When hiring a new employee, you need to get it right on the first try. After all, companies spend an average of 3,300 dollars for every new hire. What if you get it wrong? All that money will have been a waste, not to mention the added expenses of replacing a bad fit. Making sure you hire the right person all begins with knowing how to conduct an interview.
When I find an employee who turns out to be wrong for the job, I feel it’s my fault because I made the decision to hire him.Akio Morita, Sony Co-founder
The pressures of a job interview don’t only fall on the applicant. The person giving the interview also faces stress when it comes to getting it right. When looking at job candidates, hiring managers need to have effective interviews that determine the applicant has the right qualifications and is an excellent fit for the organization. On top of that, you want A-players who will flourish in your company.
Poorly conducted interviews can reflect badly on the company as a whole. If done ineffectively, it may also lead to bad hires becoming part of the organization, leading to further problems and dysfunction down the road.
Read on to learn about some helpful tips on how to conduct an interview for a highly sought after job opening.
Preparing for the Interview
The interview process should begin well before the actual interview takes place. Once you know that you need to start hiring for a new position, that’s when the preparation begins. The following tips can help you in the preparation stage as you look for an A-player.
1. Write a Detailed Job Description
When posting the job opening, go into detail about what the job entails. Don’t just put the general requirements and experience you’re looking for. Write down the various duties and responsibilities you expect candidates to handle. Put down the absolute must-have skills you want applicants to have before they start. Don’t worry about skills they can gain through training. A detailed job description can help ensure only the best people apply in the first place.
2. Review Resumes
Take the time to review every resume applicants send in. The last thing you want to do is go into an interview without knowing who is sitting across the desk from you. Get a feel for what they can bring to your organization. Note what kind of experience they have, and think about the types of questions you can ask based on that. As you become familiar with a resume, you’ll become a more effective interviewer.
3. Schedule Enough Time
When scheduling interviews, make sure you set aside enough time. You don’t want to feel rushed while you ask questions and get to know the applicants. It also leaves a bad impression on the candidate if you speed through everything and don’t give them enough time to answer. Determine how much time you feel you need to get everything out of the interview you want, and don’t allow anything to interrupt it.
4. Send Questions in Advance
This is an optional tip but one that can impress applicants. Send your interview questions in advance so candidates can prepare for them. Doing so not only ensures efficient use of interview time, it gives you a good sense of who prepares the best and is taking the interviews seriously. You don’t need to give applicants every question you plan to ask, only the ones you’d like them to know ahead of time.
During the Interviews
Once you’ve read through all the resumes and cover letters and selected who you want to interview, it’s time to move to the next step. Conducting interviews doesn’t have to be complicated, but it can be tricky to get right. The following tips can give you the best chance at having effective interviews that lead to the right person being hired.
5. Keep Things Simple
There’s no need to make the hiring process even more complicated. Keep every element of each interview simple and straightforward. Try to conduct job interviews as a one-on-one conversation, but if you must include others, keep the number small. Don’t allow for potential distractions to clutter up the room, and make sure the candidate feels comfortable.
6. Allow For Introductions
Part of making someone feel comfortable in the first interview is to introduce yourself close to the start. Be warm in your welcome and tell them a bit about yourself and what role you have at the company. First impressions count, so you want to make your first impression one that makes the candidate eager to be part of your company.
7. Check Your Body Language
While you may say all the right things, make sure your body language is welcoming as well. Your nonverbal language can show sincerity and confidence, or it might seem overbearing and critical. Show that you care by following these body language tips:
- Show good posture.
- Make eye contact regularly but not constantly.
- Nod and smile at the candidate’s responses.
- Keep your palms open and inviting.
- Sit still and don’t fidget.
8. Review the Job
While it’s safe to assume that the applicant already read the job description, it can be helpful to go over it one more time in the first interview. While reviewing it, feel free to add anything else you may not have included in the original job description. The further into the interview process you get, the more you can ask specific questions about different aspects of the job and the work you expect new hires to do. This allows you to test their knowledge, which can be key to hiring the best people. Follow the advice of Malcom Forbes when he explained, “Never hire someone who knows less than you do about what he’s hired to do.”
9. Ask Questions About the Applicant’s Resume
Make sure you have the candidate’s resume at hand during each interview. From there, you can ask questions while referencing specific items on it. If the candidate has previous employment experience in a job you find interesting, ask about it and how it can translate to your job opening. Talk about the skills they list or the positions in organizations they’ve held. Show that you paid close attention to their resume and want to know more.
10. Ask Behavioral and Situational Questions
Interview questions come in many types. Two types that you should emphasize are behavioral and situational questions. As outlined by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, these question types help you get a feel for how well a fit an applicant can be at your organization.
A behavioral question looks at past experiences a candidate has had. This may include questions about times they’ve had to deal with angry clients, how they’ve tackled difficult projects in the past, or how they’ve gotten along with coworkers. These questions help you test their decision making skills. A situational question acts like a hypothetical, where you give a potential situation they might encounter at the new job and see what they would do. Make sure to choose a common situation and not something out of the ordinary. Additionally, don’t ask a question for which there is only one right answer. Mix up the two types of questions for a truly effective interview.
With these questions, you can also get a good measure of a person’s personality. As Elon Musk once said, “My biggest mistake is probably weighing too much on someone’s talent and not someone’s personality. I think it matters whether someone has a good heart.”
11. Allow Questions From the Candidate
Interviews aren’t just about you asking the questions. Remember, job candidates want to know if the job is right for them, too. With that in mind, allow time for the applicant to answer questions of their own. Be prepared with honest, direct answers. If you don’t know the answer, freely say so. As candidates ask questions and get answers, they’ll have a better idea if they will fit in with the rest of the company.
12. Take Notes
While conducting interviews, make sure you take notes on how the candidate responds. If you’re interviewing numerous candidates, it can sometimes be challenging to remember every answer they give. Taking notes also acts as an indication to the interviewee that you’re paying attention and actively interested in what they have to say. Combining taking notes with making eye contact can keep you engaged at every point of an interview.
13. Look for the Right Traits
When interviewing prospects, don’t just pay attention to the words they say of their qualifications. Look at how they act, and make note of how they answer. You’re looking for a great fit for your organization, and that means finding people with personality traits you want to include. Look for someone with humility, who doesn’t boast about their accomplishments. A humble person credits everyone who helped them along the way and rarely brags about doing things singlehandedly. You may also look for someone who doesn’t feel entitled to perks and rewards but understands they have to work for it. At the same time, find someone who shows excitement working for your company and has an eagerness to grow and learn.
You also need to look for attributes most commonly found in A-players. These are people with a clear vision for their life, who take responsibility when it matters and want to constantly improve. Steve Jobs spoke about the importance of A-players when he said, “I noticed that the dynamic range between what an average person could accomplish and what the best person could accomplish was 50 or 100 to 1. Given that, you’re well advised to go after the cream of the cream. A small team of A+ players can run circles around a giant team of B and C players.”
14. Use a Screening Process
Don’t expect to cover everything you want in only one interview. The first couple of interviews can act as a sort of screening process. As Sarah Kennedy Munsell, former Head of People & Recruiting at Ancient Nutrition, explains, the first interviews should take a “30,000 foot view” of the candidate, discussing background, experience, and interests. This acts as an overview of the prospect. If at any point during these initial interviews you feel the candidate isn’t the right choice, there’s nothing wrong with not advancing them on to the next round. This ensures only the best candidates make it to the more in-depth interviews where you test their hard skills.
Make Your Next Hire a Success
Job interviews can be the make-or-break moment for both the candidate and the interviewer. Following the above tips will give you the best chance at success with hiring the right person for your team. Show respect by notifying candidates when you will make a decision, then follow through on that timeline. As you conduct effective interviews, you’ll have a good feel for each candidate and be able to pick the right one.
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