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Hiring Managers: How To Interview

As a candidate, you’ll know that for every interview you go on you (should) prepare. You block out time to research the company, research the person you’ll be meeting, prepare questions and answers. But so often, the same courtesy isn’t given by the other person in that room or Teams call – the interviewer.

Hiring is a stressful process - posting ads, reviewing (and rejecting) profiles and proceeding to arrange conversations. But so many people haven’t had any training on the actual interviewing process, and it is a skill. A muscle that you work and build up, and so often people assume it’s not a learned skill. It most definitely is!

Here are some tips for anyone that is now or will be in a hiring position. These will ensure you set yourself (and the person you are interviewing) up for success and a positive experience, because even if they’re not right for your role, having a positive experience is essential.

  1. Know your company

This sounds obvious - you work there so obviously you know the company? Sure, but there is so much more. Sit down with your Leadership team / CEO / Head of HR to understand “the sell”. What language to be used, correct phrases and words along with success metrics and areas of growth / challenges which you shouldn’t shy away from. People want to know what they’ll be potentially walking in to, so being transparent early on is key.

  1. Know the role

Again, this sounds obvious, but really knowing the role and being able to concisely explain it is essential. Describe where the role has come from (new / replacement), what this person will be doing on a day-to-day, but also what you would hope them to achieve by month 3, 6, 12 etc. What support they’ll be given, who they’ll be working with, and what are the challenges of the role. Explain the dynamic of the team, what works and what doesn’t. Make sure you have this written down so you can describe it to every person in the same way.

  1. Know your biases

Everybody has unconscious bias, but it’s about how you can be aware and navigate ways around them. When I was first in a hiring position, I unconsciously asked easier questions of the person I thought was like me, and harder questions to the person with a different personality. I can’t recommend enough that everyone in a hiring position undertakes unconscious bias training, it was a huge eye-opener to me and shaped how I interviewed moving forwards. Consistency is crucial, from how you sell the company to the questions you ask. Even if you don’t immediately feel like the person you’re meeting “is the one”, you have to stick to the process. Ask the right questions, say the right things and give that person the same chance. Evaluate the responses with your manager / HR team to properly assess the results. Diversity of thought, background and experience is essential, and consistency throughout the process gives everyone the same chance to shine.

  1. Know your “culture” and management style

A “great culture” is subjective (hint hint, it’s not a pool table or free snacks). Do you have a culture of self-learning or mostly independent working? Do you work in project teams so need collaborative thinkers? Do you work in a business with lots of working parents who have flexibility? Or is it a super full on early-stage startup requiring a big workload? Do you want someone looking to make friends and have a big social presence that a new person would hopefully be central to? Be transparent with what you can offer, and what you expect from an addition to the team. Your “culture” might not be for everyone, so it's best to be transparent.

  1. Stick to the allocated time

You might be tempted to cut a call short if you don’t feel it’s going well (see point 3 above) or similarly if you think you really hit it off, run over. Candidates have blocked out the time to meet you, and you don’t know what they have before or after the appointment. Be conscious of the clock, and make sure you are respectful of their diaries. If you think you’re running out of time, 5 minutes before the end bring it up, and mention that you’ll be able to continue the conversation again.

  1. Interviews go two ways, don’t forget that

Depending on who you are meeting with, they might have 10 other roles on the go, or none. Make sure you remember that they are interviewing you just as much as you are interviewing them, so allow time for questions. There's nothing worse than spending 40 minutes on a call with someone only to get off the phone and realise that you actually don’t have the information you set out to get. Blocking out a rough interview breakdown (intro into company / intro into role / intro from candidate / questions) can really help make sure you both get out of the conversation what you want.

  1. Be transparent with financials and promotions

I’m over companies (and recruiters) focusing on “getting a bargain”. If someone is qualified, with relevant experience and is a great fit for the role, pay them fairly. You budgeted for the role, so share that. Be transparent about what your bandings are, and the salary structure in the company. How does someone get promoted? How many people got promoted last year? Is this something being revised? Be transparent with the financial logistics of the role, your competitors will be…

  1. Feedback is key

Getting your talent team / recruiter to give feedback to the candidate moving forwards, but simply a “we won’t be moving forwards” to those who aren’t successful is still, in 2024, way too common. People have taken time out of their day to meet with you. They have (hopefully) invested time in preparing. They deserve constructive, honest feedback in a timely manner (days, NOT weeks). Have they done something really well but something else was a little off? If no one tells them, they’ll never improve. Giving negative feedback can be uncomfortable, but that person will thank you when they ace their next interview/s. You’ve got thoughts, so share them. Phone calls are better, but at a push a detailed email is great. The number of candidates who I’ve delivered honest (sometimes quite negative) interview feedback to, who went on to become great hiring managers for me in other jobs is countless. People will thank you for it!

Interviewing is as much a skill needed when you’re the interviewer, and transparency and consistency is key. For any questions on any of the above, or perhaps you have any extra tips on what makes for a great interview I’d love to hear them! Please comment below and share with anyone you think is hiring.

Mantell Associates is a specialist Pharmaceutical and Life Sciences headhunting firm. To find out how we can assist with your business requirements, get in touch with Sophie Packer at +44 (0)20 3854 7700 or