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6 Steps to better interviews

Updated: Jun 21, 2023

What are you like as an interviewer? What’s your recruitment and interview process? And how successful is it?

The recruitment challenges of 2023

Finding and retaining top talent in 2023 is a well-documented challenge. And the bad news is that according to a recent report published by Forbes Advisor (Key HR Statistics and Trends In 2023), 30% of new hires leave within 90 days. Ouch, that hurts. And the reasons for leaving?

  • 43% say the role doesn’t meet their expectations

  • 34% leave because of a specific incident

  • 32% don’t think the company culture is a good fit.

In a post covid world, values fit along with wellbeing, flexibility and inclusivity remain the dominant features in the employment market. The interview stage may only be one part of the recruitment process, but it is a vital part. So here are six ways to improve your interviews.

1. Identify and refine your company’s core values

Sometimes easier to define than recognise or measure, every organisation has its own unique culture whether they know it or not.

Company culture is the unique combination of your company goals, values, vision and beliefs as well as your way of working and communicating, your company behaviour and habits. It’s easy to mistake company culture (it’s not how well you get on after work) but it’s absolutely essential that you and your hiring managers are clear about what it means to you before the recruitment process begins.

Time spent nailing this down is always time well spent and from there, you can prepare interview questions based on your company's core values. For example, what is a candidate's experience of teamwork and collaboration? What’s their preferred way of working and communicating and what matters to them?

2. Use interview scorecards

An interview scorecard uses a scoring system to evaluate job candidates against certain criteria, often (but not necessarily) using a rating out of 5 or 10. The questions can be customised so that they align with your essential requirements and relate to a range of things including experience, soft skills, hard skills and attitude.

Preparing an interview scorecard requires you to think carefully about specific traits and skills required for a role. Experienced Head of Sales is too vague, but a scorecard will help you define what this means in practice.

Scorecards also enable you to create a more structured, consistent and objective interview, keeping the interview focused on the same questions for each candidate and ensuring the candidate is being assessed on the required skills and traits rather than on their performance at interview (which isn’t necessarily a good indicator). Scorecards also help reduce and eliminate bias.

And because the interviewer isn’t having to concentrate on taking comprehensive notes, it can create a more comfortable and natural interview experience, after which you’re left with a clear score which you can compare against other candidates.

3. Use Online assessments

Take full advantage of psychometric testing at an early stage of the application process. These can be used to measure a range of things including aptitude (verbal, numerical, inductive and logical reasoning), personality traits and emotional intelligence.

The benefits of these tests are many:

  • They enable you to qualify candidates before an interview and thereby reduce pre-interview screening time

  • They can help you standardise your interview process and remove bias

  • They help reduce unfairness, for example, if you have a highly suitable candidate who performs badly in an interview due to nerves

  • They enable you to give candidate feedback, backed with data

  • And of course, they enable you to make informed decisions which leads to better hiring decisions.

4. Create a positive experience

Remember you as an employer are selling your company to your candidates. Even if they don’t get the job, they should walk away thinking how wonderful the experience was and hopefully recommend someone else to apply!

That means first impressions count. And we all know that we form those impressions within seconds and that they can stay with us for a long time - even if they are based on superficial factors like what someone is wearing.

Therefore think carefully about the experience you provide. It should go without saying that you should be on time, and make sure you are well-prepared and familiar with the candidate’s details and experience. Smile and make good eye contact and try to make sure your body language is open and relaxed. Make sure candidates know what is expected and are comfortable. These may be small details, but they make a difference.

5. Be an active listener

As a rough rule of thumb, the percentage of the interview during which the interviewer should be talking as opposed to listening should follow the 20/80 rule with the interviewee doing the majority of the talking.

As interviewer, you should be “actively listening”. This is more than just hearing what is said and should involve seeking to understand the meaning and intent behind what is said. It is a skill that is easier for some than others.

Active listening techniques include:

  • Making meaningful eye contact

  • Noticing non-verbal cues and communication

  • Asking open-ended questions to encourage fuller, more meaningful answers

  • Listening to understand rather than to respond

Apart from creating a more engaging and satisfactory experience for the interviewee, actively listening should also, of course, result in a more insightful interview process.

6. Ask for Candidate feedback

Feedback is a two-way process and it’s really important to ask for feedback from those candidates who either succeed or equally important, those that drop out of the hiring process or turn down an offer.

By finding out why they dropped out, you can get valuable information about how they perceived your company and your company culture. If they’ve accepted an offer from a competitor, this can provide useful insights and just the act of taking the trouble to follow up can improve your brand’s reputation.

As with all feedback, it needs to be done swiftly via the most appropriate channel. Ask open-ended, specific, and relevant questions that focus on the reasons they didn’t pursue a career with you and don’t forget to use what you learn. Identify the best way of efficiently evaluating the information so that you can identify common problems and areas to improve. This will all lead to more informed hiring, better placing and improved employee retention.

For more information or help with any of the above, please get in touch.


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