Interview tips for first-time hiring managers

Kevin Jarvis, Director at Robert Half, provides new managers key tips for running a successful interview process.

Remember the first job interview you ever attended? Remember how stressed and anxious you felt? Well, what about the person on the other side of the desk conducting the interview? The interview process can be just as nerve-racking for the hiring manager as it is for the candidate, especially if it’s their first time spearheading recruitment.

Given the significant costs that can come into play when a new hire goes bad, a hiring manager needs to ensure their first time at bat is a successful one – and that they aren’t making a desperate hire.

Make sure you follow these tips to give yourself the best chance to find the right person.


1. Know what you’re looking for

Don’t waste time interviewing candidates who are a poor fit for the role. Draft an accurate job description, which will attract suitable resumes and separate out applicants who don’t match your needs.

Clearly define the job title, responsibilities and expectations – you want to eliminate any misinterpretation from the outset – and list all the traits of your ideal candidate, including both technical and non-technical skills along with minimum qualifications.

This will also help draft targeted interview questions.



2. Call on colleagues

Once you’ve established your potential candidates, assemble an interviewing team, including colleagues who will be working directly with the new hire, who can help you narrow down the choices into a shortlist for interviewing.

Ask co-workers whose opinions you trust. They should be able to provide honest judgements on whether or not the applicant will be able to fulfil the duties of the position, while also being a good cultural fit with their existing team.



3. Slow and steady wins the (interview) race

Don’t rush your interviews; let them flow organically. Most likely you’re both going to be nervous, so start with a brief background on the company and an overview of the role.

Pay attention to the applicant’s communication style with some easy introduction questions. And be sure to consider appearance and body language cues that indicate enthusiasm (or lack of it) for the position.



4. Always be prepared

It’s essential to prepare a list of questions before the job interview. Going in blind and trying to wing it may cause you to lose your focus or draw a blank. Having a plan of attack front and centre can help you retain control and get the most out of the discussion.



5. Ask the right questions

Use open-ended but direct questions – remember that you’re trying to find out information you can’t get from their application. For example, you might ask: 'How do you organise and manage your time?' or 'What did you love about your last job and workplace?'. Behavioural or competency-based questions are also helpful for digging deeper, such as: 'Describe a time where you had to work with various stakeholders to manage a large project'.



6. Take down notes

Jot down key points during the interview – even if it’s a quick scribble next to a particular point on their CV – and then add more substantial thoughts and impressions once it ends. This way, you’ll have a reminder to jog your memory and it will ensure a more effective discussion with your fellow interviewers once it’s time to debrief.



7. Be quick to move

While you’re weighing up your options, your first choice may also be considering theirs. So once you’ve made a decision, and all the candidate's references check out, extend your offer as soon as possible to avoid losing them to another opportunity.



8. The art of negotiation

Enter the final talk fully prepared to negotiate salary. Decide beforehand how high you’re willing to go and when to step away, as well as non-monetary perks you can offer to sweeten the deal.

Conducting your first job interview doesn’t have to turn you into a ball of nerves. As long as you’re prepared, you know what you’re looking for and you ask the right questions, you’ll give yourself the best chance to find your ideal candidate. While SEEK partners with trusted contributors to bring you the latest insight and advice, the views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author.