How to Be an Outstanding Interviewer: 9 Effective Tips


As an interviewer, it’s your job to recognize the best talent, get the most out of every candidate, and help them truly show their potential. The candidates you’re interviewing might be shy, inexperienced, confused, or under stress. That doesn’t mean they’re not a huge potential and possibly a great fit. However, you’ll need to make sure you got the most out of them and helped them show their true capacity.

This means that you need to learn how to go from a good to an outstanding interviewer. There are tips and tricks you should start applying to all your future interviews, that will help you excel at your job. Below, we’ve created a list of the 9 most effective tips for an interviewer such as yourself. Let’s take a closer look.

1.      Prepare Candidate Information

To be able to talk to a candidate the right way, you need to make sure you know who you’re talking to and have the right background information.

In the first stage of the recruitment process, you’ve read dozens of resumes, motivational letters, and letters of recommendation. Now it’s time to brush up your memory.

So, before the interview starts, you should:

  • read candidate documentation once again
  • check their references
  • write notes about the candidate
  • check their portfolio or work samples

You can even print out this document and keep it at your desk during the interview. This will help you keep the important information available at all times during the interview.

So, don’t let yourself “wing it” and be thoroughly prepared for each candidate.

2.      Prepare a List of Questions

Preparing a list of questions should go without saying. But, here’s why it’s important to do it:

  • it’ll help you navigate the interview professionally
  • you’ll have all points covered
  • you’ll be able to compare different candidates’ answers to the same question
  • you’ll be more efficient

Without previously prepared questions, you can easily forget to ask important questions, drift away, and waste your and your candidates’ time. Use WriteLoad if you need writing help, or someone with more experience to edit or proofread your official documentation before you submit it to your superiors. Prepare thoroughly for each interview and leave nothing out of your note, reports, and official documents.

3.      Prepare Hypothetical Situations

Apart from a list of straightforward questions, you should also try and test your candidates’ skills and resourcefulness on the spot. A list of hypothetical situations and tasks is a great resource for making your interview far more successful.

Here’s what we have in mind:

  • giving the candidate a task such as writing a title for a social media post or writing a press release on a hypothetical event
  • asking them a question such as “This is a hypothetical situation. How would you handle it?”

This is one of the best ways of recognizing truly talented and deserving candidates, even when you’re recruiting from a larger talent pool. You can learn a lot about a candidate by observing how they’re thinking and developing a solution in their mind. Think of simple and straightforward tasks that will show you the skills you want to see in them.

4.      Be Polite and Welcoming

Now that you’ve got the questions and candidate information all set, it’s time to meet them in person. You should try and build a relaxed atmosphere to help candidates open up and show their best qualities.

Make sure to:

  • greet them politely and welcome them to the interview
  • introduce yourself, and other people present in the room
  • provide a brief introduction about how the interview will go

After that, allow them to say a couple of words about themselves and start with the interview. Don’t ask them to talk too much without your guidance, since it may throw them off their track.

5.      Create an Evaluation System

Evaluating candidates in an unbiased manner should be your top priority. You don’t want your personal experience, opinions, or beliefs to intervene with someone’s shot of getting the job.

Therefore, you should create an evaluation system and apply it to all your candidates. You could score their answers on a scale e.g. from poor to excellent or from 1 to 5.

The important thing is that you:

  • evaluate the candidates using the same methods
  • create a system that allows you to meaningfully compare their answers

You want to be able to look at different candidates’ results and rate their performance objectively.

Also, having such clear notes and an evaluation system will help you present your decision to your superiors, when necessary. If you think you need help with writing a report or any other type of content, read about MyDissertations to see what their support team has to offer. You’ll be able to write a better report, justify your call, and provide all the necessary documentation.

6.      Actively Take Notes

During an interview, a lot of things can happen. The candidate might say or do something that intrigues you or disappoints you. If you try to keep it all inside your head, it’ll get mixed up after a couple of interviews.

Therefore, make sure you develop a note-taking system that will help you record all the main impressions from the interview without too much trouble.

7.      Be Ready to Improvise

Your prepared questions and your note-taking system should not be the only resources you’ll use during an interview. You also need to use your creativity and allow yourself to improvise.

So, here’s what you need to do (or not do):

  • don’t stick to your planned version of the interview blindly
  • listen carefully to candidates’ answers and ask follow-up questions
  • build on to their answers and allow yourself to step away from the scripted version

You have to be open to different directions in which the conversation might head, to learn as much as possible about each candidate. So, be ready to improvise and be spontaneous.

8.      Address Potential Concerns

When you’re talking to your candidates, certain concerns might cross your mind. Their personality, skill set, career changes, experience, or anything else that defines them as a candidate might worry you in terms of doing the job properly.

Address this.

Don’t just think about it but ask open questions about overcoming potential obstacles that you think the candidates might have to face. Their answers might surprise, provide more insight, remove your doubts, or confirm them.

9.      Let it Sink

After you finish interviewing the candidates, don’t try and decide between them immediately. Instead, let it sink.

This is especially important if you have more candidates to interview for the same job position. Instead of making a quick judgment call, we suggest you:

  • finish with all the interviews
  • let it sink for an hour or a day
  • evaluate all candidates simultaneously using your notes

This will allow you to compare, jump from one to the other, and find the candidate that really stands out from the rest. And, that’s what your job is all about.

Final Thoughts

Being an outstanding interviewer is not just about asking the right questions and making the candidates feel good. It’s also about finding a way to allow them to shine, speak their mind, show their qualities, and prove why they’re worth getting this job.

Use the 9 brilliant tips we’ve shared above to prepare for all your future interviews, and work your way to becoming an excellent interviewer.