4 Traits of a Good Interviewer

How should you conduct an effective interview?  What qualifies as an effective interviewer? These questions beg the ultimate bigger question – What are the traits of a good interviewer? 

Interviews are sometimes likened to a treasure hunt for finding the perfect pearl to fit your team. Whether you’re new to hiring or a seasoned pro, mastering interviews is akin to learning a dance—it’s about communicating well, paying attention, and genuinely caring about the person you’re speaking with. Remember if you are a good Interviewer, your interviewee should walk out at the end of the interview process with a positive impression of your Employer brand. 

Let’s dive right into the fundamentals of how to conduct a good interview, covering everything from interview techniques and questions to setting the right atmosphere from the get-go, ensuring that the entire hiring process is not just productive, but also friendly and enjoyable.

Heading to conduct a job interview soon? Read our 10 expert interview tips here to ace it!

1. Setting the Right Atmosphere

Creating the right atmosphere for a job interview is crucial for helping candidates feel comfortable and open. Your body language, tone, and overall demeanor play an essential role in setting the tone for the interview.

Warm Greetings and Introductions

Start by warmly greeting the candidate with a smile and a firm handshake if in person, or a friendly wave and verbal greeting if virtual. Introduce yourself clearly, stating your name and position within the company. This initial interaction can help break the ice and set a positive tone for the rest of the interview.

Creating a Comfortable Space

Offer the candidate a seat in a quiet, comfortable space free from distractions. Ensure that the room is well-lit and at a comfortable temperature. The seating arrangement should be conducive to conversation, avoiding barriers like large desks. If conducting a virtual interview, ensure a professional and distraction-free environment. Make sure your background is tidy, and you are in a quiet space where you can be heard clearly. Test your technology beforehand to avoid any awkward silences or technical issues.

Maintaining a Friendly and Professional Demeanor

Throughout the interview, maintain a friendly yet professional demeanor. Smile, make eye contact, and use open body language to make the candidate feel at ease. Encourage candidates to relax and be themselves by engaging in light, appropriate small talk at the beginning of the interview.

2. Guiding & Listening  

Balancing the flow of conversation while listening carefully is key. As an effective interviewer, you guide the chat by asking relevant questions and keeping things on track. This is another key point of how you should conduct interviews.

But it’s just as crucial to really hear what the candidate has to say, an interview skill that not many hiring managers are able to master. Some interviewers are impatient and may even finish sentences for the interviewees.  This is not a good practice and if done several times, the interviewee may think that you are presumptuous and not allowing free-flow.  Trying not to take control of the conversation is a good trait of a good interviewer.  A good interviewer guides the question and practices listening.  You can listen to the context and not just what is said, listen to what is not said and how it was said.  If it was a painful experience, watch out for the cues of facial expression. Demonstrate empathy or simple body language of acknowledging the pain by nodding.  

Give them space to share their thoughts and experiences fully by asking open ended questions.  Pay attention to their answers, ask follow-up questions, and tune in to any cues they give. This balance helps the interviewee stay focused and allows the interviewee to facilitate his thinking process.  Avoid grinning and commenting or making facial grimaces as it distracts the interviewee and probably he will stop short of his sharing further.   

3. The Art of Questioning

The art of interviewing is to focus on the technical and soft competencies.  This is an important interview technique. This means an objective evaluation of the technical fit as well as the soft skills ( KSA ) required on the job.  Knowledge, Skill and Attributes to perform effectively on the job.  Every job will have a combination of technical and soft competencies.  Job A and Job B will be a different set of competencies. 

Plan the interview to focus on both categories.  Don’t just focus on the technical competencies. Check for the soft skills, for example if it is a sales role don’t just focus on product knowledge, domain knowledge. Soft skills such as “Drive for Results” and “Tenacity” are important soft competencies especially if you are intending the sales person to open new markets for you.  Ask competency based questions on “Drive for Results” and examples how he has opened new markets before and what time frames did he do it? Did he persevere ? How did he motivate himself during those trying periods? 

Plan your interview well.  If you need a second opinion, arrange for another interviewer. But maxed it at 2 rounds.  In reality, multiple rounds of interviews like 3 rounds or more are not necessary if you are asking the same questions by different persons.  Don’t get the candidate into interview fatigue syndrome. It is stressful and creates a bad impression of the company.

Great interviewers are able to use competency-based interviews to sieve this out.

Competency-based interviews delve into specific aspects of the role, such as asking about past projects or experiences that demonstrate proficiency in key areas. By exploring how a candidate’s skills and background match up with the responsibilities of the position, you can determine whether they have the right expertise to excel in the role and contribute positively to the team. 

Motivation Fit

Asking motivation fit questions is like peering into the engine of a car—you want to see if everything’s running smoothly. Motivation fit is looking into the willingness of the individual and what drives him and what does not.  

It all boils down to asking the right questions – motivational, job and organisational.

These questions delve into what truly drives a candidate, uncovering their push and pull factors—the reasons they’re drawn to a role and what might keep them engaged. 

By understanding a candidate’s motivations, you can gauge whether their goals align with the job’s demands and the company’s culture. 

For example, you might ask what excites them about the position or what long-term goals they hope to achieve (pull) and if there is anything in their current company they do not particularly like (push). 

This insight helps ensure that the candidate isn’t just a good match on paper but genuinely enthusiastic and committed to the role, fostering long-term satisfaction and success.

Job Fit 

This is the bread and butter of most interviews, and yet most hiring managers are still unable to get it right. 

This alignment between the candidate’s abilities and the job’s requirements lays the groundwork for a successful hire and sets the stage for mutual growth and achievement.

For example a travelling job will require a willingness to travel. Hence, a person who may not enjoy travelling  will not fit a role that does. Or may be at that life stage that does not allow him or her to do so perhaps family infrastructure is not there to support a heavy travelling role so therefore we try to make it very clear as a qualification factor and a eliminator that helps you create a quick short list of candidates who are willing to do so. 

Organisational Fit 

When assessing candidates for their ‘vibes’ with the company, it’s crucial to consider cultural fit questions. 

For instance, as a generalisation,  Korean and Japanese teams often value respect and collaboration, while American firms may prioritize assertiveness and speaking your mind.

Having a mismatch of culture may not be a mistake that you want to make.  Therefore, be an effective interviewer, check for culture fit where the candidates had proven experiences or are willing to pick new cultural nuances or have the ability to adapt or are respectful of these nuances.  If innately they are not agreeable to these nuances, you can highlight these are the behaviours that are valued in your organisation. For example being able to speak-out and affirm others, and if candidates are not comfortable with that, they will also self-select out. 

Soft skills like communication play a big role here. Questions might focus on how candidates handle teamwork and display communication skills and problem solving in different cultural settings. 

Finding someone who fits both the job requirements and the company culture ensures they’ll thrive and contribute positively to the team.


4. Open mind 

Approaching interviews with an open mind is crucial to ensuring fairness and objectivity

It’s essential to avoid both conscious and unconscious biases, which can unfairly impact evaluations. Unfortunately, some interviewers may enter the process with preconceived notions, effectively denying candidates a fair chance. This closed-minded approach contradicts the principles of fair assessment and can lead to missed opportunities for talented individuals. 

Instead, interviewers should aim to eliminate biases and judge candidates solely on their merits, considering factors like job fit, cultural fit, and soft skills. 

By doing so, they create an environment where every candidate has an equal opportunity to succeed, ultimately leading to better hiring decisions and a more diverse and inclusive workplace.


Mastering effective interview skill may not be easy. However, doing so will allow you to find the job candidate who is a good fit for the company, 

Becoming a good interviewer is a journey that requires continuous learning and refinement of skills.

If you are still stuck with coming up with questions  to ask at interviews, you can read our top 10 interview questions to ask.

Remember, the traits of a good interviewer extend beyond technical proficiency; they encompass empathy, integrity, and a genuine commitment to finding the right fit for both the candidate and the organization.

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