Top 10 Tips for Conducting an Exceptional Interview—UPDATED 2022!
Ready for your interview prep? Let’s do this.
One of the best ways to create content online is to interview someone—a person who complements you and your brand or someone who fills the holes in it.
Although most of the content is generated by the person you are interviewing, most of the responsibility to fashion an interview worth consuming still lies in your hands—and it’s not just about asking the right questions either.
It’s about genuine interest, flow, vibe, sincerity, concern, digging deeper, defining the unclear, attracting stories, avoiding awkwardness, and being conscious about all of that at the same time.
After conducting hundreds of interviews of my own on the SPI Podcast and on my YouTube channel, and being interviewed on many podcasts and YouTube channels, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to conduct a worth-listening-to interview, one that is captivating and full of content that your audience wants to hear.
Remember Who You’re Serving
Although the interview may help you and your brand while at the same time help the person you are interviewing (by giving them exposure to your audience) your number one priority should be to enlighten your audience—to get answers that are meaningful from the person you’re interviewing that can better serve those who will eventually consume that content.
- Understand a little bit about who you’re interviewing first.Sure, you’re conducting an interview to learn more about a person and what they do, but as the interviewer you should know a little bit more than your audience so that you can properly introduce the person and ask the right questions. If you can find an existing interview with the person on another website, that will be helpful too so you can gauge their style and tone, and create questions for that person accordingly.
- Confirm the details of the interview with the person you’re interviewing. This is especially important if you’re interviewing someone in a different timezone. Some things to confirm are:
- Date and time.
- Method of communication. (Zoom, phone call, smoke signals).
- Approximate length of interview.
- Test your recording equipment! Microphone, audio, and Skype settings.
- Prepare a list of questions. See the next tip . . .
2 Leadership-Focused Interview Questions to Ask
Given their critical role in the company, higher salary brackets, and the fact that they’re in hire demand than entry-level staff, hiring leadership-level employees adds an extra dimension of challenge and risk.
“Why are you making a job change right now?”
“Mid-to-upper-level employees are often at a transitional phase in their careers, or at a crossroads of some kind when they come in for an interview. With this in mind, I like to ask questions about that phase, such as why they’re making a change now instead of continuing their career path in their current position or company? What professional passions have they been unable to explore in the past? The higher you are on the corporate ladder, the bigger the risk it is to change jobs. When conducting an interview, I want to hear why that risk feels worth it.”
“What are you looking to accomplish in your career?”
“One solid interview question to ask a job candidate is what they’re hoping to accomplish in the role laid out before them. It can offer deeper insight in several areas. By seeing what a potential employee wants in a career, you can gauge their maturity and their degree of attachment to the company. If a candidate has goals that are aligned with the company’s needs, or they share goals, it could certainly be a sign of good things to come.”
5 Personal Interview Questions to Ask to Get to Know Someone
Jobs aren’t all business. In addition to their professional skills, there’s also a personal element in hiring the right people because they need to be the right personality fit for your team and organization.
“How do you manage deadline pressure?”
In today’s fast-paced professional environment, Dustin Porreca, SEO & Growth Manager at Elevate Demand, believe this is the most important interview question to ask candidates it can be telling about how they’ll handle inevitable busy periods.
“The deadlines for technology-driven projects are frequently very short. So, it can be useful to find out how effectively your potential hire handles pressure. To delve a little deeper, encourage the applicant to provide an example of how they’ve kept a project on schedule when it appeared like it would miss the mark. Or you can ask how the applicant reacted when, despite their best efforts, they were unable to reach a crucial deadline? Their response to this question will be revealing.”
“Do you work better on a team or by yourself?”
“I ask this because, as a primarily remote company, it’s important that our staff is able to work independently but also collaboratively. Most of them will be working from home but much of their work will be tackled in groups. So, they’ll need to be able to communicate well with other staff members. Our company thrives on proper communication, and it’s vital that our team members can connect and get along because we consider our team to be one big, happy family.”
“Other than your family, what are you passionate about?”
Before becoming Co-Founder of GreenPal, Gene Caballero was a hiring manager for a Fortune 500 tech company. And one of his favorite interview questions to ask was intended to get to the core of what matters to candidates.
“Getting the right candidate for the job is paramount in any business and the interview plays a vital point in the hiring process. Finding out what they’re passionate about is vital. Whether it’s their Sunday night bowling league or their son’s Boy Scout group, they need to be passionate about something. If the candidate is not passionate about anything, he/she will not be passionate about working for any company.”
“Can you describe a time when you had to take criticism from a coworker? How did you respond to the criticism?”
“Interviews often concentrate on aspects of a candidate’s job history, such as knowledge, skill level, and experience. But overall likeability can also have a big impact on whether or not a new employee fits in and succeeds. One way to get at this quality is to ask the applicant about times when they might have been put under pressure. How a candidate expresses their response—as well as how they respond to your question—can reveal a lot about how well that person will fit into your company’s culture.”
“Explain something complicated that you understand very well.”
While this might not yield a response that’s directly tied to the role you’re interviewing for, Caitlyn Parish, Chief Digital Officer at Cicinia, believes it’s a valuable interview question to ask because it shows how well people can break down complex ideas and showcases their communications skills.
“This is a great interview question to ask because it helps display how they can break down a very complicated and complex idea or situation to someone else. This is a helpful way to display their critical thinking and communications skills and is also a great way to gauge their passion to learn. A top-tier candidate or future leader can always manage to make difficult concepts simple.”