Employees are your most valuable company resource. As a manager, you’re responsible for training, motivating, and keeping them. But many managers are also involved in selecting them. Your skill at interviewing plays a vital role in ensuring the right candidate is chosen in the first place.
Preparation is a critical first step in the hiring process. Look closely at the job description (or write one if there isn’t one), and identify qualities needed to perform the requirements of the job. If it’s an existing position, take a look at current employees who have been successful (and unsuccessful) in the role — what common qualities make them effective? A salesperson with too much attention to detail might get mired in the paperwork. A designer who’s extremely creative but who isn’t focused on the customer might not be the best fit.
Develop questions based on the job functions and the qualities you’re looking for. Write the questions down so you can treat each candidate consistently. The interview process often leaves you with two or three outstanding choices, but this consistent treatment will enable you to match responses and be better able to evaluate candidates side by side to make your selection.
When it’s time for the interviews, remember three important things:
- Candidate comfort: The less anxious your candidates are, the more information you will get. Do this by explaining your interview plan, i.e., “First, I’ll tell you a little bit about the company and the job; then I’ll ask you some questions about your work history and experience; and then you’ll have a chance to ask me any questions you might still have.”
- Embrace silence: Candidates need time to process questions. It’s ok if they take 20-30 seconds considering the question. Be patient. Don’t try to fill this void with another question or helpful suggestions.
- 80/20 rule: The candidate should be doing 80 percent of the talking. Guide this by making sure your questions are open ended. Your questions should start with: who, what, when, where, why, how, tell me about …, describe ….
Here are a few questions to add to your list.
- In what ways do you work to make yourself better in your career?
- What motivates you?
- What do you do when you’re working on several projects at the same time?
- Tell me about a successful relationship you’ve had with a customer. How did it become a good relationship to begin with?
- Tell me about a difficult customer you’ve dealt with. What was the problem? What was your role in handling the situation? How did you decide on this course of action?
- What departments did you interact with in your last job? Tell me about a difficulty you encountered with this department and how you resolved it.
- What is the most difficult or frustrating project you have worked on?
- What do you do when you don’t agree with your manager?
- Describe a project or idea that was implemented primarily because of your efforts. What was your role? The outcome?
- Have you ever worked in a situation where the directions weren’t clear? How did you feel about it?
- We’ve all worked on assignments that weren’t successful. Give me an example of a time when something you tried to accomplish didn’t work.
- Give me an example of how you successfully changed someone’s mind.
- Why are you leaving your current job?
And, if you need a few more questions: 75 Behavioural Interview Questions To Select The Best Candidate.
Remember, all your questions should be related to job requirements. Avoid questions about hobbies or what the candidate likes to do in his or her spare time. If a candidate steers in that direction, quickly move the conversation back to the job.
Interviewing can be a challenging task. You have to get as much information as possible from your candidates in a short time. They have to find out as much as they can about the job and your company in that same short window. Prepare by building your questions around the job functions. When it’s interview time, listen carefully and take notes so you can easily compare and choose.