Four Easy Steps to Becoming an Expert Interviewer

By: Leslie Stevens-Huffman

Engineering managers expect candidates to come prepared to interviews, but did you know that managers have a similar mandate? While you’re evaluating a contractor, they’re evaluating you.

A candidate’s interview experience strongly influences their opinion of you and your firm based on the results of a recent survey. Nearly 8 in 10 professionals said they would turn down a job due to a poor overall interview experience and 95 percent would tell others about their experience.

Group Interviewing Contract Engineers

Suffice it to say that how an engineer is treated during an interview can be the deciding factor if he or she is weighing several offers. Here’s how to create a positive and lasting impression.

Prepare and Organize

Being organized will help you relax, focus, practice active listening, remain objective and select the most qualified contractor.

Compare the contractor’s work history to the scope of work and job requirements and jot down some questions you want to ask. Knowing the areas you want to explore, and conveying those in advance, will set the stage for a highly productive information exchange. Furthermore, an engineer may opt out once they fully understand the specs; saving everyone time and effort.

A semi-structured format provides a flexible framework that will keep the discussion on track while encouraging a two-way conversation and rapport building.

If the engineer will be meeting with other members of your engineering team, circulate his or her resume, set up a schedule and divvy-up the interviewing topics. This will ensure that each interviewer uncovers new information and save the candidate the frustration of having to retrace old ground. And as a) time is of the essence and b) memories wane, create a formal process to rate each contractor as soon as the interviews conclude.

Create a Positive Atmosphere

Nothing’s more unnerving than being ousted from a conference room in the middle of an interview. Put the engineer at ease by reserving a quiet, private location, where both parties can speak openly and freely during the allotted time. Turn off your phone and email, be on time and give the contractor your undivided attention.

Remember, your attitude and actions have a direct impact on the engineer’s level of comfort and impressions of your firm. Exhibit positive body language and avoid facial expressions that convey boredom or skepticism as described in this interviewing guide from CareerBuilder.

Put Yourself in the Contractor’s Shoes

Did you know that interviewing is a two-way street? When done correctly, an interview gives engineering managers and contractors an equal chance to learn more about each other.

Allow plenty of time for the contractor to ask questions about the scope of work, the tools you provide and the culture of your firm. A whopping 78 percent of candidates say it is extremely important to receive a comprehensive overview of the actual role and 58 percent want to be given the time and the opportunity to ask questions before they leave the interview.

Anticipate the contractor’s need for information and be ready to describe your expectations, the ins and outs of your engineering processes, your firm’s goals and other critical information in an open and transparent way. Honestly portraying the challenges and rewards of an engineering assignment will resonate with a veteran contractor. They should walk away from the interview feeling intrigued, motivated and well-informed.

Provide Feedback and Follow-Through

Timely feedback and follow-through are critical to your ability to secure the services of prized contractors. Yet, 60 percent of workers in a CareerBuilder survey say they never heard back from the employer after an interview.

To job seekers, a long recruitment process and a lack of follow-through indicates poor planning, inferior decision making and a bad work environment. In contrast, providing frank and detailed feedback, and sticking to a firm hiring timeline, help to portray a positive image of your firm.

Timely hiring decisions harken back to planning and preparation. If you know what you’re looking for before the interview, and ask relevant questions, you’ll be able to share honest feedback with the contractor, reach a decision and extend an offer pronto. Given the fierce competition, the best contractors won’t wait around. They’ll jump at the chance to work for an engineering manager who impresses them during an interview.


Other information of potential interest

In the Zone! Coaching Engineers to their Personal Best

How to Engineer a Just-in-Time Talent Pool

Engineering Solutions to Today’s Talent Shortage

What to Look for in Contractor Engineering Resumes

What Engineers Really Want from Employers


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