Most candidates spend a lot of time preparing themselves for their job interviews. It is every bit as important, however, for Hiring Managers to do the same. Lack of preparation can lead to a situation where you finish a day of interviews, and still don’t know which candidate is best suited for the position.
Here are some guidelines for how to manage a successful interview:
1. Find the right setting. It’s important to use a quiet, private room without any distractions. You only have a short time to get to know each candidate, so you need to make it count. If other people are passing by, or taking phone calls in the area, then neither you nor the candidates will be at their best. Your company will also appear more professional for the candidates if you treat them as an honored guest who has your full attention.
2. Prepare the right questions. Research the complete requirements of the position for which you are interviewing. Familiarize yourself with the computer programs that the new employees will need to know, as well as the working environment they will need to operate in. Some candidates might be exceptionally talented, and come across very well in an interview setting, but you still need to be sure that have the precise set of skills that the position requires.
3. Ask them to respond to tricky situations. Candidates have already prepared for the basic set of questions they are likely to receive. But real job performance often depends on finding solutions that aren’t always obvious. Consider, for example, the following case: “One of the staff members working under you is consistently coming late, but he produces the best work on your team. It has been brought to your attention that this staff member believes he can come in whenever he wants because he is delivering the best results. What do you do in this situation?” Managers deal with situations like these in every office, and it’s important to know how your candidates will resolve them.
4. Let them talk. It’s certainly important to describe your company in detail, and the key points surrounding the position for which you are interviewing. But the essential purpose of an interview is for you to get a feel for each candidate. Ask the right open-ended questions and listen carefully to what they have to say. Their answers can be revealing – particularly if you ask them to describe their previous supervisor, or the team they worked with in their most recent job. Such questions allow you to move past their pre-rehearsed answers, and hear what they really think.
5. Test their business skills. If they are interviewing for a writing position, give them a writing test. If they are in sales, ask them to sell you something. A CV can give you an idea of each candidate’s background, but it’s nothing compared to a concrete demonstration of what they can really do.
These guidelines, accompanied by good note-taking, can be incredibly helpful in separating the qualified candidates from the ones that aren’t quite ready yet. Your task as Hiring Manager is to choose your future colleagues, and the approach outlined above can help you ensure that you build a strong and competent team for the years to come.