Hiring is a complex, but not impossible, challenge. On one side, you have a potential future teammate putting their best foot forward and making a great impression. On the other side, you (or other decision-makers) are carefully combing over candidates to answer an important question: Will this person be a good fit for now and in the long run? It’s not an easy question to answer, especially if you’re feeling the pressure to act quickly. 

The thing is, correctly identifying great candidates is tricky to do in a jiffy. And the cost of hiring a bad employee makes finding the right candidate absolutely essential. That’s why, below, we’ve provided several hiring manager tips to help you find the best people for the job.

How to become a good hiring manager

There’s no switch you can flip to become a great hiring manager overnight. As with any other job, it takes time and effort. If you had to keep one and only thing in mind as you do it all, it’s this: Make recruitment an ongoing process. You never know when a suitable candidate will be looking for new work. It’s easy for a competitor to nab these candidates before they even enter your hiring pool. 

Keeping a pulse on what your hiring needs while growing your company’s reputation could have great candidates lining up at your door. (Maybe not literally at your door, but you get the idea.)

Prepare to take notes

It’s hard to remember how each candidate answered the interview questions! With Fellow you can easily refer back to your notes to help make the best hiring decision.

How do you ace a hiring manager interview?

For starters, keep in mind what you’re attempting to do: Determine if the candidate fits the position and if they’ll jell well with your team. That means getting to know them as much as possible during your relatively short one-on-one meeting with them. It also means predicting what a job candidate might expect to be asked. Then, just ask those questions. Be sure to take some extra time to discuss the applicant’s resume and determine how it helps them stand out from the pack. 

17 hiring manager tips

You now know the broad strokes of succeeding as a hiring manager – here come the finer details. These tips should help you run a smoother, more effective interview process and hire better candidates the first go-round. But before getting into specifics, one of the best things you can do before an interview is – and seriously, this is important – just relax. Try these great hiring manager tips to get started! 

1 Hold a pre-interview

We’ll admit it: It might seem a little strange to conduct an interview for an interview. Push that worry aside – a pre-interview can make your hiring process so much smoother. If your company is hiring and the position attracts many applicants, some short pre-interviews held via phone or video can help narrow down your choices. 

During your pre-interviews, you can gauge candidates’ interest in the position and double-check that they meet the minimum qualifications. You can also hold these meetings over the phone or through online meeting tools, making them easier to schedule. Actual interviews, on the other hand, are traditionally in-person affairs, though in the remote work era, that’s changing too.

2 Rehearse the interview 

Practice makes perfect, and that remains true in an interview setting. Before you interview a candidate, you should rehearse how you’ll greet them, what questions you’ll ask, and practice your active listening skills. You could follow a script as you rehearse, but sticking to something rigid in the actual interview could make things feel stilted or awkward. So yes, rehearsing what you’ll say goes a long way, but feel free to go off-script. Your interviewees might feel more comfortable. 

3 Understand the position

It’s way more difficult finding the perfect person for a company position if you don’t fully understand its requirements. Incomplete knowledge of the role can skew your expectations when you’re interviewing candidates. The result can be the exact outcome you want to avoid: Hiring someone unsuitable for the job. So before the hiring process officially starts, get to know all the ins and outs of the position. This way, both you and the candidate understand all the responsibilities involved. 

4 Be creative 

There can be many roles within one company, so a one-size-fits-all interview process isn’t likely to fit every open position. That means going beyond asking generic questions about how a candidate would handle certain situations. Instead, you should cater your interview to the position’s everyday responsibilities. For example, hiring for a writing job might involve giving the applicant a prompt to turn in before or after their interview.

5 Stay organized 

Interviewing and hiring new employees is generally a chaotic process, especially if the open position gets a lot of applicants. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with a constant stream of resumes and candidates, but proper preparation can help you stay on track. 

Namely, thorough organization can be a lifesaver here. Well-organized hiring managers space out appointments so they have ample time to review materials and rehearse questions. You can – and should – be this person too. You should also consider creating a file for each candidate’s resume and other key documents to keep all your ducks in a row. 

6 Ask the big questions upfront

It’s not a great feeling to reach the end of an interview with a promising candidate and then realize they’re ineligible for the role. For example, let’s say you’re hiring for a job that requires relocation or non-traditional hours. In that case, your first question should be whether or not the candidate can relocate or work non-traditional hours. Even if those conditions were part of the job description, asking about them again at the beginning of the interview helps rule out candidates you love but who are unlikely to join the team.

7 Keep the small talk to a minimum

You’ll only have so much time to learn about a candidate and determine whether they fit the position. Small talk won’t help you check that box. It can distract you from that big goal and leave you with no clue how an applicant would perform in the role. 

Additionally, some small talk is inappropriate in interviews because applicants can use it to question your judgment. For example, if you ask a candidate when they graduated college and they don’t get the job, they may be led to believe their age was a factor in them not getting an offer. But that’s not to say that you should avoid all small talk. Light conversation can help put you both at ease – just remember what is and isn’t appropriate to ask. 

8 Ask behavioral interview questions

Behavioral interview questions aren’t your everyday conversation topics. They measure a candidate’s soft skills such as effective communication and cooperation. To gauge these skills, ask the applicant how they handled a challenge at a previous job. (But ask more job-specific questions too!) Comparing the candidate’s answer to something they might experience on your team can help you assess how they’ll handle the role.

9 Ask questions that go beyond experience 

Most candidates who get an interview likely have the requisite experience for the job. But that’s usually not enough information to determine if they will actually fit the job. That’s another reason why you should ask questions about solving difficult previous problems or resolving interpersonal issues with a coworker. The candidate’s answers can help you gauge their morals, work ethic, reliability, and ability to manage stress.

10 Look at the candidate’s resume again right before the interview

It only helps to have a candidate’s qualifications fresh in your mind right before meeting them. Going over their resume with a fine-toothed comb can help you devise more meaningful interview questions about their work history and qualifications. These questions can help you expand on what the candidate’s resume says and further narrow your choices.

11 Take notes during the interview

No, it’s not rude – it’s part of the job. Taking careful notes during each candidate’s interview gives you a point of comparison across all candidates. It’s usually easier to decide whom to hire when every applicant’s interview highlights are right there in front of you. And even if your memory is sharp as a tack, several interviews in one day can be taxing, so it’s possible to forget key details. Having something to reference after the fact gives every candidate a fair chance – and you a clearer mind. 

12 Ask open-ended questions

It’s understandable to ask binary yes-or-no questions – after all, you’re seeking the most information in the shortest amount of time. But these questions really won’t get you very far. They don’t give a candidate an opportunity to expound upon their resume, and they won’t differentiate the applicants from each other. Open-ended questions, on the other hand, can do both. They don’t have to be complex, just worded in a way that encourages all kinds of responses.

13 Recognize your own strengths and weaknesses

One of the best ways to improve your interview skills is recognizing what you do right and what you do wrong. After you wrap up an interview, reflect on how it went and identify where you could improve. Over time, you’ll conduct more effective interviews and hire the best candidates possible. And hey, if you’re out here assessing job candidates’ strengths and weaknesses, you might as well do the same for yourself.

14 Leave room for the candidate’s questions 

An interview involves two people – dominating the entire conversation can leave a bad impression of your organization. Instead, give the candidate time to ask their own questions about the company. These questions could concern employee benefits, workplace culture, and other important details. Or maybe they’re more job-specific. You’ll never know if you don’t let them ask. And these questions are way better to get on the table now than after you hire someone.

15 Be clear about the next steps

You’ll typically cover next steps at the end of an interview to make sure the candidate knows how to follow up and keep in touch. Most importantly, you should tell the candidate when they should expect to hear back from you. That doesn’t mean you have to reach out to people whom you’re not hiring. Instead, it gives candidates the common courtesy of knowing to schedule interviews with other companies after a certain date. And that’s important in case you want to stay on good terms with them for future openings.

16 Ask other team members what they think

In many cases, a new hire will be working alongside an established team. The people on this team will know especially well which skills, behaviors, and qualifications will help a candidate excel in the role. You could ask your teams which types of employees would ideally fill the position or schedule candidates for a second interview with your teams.  

17 Follow up with each candidate 

Once you’ve chosen someone to hire, you should try your best to inform the other applicants of your decision. It’s only polite, it’ll only take a short email on your part, and it will spare them wondering whether or not they got the job. Plus, it keeps you in the candidate’s good graces should your hire not work out or if another position opens. And that makes the life of any hiring manager so much easier.

Free interview templates

Get the right people in the right places

Hiring great employees isn’t an exact science. That said, with the right preparation, good questions, and these hiring manager tips, you’ll have the best chance possible of finding a great employee.  And if you want further to improve your hiring skills, Fellow can help. Fellow’s meeting management features can help you hold great interviews and take careful notes on candidates’ responses. You’ll make more accurate hiring decisions while taking notes on your own performance – it’s the key to long-term improvement.