SmartRecruiters Blog

How to Interview Extraordinary People

Earlier this month, I read an interesting blog post, “How to Hire Extraordinary People.”   The author, Leah Busque makes one of the most complicated and important processes so simple.  It’s like that moment when you first leave the hair salon just after a cut and color.  Your hair looks so perfect and the stylist made it look so easy.  So the next day you grab your flat iron, blow drying brush, and work to create the perfect simple style except the result is a fumbled and embarrassing version of what you saw the day before.

Hiring the right people starts with selecting the best candidates to conduct an interview.  Before even dialing that phone to set a phone or in person interview, recruiters and hiring managers sort through resumes looking for a handful of candidates that catch their eye.  Applications and resumes are innately flawed, and if you are looking for passion within a resume, you shouldn’t be looking at a resume.  These are made for the masses and are considered marketing documents made by inexperienced job seekers who have never been trained to articulate passion.  Even this is not so simple.

So you make your best educated guess and schedule five interviews with your top selections, and now you must squeeze out of them passion, hustle, transparency, and awesome in order to make the best hiring decision.

How to Interview

  • Don’t Keep the Candidate Waiting.As I mentioned, candidates talk and it is likely that these job seekers know one another.  It’s okay to make an offer immediately if you know your candidate is the best of the bunch.  We all want to be wanted.  Extraordinary candidates have options.  Ask them who they are interviewing with and make the strongest offer possible.  Top job prospects are in demand and won’t stop interviewing for other jobs until they feel secure in their new role.
  • Make Them Comfortable.  Interview candidates who are comfortable are more likely to disclose their real intentions and interests because they view you as a friend.  Don’t integrate them. Cross your legs, act informal, and sit in your chair in a casual manner.  You’ll be surprised at how it lightens the job seekers mood getting them to their real intentions and aspirations.
  • Don’t Ask Trick Questions.  I hate these type of interviews.  It throws off the casual atmosphere you’ve worked hard to build.  While I recommend you sticking to an interview guide, don’t make it so obvious.  Quietly jot down notes but focus your eye contact on them instead of the paper.  Copious note takers make the interviewee very, very nervous.
  • Focus on Their Passion. The talent war is heatsing up and skilled job seekers are more in demand.  These skilled candidates come with a higher price tag.  Mentorship and training programs can take an employee who is passionate about their work to rock star and skills employee status.  You can’t train passion.  These employees love what they do and are more engaged and productive.  Ask your interviewees about what they love doing.  Look for voice infliction and other cues that tell more of the story.  Many job seekers hire career coaches and are trained to answer questions to your liking instead of revealing who they really are.
  • Be Honest.  There is nothing worse as a job seeker than getting excited about a job and being sold to during an interview only to find out the hiring manager was selling you something that didn’t exist at all.  If the job requires off hours or two to three weekends a month, be upfront about it. Don’t fake it because word travels fast.  Consider including a copy of the position’s job description when they arrive for the interview.  One unhappy new hire can contaminate your entire orientation class and result in negative feedback on sites like Glassdoor and social media.

Candidate courting and conversation shouldn’t really ever end, even after your employee’s first day.  Remember that the interview is as much for you, the hiring manager as it is the prospective employee.  Manipulation, tricks, and dishonesty are never the right foot to start off in any relationship.  They are certainly not the makings of a successful interview with an extraordinary person.

how to interviewJessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR is a workplace and technology strategist specializing in social media.  She’s an author who writes at Blogging4Jobs Also, connect with her on Pinterest @blogging4jobs. Photo credit by BillyZetsubou



Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR is a HR consultant, new media strategist, and author who writes at Blogging4Jobs. Jessica is the host of Job Search Secrets, an internet television show for job seekers.