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Home » Blog » The Science of taking Interviews- 10 Rules for better hiring
The Science of taking Interviews- 10 Rules for better hiring
Published: Nov-25-2012

Interviews are still the best tool available for assessment, they are still the most frequently used tool for hiring and would continue to be -till we discover artificial intelligence or brain mapping becomes so advanced that people send CT scans for selection rather than waste time to visit you !!! Here are 10 rules to make more scientific decisions while Interviewing 


1. Suspend Judgment for the first 30 minutes ; I know this is a tough thing to do- so start with 15 minutes:-

  • Once you have decided that you like a candidate-  everything the person says which is positive ( for you)  is  amplified
  • Cognitive dissonance is suppressed 
  • And if you are really desperate to hire - you get into a "sale" mode - i.e.. trying to convince the person to join you rather than making an objective call


2. Take Notes - yes you have a great memory, yes you can recall what the person said - but still take notes.

  • What I do is tell the candidate that "I would be taking notes so please do not get distracted".  
  • It helps you to  go back and review objectively- classify your observations- and yes compare notes with other members of the hiring team
  • Notes are also a great learning tool- when you have the opportunity to do a reality check between your observations and the persons performance. 


3. Structure your interviews - Make a list of questions that you may want to ask 

  • The best interviewers not only do this but create a "query tree"- i.e.. what other question to ask if the response is X and what question to ask for response Y.  So for example if a person gives an answer that she has succeeded in a project because she learnt a new framework- your next question should ask how she learnt it- to test personal initiative for learning
  • Structured Interviews are a great tool to compare notes if there are multiple rounds with different interviewers - as it gives you a common platform for comparison


4. Beware of the Halo effect 

  • One great Answer 
  • An assignment or project that is desperately required in your company 
  • One outstanding achievement .... 

Should not overpower your ability to probe more, ask more questions of past work/ other assignments and should definitely not be the only basis of taking a hiring decision


5. The best candidates may not be great at giving interviews

  • Learn how to make a person comfortable- If I am meeting someone who is not very open- I sometimes start the discussion with their hobbies, passions , sports- it warms them up for this discussion and they get over their inertia
  • Conversely remember a lot of people get hired because of their interview giving skills rather than real abilities
  • For certain aspects- drill down , probe, put the pressure on so that you peel away the comfort of familiar answers/ questions


6. Have a list of open ended questions- they can be a fantastic competency check , and also force a person to think and get away from tried and tested answers for example

  • Analytical Skills- If instead of using framework A ; you use Framework B- what would be the problems and advantages ?
  • Problem Identification- Why do you think this worked for company A and not for Company B ?
  • Business Acumen/ Knowledge- What do you think are the issues facing our Industry ?
  • Assertiveness, Communication and Analytical skills- Here is our balance sheet, and a snapshot of the consultants report on low margin Products and Solutions, you have an hour to present to the interview panel a business plan with budgets 


7. Does each member of the hiring team understand what they are hiring for and what competencies and experiences are important for the role ? Different interpretations and different assumptions behind the role may result in widely different evaluations. A best practice is to have a brainstorming   meeting of the hiring panel so that they know what they want and why!


8. Learn to Listen- its a discipline and like any discipline- practice makes perfect. Listening includes verbal and non-verbal cues. 


9. Analytics - Find out the best interviewers in your team- you would be surprised to know who hires the performers and who hires the rest ! . If at middle level you are hiring through the most "available" interviewers rather than the best you are laying a poor foundation for your company. 


10. Gut feel- Its useful only when you do point 1 to 9- otherwise its a lazy organisations/ Persons  sad excuse to hire!. Also gut feel is cognitive dissonance in disguise - so learn to question why you feel that way - it will improve your gut feel too!!


Omar Farooq

Founder and CEO- AceProHR




  • Apr-12-2013
    Good points ..however , these may be valid , In India atleast ,practically for middle -level or lower middle level hirings only (upto 6-8 years exp).Most of the Sr.level hirings in India are through "Networking skills " /"Old boys network" ,stress on number of yrs of experience rather than drilling own to find what competencies have been added and how good that experience is ..sad but true
    Ritesh Shrivastava | Apr-12-2013 11:25 PM
  • Jan-13-2013
    Good One... It would be great if domain specific queries can be also given.
    sushanto patro | Jan-13-2013 09:52 PM
  • Jan-11-2013
    Rules well articulated!!
    Ajay Koul | Jan-11-2013 10:39 PM
  • Dec-13-2012
    Great article with some very valid points
    Sanjoy Ghosh | Dec-13-2012 12:39 AM
  • Nov-26-2012
    Hello Omar, I have done senior level recruitment for my teams for 4-5 years. And I can see where I have done mistakes. Your list is a very good reminder. I intend to read it before my next recruitment drive. Thanks. Mahtab Syed
    Mahtab Syed | Nov-26-2012 01:56 PM

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