When interviewing potential candidates, keep in mind that candidates are evaluating you just as much as you are evaluating them. The marketplace has changed, quality candidates with a proven track-record of bottom-line impact are difficult to find. When they decide to make a career move, they are looking for a company where they can be successful. And chances are, they are looking at more than one. You really have a small window to make a good impression with a potential hire. To make the most of that short window, try these following tips:
Make sure you look over the candidates resume before the interview. When we get busy we tend to forget the most obvious things. You have got to put some prep time into the interview. When you do this, it shows. When you don’t, they know. Candidates recognize when you’re glancing at their resume for the first time and frankly, this shows a lack of interest in them; something they assume will continue if they accept an offer.
Jot down questions on their resume to relate their experience to your needs. As you are reviewing the resume, jot down questions to ask about their experience as it relates to your job requirements. For example, if they have prepared financial statements in the past and your position requires consolidating 4 subs into the financial statements, ask them if they have done that type of consolidation before.
Be Professional and Courteous. Make sure you are on time and focused on the candidate. Don’t take phone calls, answer e-mails or anything else that will distract your attention. You may even turn off your computer monitor. Meet them in the reception area; don’t have someone walk them into your office. Offer them coffee, a glass of water or a soda. You can also give them a tour of the office or facility, introduce them to others in the office or plant. All of these thing make them feel comfortable and welcome.
Create a format for the interview and outline it for the candidate early. To start the interview, briefly describe the interview outline. I suggest using this as a rough format: 1) Give them a summary of the company, the future, the job responsibilities and how the position will contribute to the future growth. This should take less than 5 minutes. 2) Work through your questions, both about their technical skills and the behavior-style questions covered next. 3) Leave time for them to ask questions. They should get at least 10 minutes and, hopefully, as much as 20 for their questions. If they have no questions, that should be a big red flag. This format will keep you both focused and on the same page throughout the process.
Use Behavior-Oriented Questions. Behavior style questions are those in which a respondent gives detailed examples of when they used a behavior. The questions usually begin with “Tell Me About A Time…”. Look for specific examples of the type of behavior you are targeting. The more specific, the better. If they respond rather quickly with specific examples that is a good indicator they actually possess those attributes. Past performance is indicative of future results.
Observe the 80/20 Rule. Interviewers should typically only speak about 20% of the time. The candidate should be speaking the rest of the time. Use good listening skills to dig out the important attributes, behaviors and values. Good listening skills include; repeating back information to ensure you heard it right, asking clarifying questions, maintaining eye contact and avoiding crossing your arms.
Close the Interview. Thank the candidate for their time, be honest about the interview process and what the next steps will be. Be clear about who will communicate the decision to them and when.
Make certain there is closure. Closing out potential candidates is widely regarded as the biggest indicator of a company’s integrity and commitment to people. You have got to bring closure to those candidates that didn’t make the cut. You respected their background enough to speak with them, they took time off from work to meet with you; it is critical you bring closure to the process. You can do this through e-mail, but a phone call is more professional.