How to Maintain Control of an Interview

As an employer, you have the upper hand on any candidate who comes through the doors of your business. You are in a familiar atmosphere and they are not. They are most likely nervous and anxious about doing their best and impressing you and you have the luxury of being the one to fire off questions. However, employers also know that, for one reason or another, a job seeker can inadvertently dominate a job interview, leaving you feeling that you’ve been given an inadequate idea of their qualifications and suitability for the position. Here are a few ideas for maintaining control of an interview so it is a productive experience for you and for your company overall.

Give Some Basic Instructions

While a basic interviewing format should be known to most people, it is helpful to put the candidate at ease and explain how you will be conducting the interview. If you’ll be taking copious notes throughout the interview, explain that you’d like them to answer your questions, and that you’ll be writing while they speak. If you’re conducting a behavioral interview, it may be beneficial to briefly explain what kinds of answers you are looking for. Explain at the outset when the appropriate time will be to ask questions of their own. Doing so establishes you as the person in charge of the progress of the interview.

Focus on Smooth Transitions

Ask them to summarize and make clear transitions to new questions for them. Throughout the interview, the candidate will obviously be looking to you to move the conversation along. In their nervousness, some candidates can be prone to rambling and waver off topic. In such a situation, you could offer a summary of their answer such as, “So, I hear you telling me that X was difficult under your last employer, but that you were able to complete the project by doing Y.” Similarly, offer a transition into the next question: “How did your employer respond to that, and was it beneficial to the company in the end?” As the one in charge, you show your confidence and your control over the situation by jumping in and moving the interview along. Thank them for their answer and be frank about the need to go to the next question.

Demonstrate Interview Confidence

Show confidence from the first moment. Just as the candidate is hoping to impress you by the strength of their handshake and steady eye-contact, impress upon them your confidence and knowledge early on as well. Show that you are prepared and anticipating their interview by telling them so and giving a firm handshake of your own. You can also display your confidence and control by adhering to the level of professionalism within the office. Be prompt about the time you’ve committed to spending with a candidate and stick to your interview guidelines.

How do you maintain control of an interview? We want to hear what has worked for you. Share in the comments!

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