When your business is expanding, the first thing to come to mind is how to recruit the best candidates. But the obvious next step often gets neglected: interviewing. In a perfect world candidates are lining up to join your team, and you have your choice of several qualified people.
In reality your interview is likely to be a 50-50 situation, where a good candidate is evaluating your offerings and reputation as intensely as you’re evaluating them. Today, job seekers are benefiting from epic-low unemployment, and the power shift from employer to potential employee is obvious.
Your interview process can help or hurt the candidate's evaluation, so it needs to be:
- Easy to arrange by phone, virtual meeting or in person
- Communicated clearly and with appropriate technology
- Relaxed, welcoming and professional
- Two-sided, with plenty of time for both sides to ask questions
Whether you've been hiring and interviewing people for years, or it's the first time your business has needed to bring in new blood, a reliable interview process will help you achieve the best outcome: an employee who can do the job you need, in the way you need it.
Here are six ways to inject process into your interview strategy.
Tip 1: Have a Welcoming Interview Setup
From the moment you decide to invite a candidate into the interview process, you need to think about how your actions impact their opinion of you. From the background noise on your phone call to the time it takes you to get back to them about times and locations, it all matters. Make your first impression count - you only get one.
- Use technology in a way that shows you are up-to-date with modern tech
- Don't make your candidate jump through hoops to connect with you
- Find a time, location and/or virtual solution that accommodates all schedules
- Give the candidate an idea of what you'll talk about
- Put the candidate at ease through small talk, smiles and gracious thank you for their time
- Give them a heads up about your dress code
- Tell them who will be there, if anyone other than you
Tip 2: Have the Right People There
Democracy gives most of us a positive feeling, but in interviews, the rule of the masses can get a little tricky. If you're more than a one-person team, select a stakeholder or two to join your interview. Don't over do it; no candidate likes to feel like they're facing a panel of inquisitors.
Having the candidate's potential team members in attendance will:
- Show the prospective employee and your current employees you value the team
- Bring out different dimensions of the candidates
- Provide on-the-ground perspective about the role
- Make your colleagues feel valued as they contribute to this important strategic decision
Tip 3: Be Prepared
At least the day before the interview, outline your objectives. Have these though out and in hand before you walk into the room. Have the following prepared:
- The interview agenda
- Your business values and how they impact the position
- Ideal candidate qualities and questions that drive to uncovering those answers
- Questions for the interviewee
- How the process will play out from here
Tip 4: Ask the Right Questions
When it comes to questions, stay away from the irrelevant ones. In a job market where finding good people to fill challenging roles is the norm, make sure you’re focused on the right things. If a specific degree isn’t really required, don’t bring it up. Depending on the job, relevant work history could be OSHA certifications and apprenticeships, or college degrees and a willingness to travel. Based on the work environment, ask questions that will help you answer the important questions of: “Will this person succeed here?” and “Will my business be better with this person?”
Tip 5: Be a Listener
Active listening is a highfalutin way of saying, LISTEN. Commit to listening closely to what your prospective hire says, and when it makes sense, ask follow-up questions to gather details and specific examples. For example, if an interviewee says:
“I had a really positive experience with my last employer and that enabled me to work much better as part of the team.”
Don’t skip that tidbit and move on; ask a follow-up question. It will help you get a better sense of what this potential employee values in the workplace. It may even help you tailor your approach to dealing with your current employees. Interviews can feel very high stakes, so be sure you’re doing your best not only to put the interviewee at ease, but also to slow yourself down and really process the conversation.
In addition, ask your potential new hire about their questions and thoughts on the job.
Tip 6: Close Hard
As with any sales pitch, your interviewee is likely to close hard on their qualifications and desire to get the job. The same goes for you - if the candidate has your attention as a top contender. As the interview comes to a close, be sure to:
- Reiterate your thanks for their time
- Congratulate them on the work they’ve done to reach this point in their career
- Drop a compliment about why they would be a good fit
- Slide in a reminder about the quality of workplace and workforce you’ve created (because don’t forget: the candidate is evaluating you, too)
As you close out, be sure to tell the interviewee when and how they can expect to hear back. A great interview process should leave both parties feeling like they got in everything they wanted to and were able to walk out feeling they have a good grasp on the role and the culture of your business.