Friday, January 16, 2015

How to Interview Potential Employees

by Jenny Tracy

Many of us have been interviewed before; we have rehearsed our elevator pitch and practiced answering the basic interview question, but as an entrepreneur you will need to practice another aspect of interviewing, flipping the role and being the interviewer. Whether you are the owner of a small one-person start up with the goal of growing, the founder of a striving business that needs more employees, or an employee in a managerial or supervisor position within a company that is hiring, you will need to review and know the basics of interviewing.

Here is a cheat sheet for interviewing potential employees:

Be clear and be prompt. Be clear and concise when scheduling the date, time, and location for the interview, and respond as promptly as possible to inquiries and e-mails from the candidates. Taking too long to respond reflects poorly upon your business. If you are having difficulties finding a time or place that works for both you and the interviewee, consider interviewing over the phone or web camera, these are great alternatives that accommodates both parties.

Be on time and be courteous. If you are meeting at a neutral location, aim to arrive 15-20 minutes before the scheduled interview time; definitely don’t be late. If you are meeting at your business or office, be ready when they arrive. Be courteous: Shake their hand and introduce yourself, then offer the candidate a glass of water or coffee, and thank them for meeting with you.

Dress for the part. Today is not the day to wear your most casual outfit. The candidate will be dressed for an interview, and you should be too. If you ever find yourself in an outfit predicament, opt to over dress rather than underdress. A business suit is almost always acceptable interview attire.  

Be prepared. Read through the candidate’s resume before they arrive and refresh yourself on the position you are interviewing for. Be prepared with job-specific questions; it helps to have a page printed out with the questions you would like to ask. It is appropriate to ask 8-15 questions in an interview; any more seems like a bombardment, and any less seems like a waste of the candidates’ time. Here is an article of the 10 best interview questions to ask. If you need more options or question ideas, this article provides 100 common interview questions. Forbes contributor, Louis Efron, suggests that you ask every candidate this question: “When in your life have you been so passionately focused on an activity that you lost track of time and what were you doing?”

Questions you CANNOT ask. There are certain questions that you cannot legally ask during an interview. This is a list of the illegal questions that you may not use and some alternative ways that you can legally rephrase the questions.

Use the STAR method. This is a common method for effectively answering behavioral questions. Before asking behavioral questions, ask the candidate to answer the questions using the STAR method. STAR stands for- Situation (Explain the background and set the scene), Task (What is the Target), Action (What they did), Result (The outcome, what happened). The STAR method ensures that they answer in a way that allows you to follow along and understand their response.

Take Notes. Taking note of the candidates’ responses to your questions is especially helpful when you are interviewing more than one candidate. It will allow you re-read the responses when analyzing the candidates and making your hiring decisions.

Be understanding. Understand that interviewing can be stressful for candidates. To help calm their nerves, express to them that they can take their time answering questions and that they may ask you to repeat or further explain any question throughout the interview.

SHHH! The candidate should speak 70-80% of the time. Don’t make the interview about you, spend majority of the time listening to the candidate to get to know them better and to see if they are a good candidate for the open position.

Do you have any questions that you would like to ask me? Allow the candidate to turn the table and ask you any questions they may have. Although it may be tempting to answer the questions in a casual and laidback manner, remember to stay professional during this final step of the interview; it is often the most memorable part for the interviewee.

After reading this cheat sheet you should now have the knowledge and information necessary to interview candidates that can help your business grow and prosper.

Any other tips? We'd love to hear them

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