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A few interviews into the process and the candidates can all begin to look the same. Worse yet, you have so much on your mind that you are only half listening. Interviewing new hires can be a difficult process if you don't streamline your approach. Try some of these tips to make your next round of interviews more productive.
Let the Cat Out of the Bag
Help more junior candidates prepare by letting them know before the interview what is expected of them. Share with them some of the questions you will be asking. Sometimes seeing how well they prepare in advance can be more important than whether they can think on their feet. Younger employees will be more intimidated during the interview process anyway. Most likely this will go away with time. Their work ethic, however, is important from the start. It will be immediately apparent by how well they have prepared their answers.
Ask the Right Questions
Have your list of questions prepared in advance and ask the same questions of all of your candidates. Ask specific questions designed to give you a clear understanding of your candidate's skill set. Knowing the qualities you need to fill the position will help you put this list together. If you are hiring a project manager, for instance, questions related to attention to detail and multi-tasking are important. If you are a deadline oriented business, then questions that gauge working under pressure would give good insight into whether a candidate is right for the job.
Avoid the silly "if you were an animal/plant/color what would you be" questions. Unless you have a degree in psychology, you will learn little from this line of questioning. Microsoft has long been a proponent of abstract interview questions. Scott Pitasky, general manager of recruiting for Microsoft, says these questions help Microsoft avoid "ending up with a group of very talented people who always come up with the same answer as each other." But since most of us don't have Microsoft's HR department at our disposal, I would stick to the basics.
Look at the Long Term
Asking about a candidate's career goals can give you valuable insight. It shows you whether the candidate is thinking about their career or just looking for a job. It also lets you know if you will be able to meet their needs further down the road. You may find out that the person's real interests lie in an entirely different industry. I once interviewed a candidate for a sales position who confessed that they hoped to soon be working as a professional photographer. Very interesting field, just not related to the job I was hiring for.
This can be difficult to do without slowing the pace of the conversation. And unless you were a secretary in the 1950's your short-hand is probably rusty. Be brief with your notes using only keywords that will trigger memories. It may seem like a hassle, but if you are interviewing multiple candidates it is a necessity.
Do Your Homework
We all hope that the people we interview have taken the time to research our company and are familiar with what we do. As interviewers, we should be equally prepared before walking in to the meeting. Be familiar with the applicant's resume. Prepare questions that relate specifically to their past experience. Remember that candidate is also interviewing you.
Set the Stage
Let the applicants know what the next steps will be. Is there a second interview round? Is there anything that they need to prepare for the second round? While searching for a junior marketing manager, I once asked all candidates returning for a second interview to write a press release. The release was promoting themselves as an available candidate. This exercise gave me a glimpse at their creativity, their writing skills and their motivation level.
Get a Second Opinion
If possible, have more than one person in your company interview the applicants. Each interview should be different. One can be personality driven with a more relaxed conversational approach. Giving the candidate the opportunity to meet with several would-be peers is a good way to gauge whether they will mesh well with your team.
Don't Get Personal
There are certain questions that you simply can't ask, even casually. Know which questions might lead to legal problems for your company. Here are a few that are big no-no's:
- Are you married?
- Are you planning to have children?
- How old are you?
- Are you a religious person?
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