Interview tips and tricks we can't live without

There are many ways to interview successfully, and we don’t claim our approach is best. But we do maintain that we’ve had more success with the following tools, than with any other we’ve tried.

So if your objective is to improve your interview skills to make the hiring process even more effective, these simple tips and tricks can help. These best-practice methods will provide valuable information about the candidate in front of you, enabling you to make a more informed decision about their abilities.
By following these tips you can also engage, inform and motivate candidates about your business so they want to work for you.

Utilize these ideas effectively to make your interviews more informative, relevant, useful and fun.


Interviewing skills

1. Structure your success.
Plan and conduct the interview in three clear sections: ask questions in the beginning, provide information about the business in the middle and answer their questions at the end.

Interviews are often stressful for candidates, so explaining the format from the outset will orient candidates to the process and allow them to get a firm footing. This makes it easy for the candidate to manage expectations, information, and use of time. From the employers' side of the table, it provides a simple map to follow to ensure you are always on track. For example:

“Thank you for coming. We’ll chat for the next 40 minutes or so and during that time I’ll start by asking you about yourself, your experience and aspirations. Next, I’ll explain more about the role and our business. Afterward there will be plenty of opportunities for you to ask questions or add in anything else you think is relevant.”

2. Question for success:
By asking questions from the outset you’ll be able to gauge what the candidate knows or has researched about the role and the business, without unintentionally providing them with the information first.

For example; if you begin by describing the ideal candidate, you may unwittingly provide information the candidate can subsequently use.
Employer: “We’re looking for energetic types who are committed to our success”.

Candidate: “It’s my energy that makes me so committed to succeeding”.
Full marks for the candidate for paying attention, but the employer in this example has learned little, or nothing of value. Worse, they could even be fooled into thinking they’ve found the ideal new hire.

Similarly, be sure to avoid leading the witness. If you accidentally give away too much information in your question, you’ll only arm your candidate with the answer. For example:

Employer: “How would your team describe you? Would they say you are committed?”.

Candidate: “Yes - my team are always commenting on y commitment. In fact, that’s one of my strengths”.

3. Listen attentively:
You already know the importance of asking open questions; questions that require a full response, rather than just a yes or no, but remember to listen to the answers given. (It’s surprising how many interviewers forget this part!) Consider not just the answer, but the thought process behind it.

By concentrating on the candidates thinking, approach, rationale and logic you’ll uncover plenty of useful information about their abilities to perform in the role. For example, was their answer just about me, me, me or did they refer to us, we, our and ‘the team’?

4. Manage the time:
In the 3 part model described above, your questions should take around 70% of the allotted time. Telling them about the business should take around 20% and 10% should be allowed for their questions.

Whilst it’s tempting to answer questions as they arise, hold them until the end. This ensures you don’t get sidetracked or bogged down in detail. It also ensures you get to cover everything you want to know or find out without running out of time.

Many interviewers forget to stop talking. Perhaps they think an interview is an opportunity to lecture the candidate (it’s not!). Nonetheless, rambling questions or corporate monologues uses up valuable time. Remember, the goal of the interviewer is to gather useful information. You can only do that if you are paying attention.

5. Notice the clues:
Is the candidate sitting forward (suggests interest in others), or sitting back (suggests an interest in self-only)? Did they listen to your instructions and questions? Have they mirrored or ignored some of the words you’ve used?

Whatever comes up, you’ll only be aware of it if you notice what’s going on. At the MindSmith Group we believe that only 7% of communication uses words (the rest is physiology and tonality). That means it’s vital to keep your eyes and ears on the candidate, rather than on their CV or your written notes.


These 5 best practice techniques are easy to implement and can be used to immediately improve the interview system in your workplace. These simple interview ideas can enhance how both you and your candidates experience the process. When used as part of an ongoing employee hiring management strategy they can help empower your interviewers and future employees. Good luck!

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