Top notch interview tips for your next hire

1.    Start with the job description. All questions you ask must revolve around the candidate’s ability to do the job.

2.    Figure out their “soft skills.” Behavioral Interviewing does just that – by the questions you ask, you can determine an individual’s competencies and strengths. You’ll find some generally recommended questions below.

3.    Be consistent. Ask all candidates for the same job the same/similar questions. (Behavioral Interviewing enables you to clarify and probe specifics of an individual’s answers but you want to keep the basis of the interview the same across the search.) Document your comments, positive and negative, and evaluate the individual candidate against the competencies immediately following the interview. You’ll be surprised how all the candidates will meld together as you do more recruiting!

4.    Use open-ended questions to get the candidate talking.

5.    Use closed questions to clarify and probe their answers if/when necessary. They should do about 80% of the talking.

6.    RELAX. Your candidate is nervous too – there’s no harm in letting them know that YOU are nervous; in fact, that’s a good way to break the ice. You are just having a conversation about your professional likes and dislikes. (They get to do most of the talking so that should help set you at ease.)

The Interview

1.    Ice breakers: Ask one or two questions: How was your trip? Did you have any trouble finding the meeting site? Can I get you something to drink?

2.    Explain the format. We’re going to have a conversation about our needs and your abilities. Please think of it just as a professional discussion among colleagues. After that, you’ll have an opportunity to ask any questions you might have and then we’ll talk about the next steps.

3.    Ask your first prepared question.

Sample Questions

  1. Tell me about your last work assignment. What did you like most/least? Why?

    • Listen for the detail/lack of detail they provide
    • Are they talking in chronological order

  1. What was your favorite/least favorite work assignment? Why?

    • Demonstrates what will/will not motivate them

  1. How would your co-workers describe you?

    • Describes how THEY think others see them

  1. What did your supervisor recommend you improve upon? Did you agree?

    • Can they acknowledge weakness in a positive manner

  1. If you could create the ideal work environment/job/boss…what would it look like…?

    • Is this a match for what you offer

  1. Why did you choose your profession?

    • What thought process went into their decision

  1. What do you believe is the most valuable lesson you have learned at work?

    • Will show what is valuable to them

  1. Tell me about a time when you made a mistake on a project/assignment.

    • Again, can they turn this into a positive…did they use common sense/good judgment in working through the problem

  1. Describe your proudest work accomplishment.

    • Again, what motivates them

  1. You’ve seen the job description (assuming they have). Why are you qualified for this job?

    • Where do they see the fit

Their questions

1.    Be prepared for almost anything including the “I really don’t have any right now.” Please note, this demonstrates a lack of interest in the job/opportunity/company/interviewer – even if they are ultra nervous.

2.    Be honest. If they ask a question that you don’t have an answer to, tell them the truth – we haven’t considered that or I’ll let you know.

3.    Remain open. Offer your business card and open the door for them to contact you in the next day or so if they think of anything else.

4.    Avoid pay and benefit questions by simply stating it’s too soon in the process to discuss that topic, but you will be fair should you make an offer.

Closing the interview

1.    Tell the candidate the next step.

2.    Debrief. Immediately after the candidate leaves, document your thoughts (job related) with supporting information and examples from their responses. For example: the candidate was not well organized – he dropped his resume on the floor and skipped around when discussing his professional experience.

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