As a leader, you may be required to interview prospective employees – whether just once or on a regular basis. And though you have undoubtedly been interviewed in the past, the process of being the interviewer is quite different. One of the few pieces of advice that always works for both the interviewer and the interviewee is to be prepared.
Laying an organized foundation for the interview procedure will make the entire process much more streamlined. It’s vital to begin long before the actual interview. Attracting the right candidates in the first place is key. Having policies and procedures in place is an integral part when developing a structured interview process that is the same for all candidates. This will ensure equal treatment of all job applicants. Create a uniform interviewing procedure that each applicant – and interviewer – must follow. This makes it possible to evaluate each candidate fairly and consistently. The procedure not only aids in finding the most qualified candidate for a position, but it also has a big impact on how your team or company is perceived.
Before the interview, review the candidate’s résumé and any notes so you have some relevant info to draw on. Notes can include additional questions you might have once you’ve reviewed their résumé, including being curious about their having attended a particular school, being previously employed at a specific company, or working with a mutual acquaintance.
It’s also critical to prepare a list of questions in advance, including situational (based on hypothetical events) and behavioral (based on prior experiences) questions. Some leaders create a spreadsheet that they refer to during the interview, but you get to decide what works best for you.
Asking open-ended questions is a practice designed to discover how well interviewees will fit into your business structure. A few examples include:
- “What management style helps you do your best work?”
- “What’s the most important thing you need in your work environment for you to be successful?”
- “When you work on a team, which role are you most comfortable with?”
While it’s illegal for an employer to make any employment decision because of a person’s race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, or genetic information, there are still many questions that you can ask during an interview to determine if an applicant might be a good fit for your business.
Active listening is extremely important, but especially when interviewing. Pay attention to non-verbal cues such as body language and tone of voice, as well as dress and personal grooming. If a prospective employee shows up to an interview in clothing that is wholly inappropriate for the position (e.g., flip flops and tropical shirt over cargo shorts for a management position) or they are otherwise obviously unprepared for the interview, they may be implying they do not take the interview – or the job – seriously.
Note also if they have done their homework about your company. Do they appear knowledgeable about your products or services? Do they ask relevant questions about the work involved? Interested job candidates will have taken the time to familiarize themselves with what you offer.
Although it seems obvious to evaluate a candidate’s technical skills when determining their viability as a future team member, it’s also incredibly important to assess soft skills. Things like how they communicate, their level of flexibility, and their emotional intelligence frequently have a big impact on a candidate’s ability to succeed in a position and fit in with the team. Will they add to your company culture or clash with it? Assessing cultural fit is vital and looking at each candidate holistically is a good way to accomplish this.
In order for leaders to conduct interviews effectively, there are several actions they should take to hire dedicated, loyal, motivated employees. Interviewing like a boss is a skill that leaders can and should continually refine. If you need guidance to successfully interview job candidates, I would be happy to discuss how I have achieved this with my clients.