I’ve taught classes for managers on interviewing skills countless times over the years. What I’ve found to be true is that interviewing is like potato salad: Everyone has their own way of doing it and everything thinks their way is the best. I know a manager who is adamant that the only question he needs to ask prospective candidates is “if you were an animal on a carousel, which animal would you be?” I totally disagree but have not been able to convince him to this day. Making a good hiring choice is so important that most people are highly invested in whatever they think increases the odds of finding a great candidate (or avoiding a nightmare). I have a personal list of do’s and don’ts that I’ve found over the years to have good predictive validity. Hopefully you have success with them as well.
A job description review for job requirements, competencies and duties
This is probably most important. Never, never, never interview someone without this. You’re doing everyone a disservice. Requirements are your non-negotiables that someone needs in order to do the job. For example, if you’re hiring an accountant a requirement might be an accounting degree. Competencies are skills someone has acquired, such as proficiency with excel and duties refer to the tasks people will be doing, such as coding journal entries.
Craft behavioral interview questions based on the above
My unshakable belief is that the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior and that if someone has successfully executed the necessary components of the job previously there is a high likelihood they will do so again, so the interview questions should ask what people have done, and not what they would or could do.
Create an interview sheet with each question, rating and notes
This is so important because it keeps you objective and fair throughout the process. We are all going to find candidates we relate to better than others and having an interview sheet ensures every candidate has an equal chance to provide the same information to you.
Ask clarifying questions
I sometimes forget that the candidates can be very good at hiding their nervousness, and so sometimes when they say odd, off the wall things it can take me aback. There is nothing wrong with asking someone to repeat what they said or to clarify. In fact, imagine in every interview that you will be relaying the interview to a very inquisitive six year old. They will have no compunctions about asking why, so you’d better not either!
This goes along with the point above, but it cannot be overstated. If the candidate has said something that suddenly puts them into the do not hire camp, please address it (if appropriate). For example, if the candidate has implied that they do not like working directly with customers, and that is part of the job, please say so. On the other hand, if your concerns are illegal, you may need to look at your own biases. For example, if you inadvertently learn that your candidate is a member of a protected class and it changes your impression of them, you need to look at you and focus your attention all the more on the job requirements and whether the candidate can fulfill them.
Address salary expectations
By now, everyone has chewed on the old chestnut stating that in salary negotiations, the first person to mention a number loses. I get it but, please! It makes recruiting almost impossible when candidates are secretive about their salary requirements. Just tell what the job pays, and let the candidate decide if that works for them or not.
Mention any background checks or pre-employment drug tests
Different companies have different philosophies on this, but if you will be administering a pre-employment drug test or background check, tell your candidate and let them decide if they want to continue the process. It saves time and money to give them a graceful out.
Again, these are just some things that I have found to have good predictive validity. There are also some don’ts that I’ve done well to stay away from that I’ll be sharing next week. Until then, happy hunting!