Interviewing Tips: How to Find the Best People for the Job

After you have narrowed down your potential job candidates to a select group, you still have a ways to go before finding the best person for the job.  Now it’s time to start the interview process.  The purpose of the interview is to give hiring managers a well-rounded view of the candidate, but unfortunately many managers conduct interviews in a way that doesn’t really give them the information needed to make an informed decision. Likewise, it can be difficult for some managers to weed through the fabrications and exaggerations of potential candidates.  Hiring the wrong person can be expensive and detrimental to the company so it is critical that managers investigate prospective candidates thoroughly in order to make the right choice.  Use these interviewing tips to help your company select superior employees for the job.

Screen Candidates by Phone Prior to the Interview

A phone interview gives the employer a chance to determine if the candidate’s qualifications, experience, and salary needs are congruent with the position.  It also gives the employer a chance to get a feel for the candidate’s personality.  Conducting a phone interview saves the employer time and money by eliminating unlikely candidates. 

Start with a Little Small Talk

It’s always helpful to begin an interview with a bit of small talk.  Let the candidate tell you a little bit about themselves such as their family, hobbies, interests, favorite sports team, etc.  This will help the candidate to relax a little bit before digging into the harder questions.  The candidate is more likely to open up and be more honest and authentic when they feel more relaxed. First impressions really matter in the workplace, and this generic conversation can really help you get a feel for the candidate.  Are they friendly and energetic?  Do they appear confident?  Are they well-groomed and dressed appropriately?  Small talk is also a good way to get a feel for the candidate’s personality so you can better decide if they will be a good fit for the company.

Get the Basics

Once you are ready to begin the real interview it’s always a good idea to start with the basics.  Delve into the candidate’s job application and resume.  Ask about past jobs held, duties, and what they did and didn’t like about each position. If specific skills are needed for the job, find out if the candidate has these skills and how long they have been using them.  This is also a good time to ask the candidate what special certifications or educational attainments they might have that are related to the job.

Ask In-Depth Questions

Many employers stick to those basic interview questions that simply state the candidate’s prior experience.  It’s important, however, to dive deeper.  Ask the applicant about their short and long-term goals.  Where do they see themselves in 3,5, or 10 years?  You also need to explore the applicant’s strengths and weaknesses.  Find out what the candidate is looking for most in a job and what about this job caught their attention.  Ask questions that are more thought-provoking and require the applicant to be more reflective.

Find Out What the Candidate Can Do Beyond the Skills

Skills are easy to test for and in many cases can even be taught, but work ethic and values are what make an extraordinary employee and these are not so easily acquired.  You can check for these characteristics by giving the applicant various scenarios to see how they would react in each situation.  You can also ask them to describe their ideal co-worker.  This will give you an idea of what they respect and value in other people.

Put Them in a Real Scenario

One of the quickest ways to get past the bull in an interview is to put applicants in a real situation that they will face on the job.  For example, an accountant can sit with someone in the office and demonstrate their knowledge.  A sales applicant can pitch one of your company’s products.  A customer service representative can handle an actual phone call.  References and resumes only get you so far but watching the candidate do the job in your presence can be a real eye opener.