed because smart managers are very busy and in demand. If you want to hire right, you must make interviewing potential team members a priority.

When interviewing – do not sandwich the interview into an already overbooked calendar. Find a way to clear time before the interview so that you can prepare and plan your interview questions. Also schedule some time after the interview so you can summarize your findings and plan the next steps.

During the interview you must eliminate ALL interruptions — your phone, cell, email and your door.

Hiring Wrong is Expensive

To motivate yourself to take more time for interviewing – keep in mind that turnover costs are conservatively estimated at approximately 1-1/2 times a person’s salary. For example, the time spent interviewing to fill a technical position that pays $70,000 is really a $105,000+ project.

Say It Out Loud 10 Times…

Take a look at how to conduct an interview tip #4. Circle it, highlight it, and repeat it ten times out loud.

The candidate should do most of the talking.

In ineffective interviews the interviewer talks 50-80% of the time which is the exact opposite of what you need to be doing. Talking too much usually stems from:

  • a lack of preparation
  • from moving fast from meeting to meeting
  • a lack of awareness
  • nervousness

In a one hour interview the candidate would talk 50 minutes, you would talk 10 minutes. Changing this one error – will dramatically change your interviewing success.

You’re Not Talking, But You ARE Busy

And while the candidate is answering your interview questions, providing specific examples to your competency, behavioral-based questions, you are very busy. Even though you are not talking you are not passively sitting there.

You are focused on tuning into the candidate by making eye contact, letting the silences stand as needed, remaining response-neutral and listening aggressively.

Tips 5 through 9 ensure that you are focused on the interview, and on what the candidate is saying, and not thinking about the 25,000 other things you have on your mind.


You want to allow silence to give the candidate time to think.

If you rush through  silence you may miss a great answer or you may miss great insight into the fact that the candidate cannot think of any examples. No or poor examples this tells you that he or she may not have strength in that area.

Let the silence stand – do not rush through it.

Don’t “Hug” Them

What about tip #8: “Be pleasant, but response-neutral” – do you know what that looks like?

Let me show you. Try this with me:

Take a moment now and think of your child or if you don’t have kids, think of your best friend or a favorite pet.

Now imagine that this person or pet is in front of you and they are trying to get your attention. I want you to smile broadly, nod your head, lean in and give this person or pet a big hug.

THAT is the exact opposite of being response-neutral.

Remember, you are in an interview. You are using your company’s dollars to hire the best candidate.

If you hire the wrong candidate you could make the next 6 months of your life a living nightmare, or at the least, very frustrating.

As you use this very important interview tip – “Be Pleasant, but Response Neutral” – focus on putting on a pleasant poker face. Pull back your natural enthusiasm – if you have it – and let the candidate work through the interview without a “hug” from you.

You are not with a friend at a bar. This is not that kind of conversation. This is a cordial and professional interview. Be pleasant, even be warm, but think and act response-neutral.

Listen Aggressively

The official definition tip #9 Listening aggressively is:

To hear with determination and energetic pursuit, demonstrating a desire to understand.

The Listening Aggressively Bottom Line: Tune into to what the candidate is saying AND not saying. Pay attention to everything.

These nine interview tips will help set the right tone for the interview and get you on the right track  so that you pick a winner every time!

Suzie Price is a Facilitator and Publisher of WakeUpEager.com

She provides resources for leaders who want to Wake Up Eager
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Facebook | Web

Image Source: blog.pappastax.com


One response to “9 Interview Tips Leaders Use For Picking Winners

  1. Whether you get the job you want really depends on your answers during the interview, even so during this economic crisis!


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