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Keeping the Interview Conversational: 5 Ways to Conduct an Interview Like a Pro

The best interviews flow like a conversation rather than an interrogation. Conversations work because it gives both the interviewer and the interviewee space to think laterally and creatively, which allows both parties to share more about themselves.

But how do you keep an interview conversational when you have so many to complete and little time to do it?

Here’s how to get the most out of an interview.

Break the Ice First

“How are you?” is the most obvious question you can ask, and you won’t glean much from the candidate by asking it. Instead, ask them a more specific question that allows you to make a minute or two of small talk.

Some questions include: 

  • What’s the best thing to happen to you this week? 
  • How did you find this job post? 
  • What are you watching on television at the moment? 
  • Tell me something you’ve learned this week.

These are questions that open up the floor for discussion but don’t veer far enough into the personal to be jarring. 

Practice Asking Open-Ended Questions

If the answer to a question is yes or no, then you’ll get a yes or no answer. While it may provide a perfunctory answer, you won’t learn much, and your questions will seem more like an interrogation.

Practice answering open-ended questions to get more from candidates. These questions usually begin with “why” or “how” rather than “can” or “do.’

Ask Questions (and Follow-ups) Relevant to the Interviewee

You won’t find cookie-cutter candidates because there aren’t cookie-cutter people. So, don’t ask every candidate the same list of questions. Instead, use their resume and their previous answers to riff on their experience and ask questions relevant to the candidate’s history specifically.

Lean on Your Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence is an often-overlooked part of the interview process. You don’t give anything away by being kind, warm, and yourself with a candidate, even if you aren’t sure they’re a good fit.

Lean on building a natural rapport with each interviewee where possible to keep the conversation flowing. Not only does it improve the process, but it also gives you a better sense of the candidate’s emotional intelligence too.

Let the Conversation Flow

Candidates regularly say that the best interviews feel more like conversations. And these interviews leave them with a positive experience, even if they don’t land the job.

Rather than rattling off a list of questions, let the conversation flow by demonstrating emotional intelligence and keeping each interview personal. You’ll find you both get more from the process when you do.

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