Last week I discussed tips for interviews, from preparation to effective communication. This week I am looking at an interview from the point of view of the employer. While some business owners are masters in an interview through experience down the years, others find the process difficult. This is completely understandable given a person’s skill set as a business owner may not include this important HR function. Take the example of a mechanic seeking a new apprentice. He may be excellent with vehicles, but this doesn’t make him a natural at hiring. I have been privy to some bad interviews and many of them can be attributed to lack of knowledge of the process. Here are some tips on how to conduct an effective interview, thus having the best chance at obtaining the right staff member.
It is important to have some questions prepared. Have a good think about the job you are recruiting for and reflect on issues that have cropped up in this role in the past. Perhaps previous employees demonstrated characteristics and skills that resolved these issues, or even made them worse. By zoning in on the job functions, you can better equip yourself with an understanding of the person that you want to hire. A good one to ask is “Why do you want to leave your current employment?” This question can weed out past relationship issues with team members, and if it is a habitual reason for moving on from roles, then this person may not have the best people skills or coping mechanisms.
Recruit Hard, Manage Soft
Sorry softies, this is going to be the tough part for you. By recruiting more ruthlessly, you are reducing the likelihood of having to micro manage or even replace staff later. I recently sat in on an interview panel, which consisted of a regional manager and team leader. I was shocked at their very soft approach in the meeting. The candidate didn’t really answer the questions effectively, and I was very unsure as to her capabilities of fulfilling the role requirements. The other 2 on the panel had different ideas it seemed. They didn’t delve into her ambiguous answers, and the heaped praise on her throughout. In the end, they offered her the job. While I am not for a second suggesting that an effective interview needs to be an uncomfortable one, I am saying that it is OK to politely challenge your candidate. Throw some curveballs their way; certainly, don’t make the process too easy by allowing one worded answers. By quizzing the candidates and doling out some difficult questions, you are really putting them to the test. Most work places come with some stress, so testing their ability to deal with pressure in an interview will save some time later trying to performance manage them for inefficiencies. Also, once you are safe in the knowledge that you have hired the right person, you can become cool boss.
It is a good idea to give your candidate a walk around. You can tell a lot from someone’s body language. Show them where they would be working and ascertain their thoughts on the space. In some instances, if possible, you could organise a job preview; a couple of hours where they can shadow another worker to see what the working day is like. By giving them an opportunity to see the environment, you are allowing them to choose if your organisation is the right fit for them. Hopefully this will eliminate some staff turnover and that dreaded reason often given to employers that “the job wasn’t what I expected”. A job preview will obviously be for those who make it past first interview stage, as it would be a costly exercise to do with every candidate.
Let Them Talk
Make sure that you give your candidate ample time to answers questions, and as difficult as it can be, try to just let awkward silences be. It can be tempting to jump in and save your interviewee when they struggle to get the words out, but endeavour to let them finish. If they appear very uncomfortable, perhaps prompt, but only a little.
If your candidate has not been successful, make sure that you follow up, even by email. Remember, they have invested their time in meeting you, so it is polite to show them the same respect. It is also a poor reflection of your business to not follow up, and a disgruntled candidate will all too happily share their bad experience with friends!
Hopefully these tips will help you on your next interview, and as always, we want to hear your thoughts. Have we missed anything? Please let us know!