Hiring Employees: The Interview

July 30, 2009 at 6:00 am Leave a comment

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License

This week, we are discussing the process of hiring employees.  Today, we are going to tackle the interview.  Now, that you’ve narrowed down you choices and have invited your favorite candidates to meet you, what are you going to discuss?  How are you going to interview them?

For me, job hiring and job seeking is all about finding a “match”.  It’s not about filling a position.  It’s not about getting a job.  It’s about ensuring that what I’m getting out of hiring someone is as valuable as what they are getting out of working for my company.  It has to be a “match” or it won’t work.  You’ve done a lot of groundwork in your preparation for the job search, in writing your job ad, and in reviewing resumes.  Now, is time to see if any of these candidates are a true match.

Things to know going into the interview:

  • Have 3-5 key question prepared.  You’ll be asking more than that.  But, these are the questions that are particularly important to you.  The other questions will naturally evolve out of a curiosity.
  • Study their resume beforehand.  You want to make the best use of your time with this person, so be prepared!  You’ll want to ask them about their experience, so make sure you did your homework.
  • Let the conversation flow naturally… like you are having coffee with a vendor you are getting to know.
  • Take notes!  If you have to go back and compare your favorite people, you’ll want to make sure you can distinguish between them.
  • The candidate is naturally going to be nervous.  It’s best to make them comfortable so that you can see what they are really like.  Small talk and general “sharing” helps to establish trust.
  • You are trying to find a match… not someone who is going to solve all the mysteries of life.  You are also looking for someone that you can mentor.  If you can find a good mentee, then much of your employer-employee relationship will be much easier.

Like I said, you’ll need to find 3-5 key questions that are your core “deciders”.  All of your other questions will give you a general feel for who they are.  These 3-5 questions are the “make it or break it” type questions to help you determine if they are a match or not.  They will largely be dependent on your business and the position for which you are hiring.  But, here are some tips…

Things to consider in writing your core interview questions:

  • Think about situations that they encounter while working for you.  For example, invitation assembly can be repetitive and at times tedious.  I want to make sure that people can handle that.  I always ask, “Share with me an experience you had where the work was tedious.  How did you motivate yourself to get the job done?”
  • Ask a problem-solving question.  Every business has issues that can arise out of nowhere.  You want to make that people who work for you can think on their feet and be innovative.  Ask them to give you an example of time when they were faced with an issue and how they resolved it.
  • Ask specifics about their job history (taken from their resume) that interest you.  Ask them to make the link between that job and the job your are offering.
  • Ask them about their customer service and client experience.  Even if they are not interacting with clients face-to-face, everything about our industry is service-related.  They need to have the drive to host and serve others, regardless of where they fall in the process.  Also, an employee who is good with clients is also good with their co-workers.
  • Ask questions to determine whether they are open to learning and good at listening.  You want to ensure that this person is a good mentee.  You want to make sure they are trainable.  Ask questions to judge whether they can take direction or whether it’s their way or the highway.  It’s difficult to mentor someone that doesn’t want to be mentored.

Wrapping it up…

At the end of the interview, you should let them know that you are interviewing a few candidates and will let them know within a couple weeks (or whatever your timeframe is).  Generally, I know during the interview whether I’m going to hire the person or not.  I just have a strong gut feeling about these things.  But, I still hold out to make the offer until I’ve interviewed everyone.  And, I make sure to review my notes.  If you are stuck between a couple candidates, you may want to bring them in for a second round.  Or, have them come into your office for a “test day” and see how they do.

When you have made your decision, give them a call.  I always follow up a verbal offer with one in writing.  (I like to make sure everyone is on the same page and it is good for everyone to see employment terms on paper.)  I also make sure to send rejection letters to people to which I did not make an offer.  (It’s awful to leave them standing, waiting.)

And, there you have it… the hiring of your first… and several more… employees!

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Entry filed under: Human Resources.

Hiring Employees: Cover Letter & Resume Review Insider to Insider: Andrea Porter, Owner of Circle Park Bridal Boutique

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