How to Get the Most Out of Your Next Candidate Interview

woman-conducting-interviewInterviewing candidates is where it all falls apart for so many business leaders. Despite their best intentions. Because they’ve never been taught how to do it properly, they wing it.


I’m a numbers nerd and I recently calculated that I’ve conducted over 11,000 candidate interviews. Yet, I’m far from perfect. In fact, I’ve made every mistake in the book.

So, I’d like to share some specific ways to get the most out of your next candidate interview. It’ll save you time and save you from making mistakes.

  • Research shows that 81% of candidates lie during an interview. Be a healthy skeptic.
  • Ask the same questions of each role of each candidate. Unstructured interviews are largely a waste of time.
  • Accept that you have biases. We all do. In the first 60 seconds, you’ve already made up your mind. Now, spend the rest of the hour hunting for data to prove that your initial impression was wrong.
  • Relax the candidate. The more at ease, the more authentic (i.e. less phony) they’ll be. I let candidates ask their questions first (for 10 minutes or so), instead of cramming it in at the end.
  • Divide and conquer. Don’t have four interviewers ask the same questions of the candidate. It’s annoying, and you’re not learning any new information. One interviewer (the hiring manager) should do the career deep-dive interview, to assess competencies. And then three other interviewers should focus on DNA match.
  • Drop the “trick questions” – every study I’ve read shows that they prove nothing.
  • Ask “How?” a lot. A LOT. Dig into how they made things happen. It’s vital to figure out whether they were lucky or good. Were they in the right place at the right time? The category was booming? They were along for the ride? Or they were the driver who made things happen?
  • During the interview, write down every name that the candidate mentions. Co-workers, bosses, partners, customers. Then when it’s time to check references, ask for the contact info of everyone on that list.
  • Above all, never make a decision on the spot at the end of the interview. Set expectations on when you’ll be back in touch with an update, but resist the temptation to commit. Like a fine wine, your assessment takes a bit of time to breathe and open up. And you’ll want to compare the candidate with the other four you’re going to meet later this week.

Sigh. I wish I had this list before I started the 11,000 interviews.

What do you think?

Never settle,

Jeff Hyman

Jeff Hyman

Jeff Hyman is the author of Recruit Rockstars: The 10 Step Playbook to Find the Winners and Ignite Your Business. The Chief Talent Officer at Chicago-based Strong Suit Executive Search, Hyman currently teaches the MBA course on recruiting at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management and hosts the five-star Strong Suit Podcast. Jeff has been featured by Inc., Fortune, Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, CNBC, Bloomberg, and other media outlets. Learn more at

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