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Finding Great People: The Pre-Interview

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In a previous post, we discussed how to more effectively post ads and screen resumes.  If you follow those tips you will be much more likely to interview qualified candidates so as not to waste anyone’s time.  But what makes for an effective interview?  First, consider making use of a qualifying phone screen.  Interviewing takes time for both yourself and the candidate so it is smart to make sure you’re only interviewing those most likely to succeed in your organization. 

After you have determined the candidate has performed similar tasks in the past and that they seem to be a cultural fit, the next step is a qualifying phone call.  The purpose of this call is basically to determine whether your impressions from their resume and cover letter seem accurate, whether there is ‘chemistry’, and if the candidate’s basic requirements match what your organization has to offer.  You should schedule about thirty to forty-five minutes for the phone interview with the candidate so an email invitation is best to ensure the candidate is prepared.  During this interview you will want to review their skills and ask questions to get a feel for their proficiency in necessary skills. 

Behavioral interviewing is the best way to determine whether a candidate has actually performed certain tasks. So, ‘tell me about the various ways you’ve used Excel in previous jobs’ is a better question than ‘What level of Excel are you?’ or ‘This job requires extensive spreadsheet skill.  Are you okay with that?’  You should also verify that the reporting location and working hours are a fit for the candidate.  After the phone interview you will have an idea of whether this person will fit in your organization and you can decide whether or not to schedule an in person interview. 

If you have many phone interviews, it is a good idea to wait until they are all concluded before you schedule the interviews, unless someone is so outstanding there is no doubt in your mind.  After your phone screen calls, it is best to be courteous and inform candidates you have not selected that they will not be moving forward in the process.  IT is worth your time to do your due diligence with this step to ensure you are getting the best possible candidates into your organization.

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Author: Carrie Maldonado

Carrie Maldonado, is an organizational development consultant, author, and speaker. Carrie's eclectic mix of professional interests include writing, speaking, coaching, and consulting on topics ranging from organizational behavior management to spiritual transformation in and out of the workplace. Carrie lives in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with her patient and long-suffering husband and their three children.

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