Recruitment: The Art of the Interview

Before purchasing a new vehicle for your company or buying property, you research options, check prices and read reviews. Maybe a test drive. The same general principles apply when hiring an employee. If you wouldn't invest $100K in a new vehicle without researching, don't hire before you know who you are getting and how they will perform.

Good hiring starts with a good job description. A job description covers the basic skills required to perform the role well and the environmental conditions and physical requirements. A quality job description will form an accurate advertisement that will narrow the number of applicants and provide a starting point for creating quality interview questions. Taking the time to develop these documents will help you find the right person for your company.

When Balanced Perspectives works on a recruitment project, here are the items we create to help fill the role:

  1. Job Description
  2. Advertisement
  3. Resume Screening Tool
  4. Telephone Screening Questions
  5. In-Person Interview Questions-Round One
  6. In-Person Interview Questions-Round Two
  7. Tests-directly related to the position
  8. Reference Questions
  9. Employment Agreement

 Tips for the best use of time in front of candidates

Spend more than 15 to 20 seconds reviewing each resume.

I see thousands, literally thousands of resumes a year. What advice can I give you on reviewing resumes? It's simple. Check them. And then recheck them. Read the entire resume from start to finish. When I’m in a great mood, everyone gets moved to the next stage of a competition, and when I’m in a bad mood, no one has the qualifications I am looking for. Best practice-use a screening tool and score every resume with it.

Consider a quick phone screen before deciding if you want to interview.

A quick phone call to the top few candidates can help quickly shorten the list. How did they answer the phone? Do they remember applying for the position? Have a list of prepared questions-ask all candidates the same questions. Write down their responses.

 Ask a few basic questions:

  • Can you describe your background?
  • Why are you looking for a new job?
  • Where are you in your job search process?
  • When could you start working?

This interview is to narrow the list and find the top 3 to 5 candidates to interview.

Book interviews for the time of day when you are least likely to get disrupted.

Emergencies happen, but give your full time and attention to the candidate unless it is a true emergency. Handoff your phone to another team member and put a sign on the door. Candidates will see you checking your phone or responding to texts as a sign of disrespect. Why would anyone want to work for a Manager that can't give them an hour of their time and attention?

What questions do you NEED to ask?

The best way to formulate GREAT questions is to review the job description, past incidents and plans for the role. Go beyond ‘what is your greatest strength?’ and ask them to walk you through an event that has happened or could happen. E.g. After launching a major social media campaign across multiple platforms the following day, it is trending for all the wrong reasons. Your hashtag is in the urban dictionary as an alternative way to negatively reference a minority group. Your supervisor is upset. How does this play out? What are you doing next? Are there specific tasks that the position will be required to do? Ask them to walk you through all the steps.

Be prepared.

Try to book interviews in your schedule for when you are less busy or likely to be interrupted. Book a reminder for 15 minutes before the interview starts; grab a coffee, print the interview questions and review the resume once more before meeting the candidate. Make sure you have a second set of ears in the interview. They may hear and see things you miss.

Interview again.

The interviews went great, and you have found the one! Great—meet them again. There will be less pressure on your and them in the second interview, and you can be sure that this person is the one. Love at first sight in interviews is common, but after meeting several candidates, we can get qualities or answers mixed up and sometimes candidates. Use the second interview to get more in-depth with the position's duties and the upcoming changes or direction of the role. This is your research for a ‘purchase’ of over $100,000 make it a good choice.

 Is there testing that could be done?

Depending on the position you are hiring for, there may be a test that you can have the candidate complete to assess their skills. Hiring a driver the test seems pretty obvious, but for other roles, it may not. Consider the different aspects of the position and develop a practical test. Grocery clerk? Give them a list of groceries and ask them what goes in the bag first. AP/AR clerk? Give them a copy of a spreadsheet, invoice or receipt and ask questions. When is the payment due? How would they verify the amounts?

 Does your company rely on personality testing for building a good team? Have the top candidate (or two) complete the test. Don't forget about pre-employment testing-will the candidate be required to do a physical assessment, drug and alcohol? Let them know before you make the offer.

Meet the team.

A great way to make a final decision is to have the candidate meet the rest of the team. Many companies will use this meeting and ask additional questions. Instead, turn it into a coffee break and watch the interactions. Will this person fit into the team energy that exists in your business?

References (or not).

Traditionally, references are part of the recruitment process. After you have met with the person and are confident, this is the person you would like to offer the position too-reference check them. Ensure you get the candidate to sign off on the references they provide-giving you permission to contact them. Pro tip: Ask for references specific to the role. Will this person be supervising staff? Ask to speak with a previous subordinate. If the position for a role that you are not an expert in, for example, HR or Safety, ask for a reference that can speak to their profession-specific skills and abilities.

I prefer not to reference candidates. I like to form my own opinions of candidates, and if I have spent time getting to know them and the team feels they are a fit, the decision is easy. Referencing is fallible, with candidates providing names of friends and family instead of supervisors. It is hard to know sometimes and hard to confirm. Check LinkedIn, review their Facebook profile, and do a google search. Is this your person?

Making the offer. 

A verbal offer is a great way to start but make sure to follow up with a written employment agreement immediately afterwards. A great team member will want to see the offer in writing before they resign from their current role, AND a fantastic team member will also want to give them at least one-weeks notice. If they don’t do this when joining your company, they likely won't do it when they leave your company. 

Next month we will cover QUEER Friendly Work Environments.

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