Interviewing Best Practices

best-practices-pink-keyboardInterviewing is the foundation for the hiring process, and today we will review some best practices you can implement to improve your ability to identify and place the best talent. I have over 30 years of interviewing experience and have trained thousands of recruiters, talent acquisition professionals, hiring managers, and leaders on how to upgrade their interview process.


  • Employers only care about filling a job, not about what is important to them.
  • Jobs are often misrepresented during interviews.
  • The culture and core values described during the interview were not accurate.
  • Candidates do not understand how they will be evaluated after 6 or 12 months.
  • Candidates know they are in demand and will not only interview for one opportunity.
  • Job postings only attract 15% of the workforce – those in an active job search.
  • Best hires are often passive candidates who are currently working but open to advancement.
  • Peak performers know their value and are on and off the job market very quickly.
  • They only care about how you can benefit them. 

It’s also important to note that:

Over 50% of the workforce are Millennials and Gen Z.  They will represent over 70% of the workforce worldwide by 2025. 


What is your personal brand?  How many candidates have you helped advance in their career?  Your goal in an interview is to develop trust based on rapport that is established throughout your hiring process.  If a candidate realizes you have hired other individuals with similar experience as them, and they are successful and advancing in their career, they will trust you sooner and their interview answers will not be guarded.


In all relationships, whether business or personal, people want three questions answered that they will never ask.

  1. Can I trust you?
  2. Do you care about me?
  3. Do you deliver what you promise?

If a candidate responds with a “yes” to those three questions, you have established a strong working relationship with this person.  Even if they are not hired, they may provide you with references to other great talent.


Consistency is key to the success of the company’s hiring process.  You will of course add your personality, but there are certain questions that must be asked by everyone conducting interviews if you want to hire the best talent.

There is a shortage of top talent and high achievers don’t care about what you or your clients may want or need, they only care about how accepting an opportunity through you would help them advance in their career.  If they are currently doing the exact job that you have available, even if you offer them more money, they might turn the job down because they want their next opportunity to be a “stretch”, so they learn new things and become more marketable with each career move.

The more you allow candidates to talk about themselves and what is most important to them the more they will like you, which helps establish rapport and trust. You must become proficient at the art of listening. During interviews listen to understand where each candidate is coming from. Attempt to put yourself in their shoes and see the world through their eyes. It is not our job to agree or disagree with what a candidate says, and we should never judge a candidate.  They may have a red flag on their resume or CV but after your interview, you realize there were sound reasons for job changes or gaps in employment.

By asking open-ended questions you will understand their hot buttons and the motivation for them to go through the trauma of a job change. It also assists you greatly in matching, which is the most difficult skill to master.


Closing is a continual process, not something that happens at the end of the interview.  Another word for closing is questioning.  Each subsequent conversation with your candidates should start with, “Has anything changed since the last time we talked?”

The entire interview process should implement the preclose process that includes:

  • Question
  • Answer
  • Preclose

Obviously the most important part of this three-part process is the preclose, to make sure you understand what is being said by your candidates. Most interviewers ask a question, obtain an answer, and proceed to their next questions – without a preclose.

In your initial interview your candidate provides answers that they are comfortable sharing with a stranger they don’t know or trust. Re-ask questions throughout the process because their answers become more thorough and honest as trust and rapport are established.

Listen to what is being said and make sure you are hearing what they are saying. If you repeat what a person has said to you, it gives them pride of authorship and ensures that you did understand what they said.


If you want to improve your level of trust and rapport, it’s all about honesty, high ethics, and addressing the WIIFM (What’s In It For Me) for each candidate you interview.  It is not your job to either agree or disagree with your candidates’ answers.  Put yourself in their shoes and understand what is most important to them.  Remember to listen twice as much as you talk!

Five goals to accomplish during an interview:

  1. Knowledge about a person’s life and core values
  2. Experience, skills, technology, expertise
  3. Preferred company culture
  4. Hot buttons and priorities
  5. Short and long-term goals


Utilize percentages for each task when interviewing your candidates.  How much of their time is spent using specific skills or completing specific responsibilities?  One of the responsibilities of their job may currently represent fifty percent of their time.  However, this represents what they don’t want to do in their next job.  Learn what percentage of their time they want to do specific tasks in their next opportunity.


Numbers don’t lie.  Use on a scale of 1 to 10 (ten being the highest) when questioning your candidates in the following areas to qualify answers:

  • specific skills
  • experience
  • interest level

If your candidate responds with lower than a 10, ask them what it would take for their answer to become a 10, especially when asking about their level of interest.

Implement these ideas and you will fill your open requisitions faster with the best talent!

Barbara Bruno

Barbara Bruno

Barbara Bruno, author of HIGH-TECH HIGH-TOUCH RECRUITING: How To Attract And Retain The Best Talent By Improving The Candidate Experience, is an internationally recognized recruiting expert who has a proven track record of helping recruiters and talent acquisition professionals become more successful and less stressed. She has created several popular LinkedIn Learning courses and is president of Good As Gold Training, HR Search, Inc., and Happy Candidates.

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