Every business leader knows that a company’s greatest asset is its employees. That’s why the job interview is so important. Job candidates might feel nervous about stepping into the interview room, but you have a lot on the line too! You’ve got to figure out if this person has the skills, expertise, and personality to succeed in the role. Keep in mind that this person will ideally climb the ranks of the company. You aren’t just hiring someone for the current position; you could be hiring a future leader!

Feeling a little nervous? Don’t worry. Here are five simple tips that will help you conduct a job interview as if you were a master maestro.

  1. Prepare for the Interview

Even if you weren’t a Boy Scout you can still appreciate their motto, “Be Prepared.” You’re trying to hire someone who will be instrumental in the success of your company, so make sure you give the process its due deference.

Writing on LinkedIn, author Jeff Haden suggests that you “spend twice the time on homework as you do on the interview.” This goes beyond just thoroughly reviewing the candidate’s resume and cover letter. Google the candidate and take a sneak peek on their social media pages to understand their personality and interests. If you’ve never heard of their prior employers, look them up. Use this information to add a few questions to your lineup that are tailored to this job particular job candidate.

The more time and attention you give to the interview before it even starts, the more smoothly it will go (just like when you actually studied for tests when you were in school).

  1. Create a Conversation

You aren’t trying to squeeze a murder conviction out of a job candidate, so stop grilling her like you’re in a cop drama. Yes, you want to learn as much as you can about the candidate, but piling on the questions will hurt that process, not help it.

Ask open-ended questions and allow the job candidate to answer thoroughly. Be ready to ask follow-up questions. Haden explains that “The most revealing answers usually come from follow-up questions.” That’s because your job candidate will have to move beyond pre-planned and practiced answers (he’s prepared too), and think on his feet a little.

  1. Find Out How the Job Candidate Works

We all know someone with a silver tongue who can charm anyone in a room. We all also know the quiet, awkward wall flower who turns out to be the hardest worker of the entire company and who often surprises us with unique and innovative ideas.

Just because someone interviews well doesn’t mean they’ll actually be a great fit for the position (unless you’re hiring salespeople). During the interview it’s imperative to ask questions that help you determine how much a person actually knows and how they would handle the challenges and responsibilities of the open position.

Writing for the Harvard Business Review, Rebecca Knight suggests that you, “explain a problem your team struggles with and ask the candidate to walk you through how she would solve it. Or describe a process your company uses, and ask her to identify inefficiencies.”

You can also create a “real-world” test. Ask a web design candidate to evaluate a beta page you are developing. Ask a customer service rep how he would reply to a set of real complaints you’ve received (make sure to eliminate identifying information). Ask a sales person to pitch you on their current company’s product.

In this way you’ll get to see if your job candidate can “walk the walk.”

  1. Invite Questions

A job interview is a two-way street. You’re not just deciding whether to benevolently bestow a position onto a humble job candidate. The candidate is also assessing you to see if she thinks the position and your company will be a good fit for her goals.

Allow the job candidate to ask questions so that she can get all the information she needs to make the right decision. Resist the temptation to gloss over challenges your company is facing.

After all, if your job candidate did her research, then she already knows about that PR snafu you went through last year. If you tell her that your small startup offers great benefits when you can’t actually afford them or that you allow excellent work-life balance when you’re “all hands on deck,” your job candidate will figure out the truth after about roughly one day of working at your company. Not only will she be disappointed, but she’ll feel betrayed and resentful as well!

On the other hand, if you are honest with a job candidate about what the position really entails, warts and all, then she’ll know exactly what she’s taking on when she accepts.

  1. Listen

You are here to evaluate the job candidate, so allow him to speak. When you listen, you’re not just looking for the candidate to check some imaginary boxes in your head. Try to really understand who he is, how he thinks, and what his goals are for the position and for his career.

Listening also helps you devise strong follow-up questions, which will allow you to develop a deeper understanding of the candidate and press him to speak off the cuff. The best way to listen is to ask open ended questions and then to follow up with questions that start with, “why,” “when,” or “how.”

A job candidate will notice when you really listen and will appreciate your attention. Never forget that you and your company are being interviewed at the same time you are giving the interview!

Finding the best job candidates for a position can be difficult, especially if your human resource department is already overwhelmed with day-to-day responsibilities. If you are looking to fill a position quickly or need help finding a specialized candidate, consider outsourcing your recruitment needs to Arch Resources Group.