Preparation is one of the most important aspects of any interview for both the candidate and the employer. It becomes increasingly important when it is a virtual interview. There is added complexity in portraying your employer brand, culture and work-life experience when it is being communicated through a screen. Being prepared to properly evaluate your top candidates and properly communicate your employer brand will create a positive and impressive impression.
Create a plan
Proactively structuring the flow and agenda for the interview will help to guide the conversation more effectively and ensure that you are able to cover all the necessary topics and questions. This becomes crucial when you are comparing candidates so that you have all the information needed to make informed decisions.
Part of the interview structure should include an introduction and conclusion so that it is clear when the interview ends as opposed to an awkward silence before the interview is over, or to transition the pleasantries into the meaningful conversation of the interview at the beginning.
Finally, it is important that you are able to have time before each interview to properly review each candidate and make sure that your mind is not elsewhere. If you are conducting a video interview it will also allow you the time needed to test your tech before joining in the virtual interview with microphone or camera issues.
All interviewers need to be in sync
In most circumstances there is more than one person involved on the employer’s side of the interview. In order to ensure you continue to provide a positive interview experience it is paramount that all the interviewers are aware of their role, know what questions or topics they are responsible to cover as well as when to cover them. In addition to knowing the questions they are responsible for, it is also important to know who will be responsible for answering questions from the candidates. Make sure that topics are covered off beforehand so that the best and most credible person in the interview is answering the right questions.
All interviewers need to coordinate and understand the skills or traits that they are assessing. It ensures that everyone in the interview is able to provide their opinion on each aspect that is being evaluated which provides you with a more objective review of each candidate.
Research candidates ahead of time
Once you reach the interview stage, whether it’s in-person or virtual, the candidate has likely already provided you with a lot of information during the screening phases. You run the risk of looking unprepared or wasting time going over the same information again if you don’t take a few minutes beforehand to do some research and recap previous touch points. Use the interview time to elaborate on areas, topics or work samples that you’d like to explore further in order to make a proper evaluation of the candidate. In some instances you may also want to verify the accuracy of claims or information that they have previously provided on their resume or mentioned during a screening call.
Preparing your interview questions
Executive level employees are different from other employees in terms of the depth of influence that they have within an organization. Additional measures need to be taken to ensure there are handcrafted interview questions created to dive deep into the psychological disposition of executive candidates.
Preparing for an interview, whether it is in-person or virtual, is no different. Both require rigorous attention to detail in regards to the format and customized questions being asked.
Break the interview down into focused categories. This will keep you on track and ensure you ask the right questions that provide you with thorough insight and an understanding as to whether or not the candidate will be a good fit for the role within your company or organization.
Tip: Structure the interview and subsequent questions into categories such as strategic planning, culture, communication and track record. This structure should always be modified for every role to mirror the objective of the hire.
Preparing your interview answers (for questions that the candidate will ask)
It’s no secret that candidates are also evaluating you during the interview. They will be assessing their fit with you, trying to determine if what you say aligns with their values and where they see themselves in their career.
By preparing answers to some of the more common and relevant questions that may arise from candidates you’ll be able to give a stronger impression and provide relevant information that the candidate is looking for. Without preparing for some of these types of questions you run the risk of looking disorganized and lacking pertinent information about yourself or the company.
Common questions or topics from candidates include: the company mission and values, short-term and long-term goals, what you like or dislike about your role/company, describe your culture or working environment, remote vs. in-office hours of the position, challenges for the role and more. If you need to consult other departments like HR or Marketing to answer questions accordingly, it is important to gather the information before the interview. You may even have to ask certain departments if the information being requested is confidential or not as well.
Interviewing takes time and dedication to properly evaluate and compare candidates. Preparing for your interviews will help to generate a positive candidates experience.
We have a number of other resources available to help you interview for specific executive roles including CEOs, COOs, CMOs, CHROs, CFOs, as well as assessing cultural fit, how to conduct socially distant interviews, video interview tips, removing biases and more.
If you need any additional support with your executive search or recruitment process, please reach out to us to see how we can help you successfully find, fit and achieve the peak performance of your next executive.