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How to Prepare for a Job Interview

Your ability to get the most out of the interviews you conduct for your business invariably depends on how well prepared you are. Here’s a checklist of things you should do before you ask the first interview question:

  • Thoroughly familiarize yourself with the job description, especially its hiring criteria. Do so even if you draw up the criteria yourself.

  • Review everything the candidate has submitted to date. That includes a résumé, cover letter, online profile, and so on. Note any areas needing clarification or explanation, such as quirky job titles, gaps in work history, or hobbies that may reveal aspects of the candidate’s personality that can have a bearing on job performance.

  • Set up a general structure for the interview. Create a basic schedule for the interview so that, as the meeting progresses, you reserve enough time to cover all the key areas you want to address. Having a rough schedule to adhere to will help you begin and end the session on time, allowing you to be more efficient and showing that you respect the candidate’s time.

    A phone screen is a great use of time to provide the candidate an opportunity to answer general questions you have and for you to determine if he’s worth the time investment to bring on-site for an interview.

  • Write down the questions you intend to ask. Base your questions on the areas of the candidate’s background that deserve the most attention (based on the job description and your hiring criteria). Keep the list in front of you throughout the interview.

  • Hold the interview in a room that’s private and reasonably comfortable. Clear your desk, close the door, and either set your phone so all calls go to voicemail or have your calls forwarded somewhere else.

Try not to schedule job interviews in the middle of the day. The reason: You’re not likely to be as relaxed and as focused as you need to be, and you may have a tough time fighting off interruptions and distractions.

The ideal time to interview candidates is early morning, before the workday starts. You’re fresher then, and so is the candidate. If you have no choice, give yourself a buffer of at least half an hour before the interview so that you can switch gears and prepare for the interview in the right manner.

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