So, you just got promoted (yay!) and are now managing people for the first time (another yay!).  It’s a great opportunity for anyone to gain people management experience and when you do, you learn a ton not only about others but about yourself.

When you step into your first leadership role, you’ll inevitably be faced with the task of hiring people as well.  Whether it’s hiring someone for your own team, or simply participating in an interview for a role in your dept./division and you’re elected to be on the interview slate.  What’s important in either situation, especially if it’s your first time is knowing how to conduct an effective interview.

There’s no manual on how to perfect an interview and I would confidently say, it’s all about practice, practice, practice!  But there are some best practices you can learn and adopt to ensure you’re starting off on the right foot.  I for one early in my career remember sitting in on interviews as an observer, listening in and it was a great learning opportunity on not only to understand what questions to ask (pertaining to that specific role) but the importance of preparing ahead of time.

Besides, second to being a great leader and leading your high performing team, hiring people will be one of the most important sets of responsibilities you’ll hold in your role.  Too many times, new managers are entering their leadership position with little to no guidance on how to interview and more importantly, how to assess talent.   Having some guidance and structure on what to keep in mind at the offset can be helpful and set you up for success!

Keep in mind your approach may vary depending on if you’re hiring for your team or someone else’s, however the below tips can serve as a great starting point to help you prepare before diving into your first interview as a first-time manager.

  • This may seem obvious; however, be sure to understand the position / scope of the role you’re hiring for AND ensure everyone that’s part of the hiring team is aligned and on the same page on what to look for.  The last thing you want to do is walk into an interview and not be clear on expectations and what you or your team are collectively looking for.  This will allow you to position and customize your questions appropriately.
  • Ask what you want to know. 
    • I can’t stress this one enough.  It’s been my experience, too many hiring managers will draw conclusions or make assumptions based on what a candidate said in passing or a comment they made vs. having asked a specific question.  *Get curious*, ask open-ended questions, learn the story, then form an assessment. 
  • Talk to your boss or other colleagues who have experience interviewing.  
    • You’re likely not the only one going to be interviewing whether for your direct team or someone else’s.  Find out if there’s a structure in place amongst the interviewers on the interview slate.  In some instances, if there are multiple interviewers, each person may focus on assessing a different skill set or component of a candidates background specific to the open position, i.e. one interviewer interviews for technical aptitude, another interviewer focuses on assessing for team or project management skills, etc. etc.
  • Design your questions to learn of a candidate’s WHOLE self vs. just their professional skill set
    • As a first-time manager new to interviewing, this is a great opportunity to develop a best practice of assessing for a candidate’s WHOLE self vs. just their professional background.  Learn to get to know the individual and assess for all skills. 

Remember, interviewing is a practice and a skill to cultivate.  The best thing you can do is prepare, then practice.  The best opportunities to learn are also when you fail, so if you feel as though your first interview doesn’t go as well as you would have liked, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to try again.  Learn from those experiences and apply those learnings to your next interview.

Here are 2 questions I’d love to get your thoughts on. Leave a comment below and share your experience!

What other tips would you add to the above list?

If you’ve gone through this experience before, how did you prepare as an interviewer when you became a manager for the first time?

Stepping into your first people leadership role can be nerve wrecking to say the least, so be brave and share your experience that might just help someone who’s in this very place today.

With so much love ❤,

Lisa xo