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Executive Search Firm News - Conducting an Effective Employee Interview

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Management Matters -
Conducting an Effective Employee Interview

Management Matters: is a New Article series dealing with the issues that arise when managing personnel and how to optimize your current staff in a company.

Conducting an Effective Employee Interview
February 1st, 2010

Many people view the interview process as a stressful task for only the interviewee, when in reality it can be a difficult situation for both sides. Although it is important for the individual being interviewed to make a positive impression on the potential employer, it is also important for the interviewer to do the same. The interviewer is also making an impression on the candidate as a representative of the hiring company, and it is important for the interviewer to realize that the candidate might have other job opportunities. So in this sense, the interviewer is competing for each and every candidate against other potential opportunities that each candidate might have. In order to give a good impression there are several things that the hiring manager can do to help ensure a successful and effective employee interview:

  • Prepare. As a hiring manager, or a manager of any type, it is clear that you are very busy and at times it may be difficult to prepare something for an upcoming interview. This might seem like a good excuse for why you would show up to an interview unprepared, but realistically this makes it even more important for you to show up prepared. Being busy will actually cause you to lose focus during the interview and can lead to a very inefficient process. This is why it is important to have specifics planned out with a little room for improvisation.

  • Set the Tone. It is important to let your potential candidates know that you are grateful for them taking the time to come in and interview with you. From there it is important to briefly lay out how the interview process will work, both for the knowledge of the interviewee and for yourself. Then try and follow this outline as closely as possible.

  • Prepare a Script. This might possibly be one of the most important parts of preparing yourself for the interview process. It is important to have at least a few questions prepared in order to keep the interview structured. In fact, the human resources department might actually have a list of predesigned questions for you to follow. When creating questions, make sure to have open-ended questions that will elicit a detailed response from the candidate. This will allow you to gather insight into what the interviewee is thinking, his/her opinions, reveal background, and demonstrate experience. You could begin the interview with a simple question like, “What led you to apply to this position?” Later in the interview you could ask questions that would emphasize the candidates experience level more. For example, “In this company we are very deadline oriented, could you tell me about a time when a deadline was difficult to meet?” An open-ended question like this will allow you to really see what the candidate is all about, and will make it a lot easier to see if he/she has the potential to fit into the corporate culture.

  • Listen to your Instincts. If a candidate appears to be under qualified or is too good to be true, do not try and convince yourself otherwise. It is important to be honest with yourself as you assess the progress of the interview. It might help to ask pointed questions that steer the candidate in the right direction, but in the end no amount of questioning is going to improve the candidate’s ability to do the job.

  • Know What You Want. Another important aspect of the decision making process is for the hiring manager to know what the expectations are going into the interview. Without a clear set of guidelines or criteria it is very easy to get distracted and end up with an individual who is not quite qualified for the job. If criterion is established from the beginning, it will make the decision process that much more focused.

  • Manage Your Time. If you set aside an hour to conduct an interview, try and stick within this time frame. The only time when an interview should break this time frame is if it is obvious that there is no match. In this case, you can begin to jump into more conclusive questions that will help you to decide whether or not the candidate has potential.

  • Write it down. This final tip will definitely save you a lot of time when it comes to reviewing all of your options. Make sure to take notes on the answers that each candidate gives during the interviews. Although you may think that you have a stellar memory, taking notes will help you compare little details between the candidates when trying to make a difficult decision.

These simple steps should help to improve any interview process and allow it run more efficiently. Having guidelines will help to structure the interview process and give it a more professional feel for you and more importantly for the candidate. It is very important to remember that during this process, you are not only interviewing the potential candidates, but they are also interviewing you. These candidates may have several other opportunities that they are competing for and there is no guarantee that they will accept the position that is offered. Following these steps will allow you to remain cool, calm, and comfortable throughout the whole process, while portraying confidence to your candidates.

 

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