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Did you know that most hiring managers have never been taught how to interview a job candidate for a position effectively? Fortunately, the most effective interviewing process is simple, and CML is here to share some of our top tips with you.

How to Interview a Job Candidate

1. Don’t Start Selling Until You Have Decided to Buy

In other words, resist the temptation to begin the interview by telling the job candidate what a great job is being offered and what a great company you have before you have concluded that this is the kind of person you want to hire in the first place.

2. Ask Questions and Listen Carefully

The key to good interviewing is to ask good questions and then listen carefully and patiently to the answers. Allow silences in the conversation for the candidate to reply, don’t immediately fill the silence. You can also ask follow-up questions for clarification and often times you should as this creates a more ‘natural’ conversation, rather than something scripted. Ask “What do you mean?” regularly. Never assume that you know or understand what is said until you have checked to be sure. Always work on the 80/20 principle. As an interviewer, you should speak only 20% of the time.

3. Take Control of the Interview

As a hiring manager, you are the person asking the relevant questions. The more a person talks, the better you will feel about whether they are a good job candidate. And you learn only when you are listening. The goal is to know more about the candidate, not your company.

4. Use the “Swan Formula”

What qualities are you looking for in a candidate? There is a simple formula you can use in an interview. It is called the “Swan Formula” and comes from executive recruiter John Swan; essentially you are looking for someone that ticks the boxes of all of these by the time you leave the interview.

It is based on the letters S-W-A-N. These are the four ingredients you are looking for:

  • Smart
  • Work Hard
  • Ambitious
  • Nice

5. Look for Additional Qualities

First of all, look for achievement or result orientation. When you ask questions, listen for examples from the person’s background where they have enjoyed succeeding and getting results at a previous job. The only accurate predictor of future performance is past performance. Probe this area carefully and demand specifics, not generalities: “What exactly did you do and what results did you get?”

6. Listen for Intelligent Questions

One of the hallmarks of curiosity is that a good candidate will have serious questions, usually written out, that they want to ask about you, the company, the job, opportunities for the future, and so on.

7. Plan Your Interview Ahead of Time

It is always best to be efficient and plan your interview. Make a list of questions that you are going to ask; Build them around the skills and qualities most important to complete the job’s essential tasks. Don’t get caught wondering what you’re going to say next.

Are you looking for more recruitment and interviewing advice or just general assistance in your next hiring project? Get in touch with a member of our recruitment team today at to see how we can make the process easier.


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