How to Conduct an Effective Employee Interview
A job interview is the first part of hiring and keeping good workers. Asking the right questions makes you as a manager more likely to select the best candidate for the job. If you don’t have good interviewing skills, you may end up offering a job to someone who is a poor fit for the job or the company. Competition abounds for skilled and talented workers. Therefore, hiring qualified employees has become both an art as well as a science. You must be a good listener, which means knowing how to reframe or redirect a conversation. In addition, you must be able to distinguish between people who want the job and the perfect candidate for the job. Despite the economic volatility of the past few years, conducting a successful interview can help you secure the best candidates for the job. The following tips may help you with the screening process:
Before the interview:
- Prepare. Although it seems obvious, many hiring managers do not familiarize themselves with a candidate’s resume and other paperwork before the interview. Not being familiar with a candidate’s information is not only rude, but also indicates to the candidate that you are disorganized and poorly prepared.
- Create a script. Having several questions prepared beforehand is very valuable. In fact, many human resources departments have prepared sets of questions that can be used as a guide. Even though you are busy (aren’t all managers?), it is very important to ask both open-ended questions as well as those that require detailed responses. For example, it is fine to ask what led the candidate to apply to the position. However, you may learn more from questions like, “Give me an example of when you had trouble meeting a deadline. How did you handle it?” Try to ask a mix of questions to gain insights into the candidates’ behavior, opinions, experience, and backgrounds. Your goal for the interview is to leave the room with a good sense of the candidate’s strengths, weaknesses, likes, and dislikes.
- Know what you’re looking for. Be clear on the skill-set required for the position to avoid asking irrelevant questions and confusing the candidate. Making a list can help you ask pointed questions. When the candidate leaves the interview, he or she should have a sense of whether they would be a good fit for the job.
During the interview:
- Set the tone. Tell the candidates that you are glad to meet them and express your appreciation that they have come in for the interview. Use this time also to explain the interview procedure – and then follow that format as closely as you can.
- Manage your time. Do your best to stick with the schedule set aside for the meeting. However, you should be prepared to jump straight to the conclusion questions if the candidate is not qualified. There is no point wasting either of your time if the candidate is not a good match for the job.
- Listen to your instincts. Some candidates seem too good to be true, while others seem to lack the skills you need. As you assess the interview, be honest about your interviewing performance as well as the candidate’s performance. It may be that you need to pose more pointed questions or ask about different experiences. However, that said, a person’s ability to do a job will not change, no matter what questions you ask.
- Don’t forget that you are being interviewed as well. You must be aware of the impression you are making on the candidate. You are trying to sell yourself, the company, and the job to the candidates just as they are selling themselves to you. Be ready to talk about the company and the position. The more you know, the better, since the candidates will depend on you to educate them.
After the interview:
- Write it down. No matter what you think, you will not remember everything that is said during an interview. Take notes so that your memory will be triggered when it’s time to review the meeting. The more people you interview for the position, the more important note-taking becomes.
Following these simple steps will help you make accurate decisions when hiring a new employee. More often than not, the person you end up hiring will fit both the job and the company, not just one or the other.
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