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honest and ethical? Are they responsible and dependable? Can they work independently?
4. Can we afford you? Are you prepared to pay what it takes to get the best candidates for your job? Can your company afford it? Remember that salary is but one component of a compensation package. The availability of benefits, a nicer office, or a more impressive title will weigh into a candidate’s decision on whether or not to accept a job offer.
Interviewing is an art; here are some ideas on how to paint your
• Review the resumes of each interviewee the morning before interviews start. Don’t wait to read your interviewees’ resumes during the interview, prepare in advance and tailor your questions to the specific qualifications of your candidate.
• Become intimately familiar with the job description. Be sure that you are an expert on all the different duties and requirements of the job. Not only will you do a better job interviewing your candidates, but there’s less chance that you’ll surprise new hires with duties that you didn’t tell them about.
• Draft your questions before the interview. This is your chance to ask your candidate questions (and receive answers) that will help guide your hiring decision. Make a list of questions before interview starts, then go through your questions one by one as the interview progresses.
• Select a comfortable environment for both of you. Avoid distracting your candidate (and you) with an environment that is something less than comfortable. You don’t need a heater to make your candidates sweat—they’ll do plenty of that anyway as soon as the interview starts.
LEADERSHIP: THE PEOPLE THING
• Take lots of notes. If you’re planning to interview more than one candidate, take notes during your discussions. Good notes help you keep track of your thoughts, and they can be an invaluable aid in the event that you or your organization is sued because of an unpopular hiring decision.
Keep asking questions until you’re satisfied that you have all the information you need to make your decision. Finally, note your own impressions of the candidates:
• “Top-notch performer—the star of her class.”
• “Fantastic experience with developing applications in a client-server environment. The best candidate yet.”
• “Where did they dig up this candidate?”
For every interview “do,” there is probably a corresponding interview “don’t.” Some interviewing don’ts are merely good business. It’s not smart, for example, to dwell on questions that have nothing to do with a candidate’s suitability for a particular job. Other interviewing don’ts have legal ramifications. For example, although you can ask applicants whether they are able to perform specific job-related tasks (such as lift a 50-pound box) in the United States, you can’t ask them whether they are disabled, are married, have a car, and a variety of other questions. In fact, there are some questions that you absolutely should never ask a job candidate. Here’s a brief summary of subjects to avoid:
• National origin.
The Management Bible
• Sexual orientation.
• Marital status.
• Religion (or lack thereof).
• Arrest and conviction record.
• Height and weight.
The good news is that none of these possible subjects relate to the
ability of applicants to perform their jobs. You can therefore focus on
asking questions that directly relate to the candidates’ ability to perform required tasks and avoid those that don’t—legal or not.
Five Steps to Better Interviewing
Every interview consists of five key steps:
Step 1: Welcome the applicant. Greet your candidates warmly and chat with them briefly to help them relax. Ask about the weather, the difficulty of finding your offices, or how they found out about your position.
Step 2: Summarize the position. Briefly describe the job, the kind of person you’re looking for, and give your candidate a short outline of how the interview process will work.
Step 3: Ask your questions (and then listen). Ask questions relevant to the position and covering the applicant’s work experience, education, and other related topics. Spend the majority of your time listening rather than talking; avoid trying to sell the job to an applicant when you should be trying to find out if he or she is a good fit.
Step 4: Probe experience and find out the candidate’s strengths and weaknesses. Although it can take some digging to get the real
LEADERSHIP: THE PEOPLE THING
story, the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. Ask questions that probe your applicants’ experience and that require your candidates to name their strengths and weaknesses.
Step 5: Conclude the interview. Give your candidates an opportunity to offer any further information that they feel is necessary for you to make a decision and to ask questions about your firm or about the job. Thank them for their interest, and let them know when they can expect to hear your firm.