The virtual stack of resumes in your inbox is winnowed and certain candidates have passed the phone screen. Next step: in-person interviews. How should you use the relatively brief time to get to know — and assess — a near stranger? How many people at your firm should be involved? How can you tell if a candidate will be a good fit? And finally, should you really ask questions like: “What’s your greatest weakness?”
What the Experts Say
As the employment market improves and candidates have more options, hiring the right person for the job has become increasingly difficult.
Your job is to assess candidates but also to convince the best ones to stay. Here’s how to make the interview process work for you — and for them.
1. Prepare your questions
Before you meet candidates face-to-face, you need to figure out exactly what you’re looking for in a new hire so that you’re asking the right questions during the interview. For inspiration and guidance, wrecommends looking at your top performers. What do they have in common? How are they resourceful? What did they accomplish prior to working at your organization? What roles did they hold? Those answers will help you create criteria and enable you to construct relevant questions.
2. Reduce stress
Candidates find job interviews stressful because of the many unknowns. What will my interviewer be like? What kinds of questions will he ask? How can I squeeze this meeting into my workday? And of course: What should I wear? But “when people are stressed they do not perform as well,” says Sullivan. He recommends taking preemptive steps to lower the candidate’s cortisol levels. Tell people in advance the topics you’d like to discuss so they can prepare. Be willing to meet the person at a time that’s convenient to him or her. And explain your organization’s dress code. Your goal is to “make them comfortable” so that you have a productive, professional conversation.
3. Assess potential
That amount of time enables you to “really assess the person’s competency and potential.” Look for signs of the candidate’s “curiosity, insight, engagement, and determination.” Sullivan says to “assume that the person will be promoted and that they will be a manager someday. The question then becomes not only can this person do the job today, but can he or she do the job a year from now when the world has changed?” Ask the candidate how he learns and for his thoughts on where your industry is going.
4. Consider “cultural fit,” but don’t obsess
Much has been made about the importance of “cultural fit” in successful hiring. Think about your company’s work environment and compare it to the candidate’s orientation. Is he a long-term planner or a short-term thinker? Is he collaborative or does he prefer working independently? But, your perception of a candidate’s disposition isn’t necessarily indicative of whether he can acclimate to a new culture.