Conduct the Interview

An effective interview contains three phases: breaking the ice, asking questions, and selling the candidate on the company.

Breaking the Ice
In the opening phase of the interview, the manager’s primary job is to diffuse the tension that exists because of the nervousness of both parties. Many skilled interviewers use the job description to explain the nature of the job and the company’s culture to the applicant. Then they use “icebreakers,” questions about a hobby or special interest, to get the candidate to relax and begin talking.

Asking Questions
During the second phase of the interview, the employer asks the questions from the question bank to determine the applicant’s suitability for the job. The interviewer’s primary job at this point is to listen. Effective interviewers spend about 25 percent of the interview talking and about 75 percent listening. They also take notes during the interview to help them ask follow-up questions based on a candidate’s comments and to evaluate a candidate after the interview is over. Experienced interviewers also pay close attention to a candidate’s nonverbal clues, or body language, during the interview. They know that candidates may be able to say exactly what they want with their words but that their body language does not lie!

Entrepreneurs must be careful to make sure they avoid asking candidates illegal questions. At one time, interviewers could ask wide-ranging questions covering just about every area of an applicant’s background. Today, interviewing is a veritable minefield of legal liabilities waiting to explode in the unsuspecting interviewer’s face.

Selling the Candidate on the Company
In the final phase of the interview, the employer tries to sell desirable candidates on the company. This phase begins by allowing the candidate to ask questions about the company, the job, or other issues. Again, experienced interviewers note the nature of these questions and the insights they give into the candidate’s personality. This part of the interview offers the employer a prime opportunity to explain to the candidate why the company is an attractive place to work. Remember that the best candidates will have other offers, and it’s up to you to make sure they leave the interview wanting to work for your company. Finally, before closing the interview, the employer should thank the candidate and tell him or her, what happens next (e.g., “We’ll be contacting you about our decision within two weeks.”).