When you reflect on the hiring process, (i.e. creating a job description, reviewing applicants, calling references, interviewing top candidates and finally making a decision), the part that probably sticks out as the most important is interviewing.

Why? This is your best opportunity to gauge what kind of employee the candidate will be. Does he or she have the right experience? How will he or she blend in the company culture? The list goes on and on. Not to add more pressure, but you probably have about an hour with the applicant. There are a lot of things to consider during that short amount of time.

Here are some tips for approaching interviews strategically!

Verify Important Information

Some positions have specific criteria a person must meet to be considered for a job. Someone applying for a Registered Nurse (RN) position might need 3-6 years of professional experience and a current nursing licensure. If you need an applicant to send copies of certifications or licenses, ask if they can provide that up front. You don’t want to be in a situation where you are onboarding your new RN for the third shift when you find out he or she never passed nursing boards. This will put you back at square one (and probably worse off than before).

Selection of Interviewer(s)

Typically, HR will conduct most interview-related activities, but including additional hiring managers or other HR team members can help mix up the interview process. Some companies will add in the department manager as an interviewer. Department managers are a great resource to utilize in the hiring process. They know what the person will be doing and what it takes to perform well in that department. Other companies will incorporate a department manager, but flip it 180 degrees. They will select a department manager from an unrelated department. Outside department managers can provide a unique perspective since they have no pesky predispositions and can’t compare the candidate to others in the department.

Ask the Right Interview Questions

Choosing the best interview questions is critical to any job interview. Asking a generic question “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” can provide basic insight on the applicant’s general levels of ambition, but there are better options. Try tailoring the questions to the position. This way you are getting relevant information from the candidate and it will help you make an informed decision. As with other tasks we do regularly, we can have a set routine for what questions to ask. Try spicing up your interviewing style.

Allow the Candidate to Ask Questions

While your questions should take top priority during the interview (after all, you are the decision maker!) always give the candidate the opportunity to ask you a few questions at the end. Interested candidates will take extra steps to prepare themselves for interviews. This will show if the candidate did research not only on your company, but also if he/she looked into topics relevant to your industry. If someone goes above and beyond in interview prep, it is a promising sign for a good employee. Having the applicant ask questions will allow you to alleviate any concerns they might have about joining the company.

Interview Follow Up

Candidate experience is a very important element of the recruitment process. Candidates who came in for an interview are people that have had face-to-face contact with members of your company. These candidates have formed an opinion if your company is a “good guy” or a “bad guy” in the marketplace. While a rejection letter is not what anyone wants when they apply for a job, taking the time to send one can go a long way for candidate experience. The key is to keep it on a positive note, invite candidates to keep applying with your company, which can help keep you in the “good guy” column. Giving the applicant closure can also prevent applicants reaching out multiple times for updates.

An interview is typically the “golden ticket” applicants are looking for in the hiring process. This is the time applicants can take to “wow” you with their skills. It is easy to get caught up in the rush of the recruitment process…you’re so close to filling the position! Having an interview strategy can help you avoid hiring someone who is sort of a good fit, as opposed to someone who will excel and add value to your company.

Always ask the best interview questions to ensure the best candidates. Download 100 Interview Questions You Didn’t Think to Ask today!