In the ever-competitive world of talent acquisition, conducting a great interview isn’t just a box to tick; it’s a strategic advantage. A well-structured interview allows you to assess a candidate’s skills, experience, and cultural fit far more effectively than a resume or cover letter ever could. It’s your chance to uncover the hidden gems beneath the surface and identify the individual who will truly excel within your team.

But how do you ensure your interviews are insightful and lead to the best hiring decisions? At Halo Resourcing, we’ve helped countless businesses find their perfect hires, and we’re sharing our expert tips to turn you into an interview pro.

Preparation is Key

Before you even schedule the interview, take some time to get your ducks in a row. Here’s what you need to do:

  • Know Your Ideal Candidate: Clearly define the skills, experience, and personality traits necessary for success in the role. What are your non-negotiables? What are the “nice-to-haves”? Documenting these attributes helps you assess if a candidate aligns with your vision. Consider using a behavioural interviewing framework to identify specific actions and past experiences that demonstrate your desired qualities.
  • Review CVs Thoroughly: Don’t just skim through, take the time to get a feel for your candidate. Note their career trajectory, relevant achievements, and specific keywords that align with the job description. Don’t just look for the good though! It’s just as important to identify any inconsistencies or red flags that may warrant further exploration during the interview.
  • Craft Compelling Interview Questions: Move beyond generic questions and instead develop a mix of open-ended and specific questions that delve deeper into the candidate’s skills, problem-solving abilities, and approach to work. Behavioural questions will do a lot of the work for you and allow you to assess a candidate’s past performance and predict future potential.
  • Develop a Scoring Rubric: Establish clear criteria for evaluating your candidates. This ensures consistent assessment and avoids relying solely on gut instinct. Include factors like technical expertise, communication skills, cultural fit, and enthusiasm for the role.
  • Plan the Interview’s Flow: Will it involve a panel format? What topics will you cover? Allocate specific time slots for introductions, core questions, candidate inquiries, and wrap-up. A well-structured approach ensures you gather all the necessary information without wasting time. 

Creating a Positive Interview Experience

First impressions matter.  Here are some tips to ensure a welcoming and professional interview environment:

  • Be Prepared: Have the interview room set up beforehand with a copy of the candidate’s CV, your interview questions, a notepad and any additional materials that the candidate might need.
  • Always Start on Time: Yes, they’re here to interview for a role at your amazing company but leaving a candidate waiting is a really bad look. Not only is it unprofessional to start an interview late, but it’s worth remembering that a candidate might not have more time than you’ve allocated them for the interview, especially if they have an existing job to get back to. To help with this, don’t schedule interviews back to back and always leave some space between candidates.
  • Break the Ice: They are bound to be a little nervous, so finding ways to relax your candidate creates a better interview for everyone. Offer them a drink, introduce yourself and briefly explain your roles within the company. Smile, maintain eye contact, and use a friendly and approachable tone of voice.

Techniques for Drawing Out the Best

Now for the heart of the interview: asking insightful questions and actively listening to the candidate’s responses. Here’s what you need to focus on:

  • Open-Ended Questions: These are your bread and butter. Instead of “yes or no” queries, ask questions that prompt candidates to elaborate. For example, instead of “Do you have experience managing teams?”, ask “Tell me about a time you had to motivate a team to achieve a challenging goal.” This reveals the candidate’s thought process and problem-solving abilities.
  • Active Listening: Pay close attention to the candidate’s responses, body language, and overall communication style. Pay attention to pauses, hesitations, and inconsistencies that could indicate a lack of clarity or potential red flags. Nonverbal cues can reveal a lot about a candidate’s confidence and comfort level.
  • Ask Follow-Up Questions: Don’t settle for surface-level answers. Dig deeper with follow-up questions to gain a clearer understanding of their thought process and experiences.
  • Behavioural Interviewing: These questions focus on past actions and behaviours to predict future performance. For instance, instead of “How would you handle a difficult client?”, ask “Describe a situation where you had to deal with an upset customer. What was your approach, and what was the outcome?” This provides concrete examples of how the candidate tackled challenges relevant to the role.
  • Scenario-Based Questions: You don’t want to go too crazy with these, but dropping a couple of hypothetical situations will help you assess a candidate’s problem-solving skills and critical thinking on the fly. 
  • Assess for Culture Fit: While technical skills are crucial, don’t underestimate cultural alignment. Ask questions about work style, values, and how a candidate would navigate team dynamics.

Identifying Soft Skills and Red Flags

While a strong CV gets a foot in the door, the interview is your opportunity to assess the intangible qualities that define a successful hire. Here’s what to look for:

  • Communication Skills: Observe how the candidate articulates themselves. Is their communication clear, concise, and professional? Can they tailor their message to different audiences? Active listening skills are also crucial.
  • Passion and Enthusiasm: Does the candidate appear genuinely excited about the role and your company? Are they eager to learn and contribute? Look for a spark of passion in their eyes and a genuine interest in the conversation.
  • Problem-Solving Skills: Throughout the interview, pay attention to how the candidate approaches challenges. Do they demonstrate critical thinking and the ability to break down complex issues?
  • Teamwork and Collaboration: Does the candidate value working with others? Do they possess the ability to collaborate effectively towards shared goals?

The interview is also your opportunity to avoid hiring mistakes. While you’re assessing the candidate’s suitability, it’s equally important to be aware of potential red flags that might indicate a poor fit.  Here are some warning signs to watch out for:

  • Poor Research: Did the candidate research your company and the role? Do they have a clear understanding of the responsibilities and expectations? A lack of preparation suggests a disengaged candidate.
  • Lack of Enthusiasm: Pay attention to the candidate’s overall energy level and interest in the role and your company. A lack of enthusiasm could indicate a mismatch in expectations or a lack of genuine interest in the opportunity.
  • Negativity About Previous Employers: While it’s natural to discuss challenges in a previous role, constant negativity towards past employers can be a red flag. Look for candidates who focus on the positive aspects of their experiences and demonstrate a willingness to learn from past situations.
  • Inflated Self-Importance: A candidate who constantly brags about their accomplishments without acknowledging team contributions may prioritise personal gain over collaboration.
  • Dishonesty or Inconsistencies: Pay close attention to inconsistencies in the candidate’s CV or responses. Watch out for vagueness or nervousness when discussing past experiences.
  • Unexplained Gaps in Employment History: While there could be legitimate reasons for gaps in employment, it’s important to find out the reasons behind them.

Taking the Next Step

By implementing these strategies, you can transform interviews from routine procedures into valuable tools for discovering great talent. Remember, the interviewing process is a two-way street. While you’re assessing the candidate’s fit for your company, they’re also evaluating their potential fit within your team and company culture. By conducting engaging and insightful interviews, you’ll not only attract the best candidates but also create a positive employer brand that attracts future talent.

Do you have a vacancy to fill? At Halo Resourcing, we specialise in connecting our clients with great candidates. Contact us today to learn how our expertise can streamline your hiring process and help you find the perfect fit for your next open position.

Call 01908 229589 or email