One of the most important aspects of job interviews is being prepared. However, many hiring managers start job interviews without proper preparation and as a result make expensive hiring mistakes. This article discusses ten interview tips that will help to achieve effective face-to-face job interviews.
1. Candidate Screening. Prior to face-to-face interviews, Candidates should be carefully screened for job requirements, experience, past performance, job tenure and cultural fit in order to use your time and theirs efficiently. Screening includes evaluating resumes and applications and at least two or three telephone interviews.
2. The Job Description that you use should include job requirements that have been demonstrated to correlate with success for the job and your company, rather than based on anecdotal information. Include “soft” job requirements, i.e. attitude, behavior, professionalism, courtesy, appropriate dress, enthusiasm, and energy.
3. Prepare a list of open ended questions, including at least one question relating to each job requirement. After Candidates answer each question, ask probing, follow-up questions, in order to test the accuracy and completeness of their answers. Follow-up questions can be as simple as “why” or “tell me more”. Check each question as you ask it, to avoid skipping or duplicating one.
4. Prepare a score card that includes the questions in one column, a column for numerical scores, i.e. 1 – 5, and a place for the total score. All interviewers should complete score cards for all Candidates. This will provide an objective method to measure and rank Candidates, rather than relying on subjective assessments.
5. Have two or more interviewers. One interviewer should ask questions and the other(s) should take notes. If one of the interviewers is comfortable taking notes in addition to asking questions, that is even better. Hold post-interview meetings during which interviewers share impressions and discuss Candidates’ strengths and weaknesses. These discussions may lead to score card revisions. Record minutes of these sessions.
6. Conduct multiple interviews. Subsequent to each round of interviews, prepare a list of Candidates who will be invited back for additional interviews. Don’t lead Candidates. For example, if interviewing Sales Reps, ask how they pursue an opportunity, rather than asking which sales process they use. If you don’t agree with something that Candidates say, tell them and determine their reaction. Do they moderate their statement or support it?
7. Past performance is the best indicator of future performance. Discuss Candidates’ performance in all prior jobs, or at least in the last three jobs. Ask all questions in the past tense, i.e. “what did you do about”, rather than “what would you do about”? Discuss why Candidates left prior jobs, relationships with supervisors, successes and challenges, and likes and dislikes. This discussion will be very helpful in determining whether Candidates will succeed in the job and with your company.
8. Describe the job and your organization candidly, including the challenges as well as the rewards. Doing so may result in some Candidates withdrawing, but these are Candidates who probably would not be a fit.
9. Always be “interviewing”, even if you don’t have any open positions. Evaluate people at meetings, trade shows, on airplanes, or in social settings as possible hires. If you identify potential Candidates and you don’t have open positions for them, explain that you may be interested in hiring them, but you don’t have an opening at present. Maintain relationships with them until you do.
10. Decline Candidates who do not meet all of your key requirements, rather than continuing to evaluate Candidates who meet some of them. This may result in more interviews than you anticipated, however, recruiting, like fishing, requires patience.
Interviewing is an important management skill. Take the time to learn to be a great interviewer.
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