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Conducting Effective Employee Interviews

October 24th, 2010

employee-interviews.JPGWhile technological innovation is certainly transforming the way business enterprises conduct their affairs, people are still the most important element in any organization. As the song goes, “People Make the World Go Round.” It’s important to place enough emphasis on the human resource function in your business, regardless of the size of your company.

Interviewing candidates for positions within your enterprise is a critical human resource activity. It’s important to take this task seriously and devote the time necessary to ensure you choose the best employee possible for a specific position. It all begins with conducting effective employee interviews. Effective interviewing is a safeguard against hiring someone who, in the end, may not be a right fit for your organization. It’s not a 100 percent guarantee; however, it does improve the odds that you will choose a suitable candidate.

Here are ten tips for conducting effective employee interviews:

1. Have a detailed written job description ready concerning the position you are hiring for and use this job description to help you prepare a set of focused interview questions appropriate to the position you wish to fill. This ensures you ask questions specific to the particular position, not general questions, which may not elicit the responses you require from the potential employee.

2. If you do little interviewing, or are uncomfortable with interviewing, practice asking the questions with a current employee of your company. Job candidates rehearse and practice – you can too. In this way, you will be more prepared and relaxed when it comes time for the actual interview and you will represent your organization well.

3. Choose a handful of candidates to interview based on the cover letters and applications you receive. Interviewing takes time and energy. You cannot interview everyone, nor should you. Select three to five candidates – the “best in class” so to speak, and schedule interview times. Select more if you have the time, but do not overschedule. You don’t want to rush interviews just to get everyone in. Have a cut-off point for the number of interviews you wish to conduct.

4. When you begin an interview, try your best to put the job candidate at ease. There are two reasons for this. First, it’s common courtesy and shows respect for the feelings of others. Job interviews are often stressful affairs. Some people handle them well; others do not. Do your best to make the process more comfortable for the ones who find them difficult.

The second reason to make someone feel comfortable is that you will see their true persona shine through; they will provide better, well-thought out answers. This will give you a true indication of their abilities, proclivities, and personality. If they’re uptight and nervous they may not be forthcoming enough and hold back information about themselves and their capabilities that you need.

5. Ask employment-related questions. Of course, you may open the interview with some pleasant, congenial discourse. However, it’s important to move on to the task at hand quickly. You want to garner information from the person that will help you make a wise hiring decision – for your benefit and the prospective candidate’s. You want the job to be a good fit for both parties.

Therefore, don’t get off track discussing issues and concerns not directly related to the position you wish to fill. It’s a waste of time, and as a busy businessperson, you have to budget your time wisely to ensure you have productive interviews. Choosing the best candidate based on the job parameters you set out is priority #1.

6. Ask questions concerning how employees dealt with real-life work situations. This gives you an idea of how they operate and think and make decisions. Don’t ask “what if” or generic questions that typically produce standard formulaic responses the candidate feels you want to hear.

You want to know “what they did”, “how they reacted and handled” and “what solutions they put forth” in real situations working for their current and previous employers. This gives you the essence of who the candidate really is as an employee.

7. Listen, listen, and listen. Sure you have specific questions to ask; ask them and then be “all ears.” Concentrate on the responses you receive to ensure you hear the words being said. Your decisions will be based on these responses. Let the job candidate be comfortable and elaborate so you gain as much information as possible.

Recognize what the candidate omits to say as well. You may be fishing for a certain response and not receive it. Listen, and determine why a candidate said something but left something out as well.

8. Be impartial as you listen. If a candidate gives an unusual, startling, shocking, or convoluted response that you can’t make sense of, don’t cringe or go wide-eyed, or display some other obvious reaction. Keep your composure and professional demeanor and ask for clarification of the response, or simply move on to the next question. If you show bias the candidate may change their answer in an attempt get back on your “right side.” Impartiality is the best way to ensure the candidate answers according to their beliefs, opinions, views and value set, not yours.

9. Allow time for the candidate to ask you questions important to them, or to wrap up their thoughts to you in a final address. They may ask something which you did not anticipate, but which is very important to helping you see their point of view more clearly. You may gain a better understanding of the candidate and their skills, and their wants and desires for the job from these questions. The questions they ask may help you redefine the position you’re hiring for even more clearly.

10. Allow appropriate time between each interview if you’re conducting more than one interview in a day. This allows you to write a summary of the interview and jot down important gleanings from it. In addition, this time lets you unwind a touch and get ready for the next interview. You will approach the next interview fresh, with your mind clear and focused on the new candidate at hand. Then you can put the previous interview behind you, so you can concentrate on the other prospective employees and how they may help your business.

Take the time to plan out and conduct effective employee interviews. You owe it to yourself, your company, your existing employees, and the candidates who take the time to show up at your place of business for the interview. A productive interview, conducted with respect for the candidate, is a reflection of the professionalism and integrity of your business. In addition, it’s your best bet for securing a quality employee who will benefit your business and help you grow your sales and profits.


This article was supplied by Michael Ugulini from Constant Content.


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