How to Recruit - Conducting Better Interviews in Less Time

Written by: Christina Merhar
Originally published on January 29, 2015. Last updated July 9, 2015.

The following is an excerpt from our free resource, The 20 Greatest Recruiting and Retention Tips. If you'd like to download the full resource, click here.

As a small business owner, hiring and interviewing employees is an exciting time. But it can also feel frustrating - the candidates aren’t as good as you’d hoped, you feel unorganized, and it feels like a time-suck. If this describes your interview process, then it’s time for a tune-up. Here are a few small business recruiting ideas to conduct better interviews in less times.Conducting Better Interviews in Less Time

Spend Time with the Most Qualified Candidates

I have to admit there have been times in my career - both as a hiring manager and as a candidate - where I’ve felt like the interview was a waste of time.

As a manager I’ve thought, “Why am I spending time with this person?” As a candidate I’ve thought, “I wish they would have screened me better for this job - I am not a fit.” In both situations, I find myself checking the clock and figuring out a way to end the interview quicker.

So as a hiring manager, what’s the lesson?

Well, ever heard of the 80/20 rule? It applies to hiring as well. Spend your time with the most qualified candidates.

How do you do this?

Develop a consistent interview process that allows you to spend time with the most qualified candidates, and allows you to evaluate candidates for both skill and company fit.

For example, don’t bring in every person who applies. And, don’t even bring in all the candidates who “look good on paper.” Instead, conduct a brief 10-minute phone call to screen all qualified candidates for company fit and basic qualifications. Then, only bring in candidates for an in-person interview after they pass the first screening.

This will save you, and your team members, time. It will allow you to spend the most time with the most qualified candidates.

Evaluate Candidates for Both Skill and Company Fit

A candidate can have all the right skills, but if they don’t fit with your company’s culture, have the right attitude, and believe passionately in your product they are not the right person to help your company succeed. They are not worth spending a lot of time with.

Screen candidates for both skill and company fit early on in the interview process - for example, during the initial phone interview. If they aren’t a skill and culture fit, don’t spend the time bringing them in for an interview.

How do you do this? As you talk to candidates, evaluate them by asking:

  • Will they be motivated by growth and by taking on new opportunities?

  • How will they add to the business in a unique or needed way?

  • Do they represent our company brand and vision?

  • Are they knowledgable about our product or service? Have they done their research?
  • Are they passionate about our product or service?

A Few Interview Tips

In addition to structuring your interviews to spend time with the most qualified candidates and evaluating candidates for both skill and fit, here are more tips for successful interviews:

  • Ask open-ended questions, and use follow up questions to dig deeper

  • Set the tone and control the interview

  • Review the job description, company culture, and benefits

  • Know what you cannot ask (legally)

  • Put candidates to the test with a hands-on exercise

  • Listen, and leave time for questions


Conducting better interviews in less time means screening candidates before you interview them, evaluating candidates for skill and cultural fit, and asking the right questions. Follow these guidelines and you’ll conduct stellar interviews and find the best person for the job.

What are your recruiting or interviewing tips? Leave a comment below.

Originally published on January 29, 2015. Last updated July 9, 2015.


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