Preparation by the interviewer is the key to successful interview. While you are evaluating the candidate, they are evaluating you. Just like you’d ding the candidate for not doing homework on your company, the candidate will ding you if you do not do your interview homework.
Here are ten tips for how to best interview a potential employee:
- Review the resume and thoroughly prepare your questions before the interview. You should never walk into an interview without first spending 5-15 minutes thinking about the person and the questions you ask.
- Set an agenda for the interview. “We only have 30 minutes for our meeting and here is what I’d like to cover.” Give the person a clear understanding of what you want to get out of the interview. Leave ample time for questions because most mid-career candidates (and 100% of good executives) will come prepared with questions for you.
- Do a problem solving exercise with them. Give them a scenario from your work and ask for their input and advice. For instance, you can ask a potential sales executive: “I’m putting together the sales comp for our different salespeople, how have you designed sales comps in the past? Given what you know about our company, help me design a better sales comp.”
- General bio questions are not great. No need to just ask a question that can be answered from their resume. You can instead ask a probing question about the business metrics in their last company. One question I like to ask about: what a past company they were at could have done differently to be more successful. You might also want to ask the candidates about why they left a particular job.
- Dive into their technical knowledge and learn something. Dive really deep into an expertise area of the candidate. Get them talking about something they are passionate about. Get them to teach you about a new area — have them explain something really complex to you so you learn the basics. I once interviewed a sales guy who was also a chess master — he clearly taught me the core strategy of chess [we hired him]. Even in the scenario where you determine the candidate is not right for the job, at least you learned something.
- Know the flow of who at your company interviewed the candidate before you and who is coming after you. This will give you a sense of how the candidate understands the company and what questions have already been asked.
- Make sure they have a good experience. A surprising number of referrals for other candidates and for customers will come from the candidates you interview. Make sure they have a really good experience.
- Let them do the talking. While you want to clearly answer their questions, make sure the interviewee is doing at least two-thirds of the talking guided by your questions.
- If the candidate is not right, end the interview early. You’re not helping the candidates by wasting their time. If the person is clearly not the right fit, end the interview early so they can use the saved time to pursue other awesome companies.
- Afterwards, input your feedback into your shared hiring system. So that you can gather all the feedback on the interviewee in one place for quick reference and decision-making.
This question originally appeared on Quora: What are important keys to remember when preparing as an interviewer?
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