Prepare carefully for effective interview.
Question: My experience in hiring good employees is somewhat spotty. How can I conduct more effective interviews of potential employees?
Answer: Failing to prepare adequately for interviews is a weakness in employee recruiting for many small business owners.
If you analyze carefully the job you need to fill, including the specific responsibilities the employee will have, you will focus more closely during interviews on the match of the person to the job.
Make a list of the skills and experiences that a viable candidate should have and relate those to specific functions of the job. Consider which are essential and which are not critical or can be learned later.
Prepare a worksheet of measurable criteria to use to compare candidates. You will have personal reactions to the candidates during the interviews and using a criteria worksheet will facilitate thoroughness and force you to return to objectivity after the interview. Plan to use the worksheet immediately after the interview while your memory is fresh.
Before the interview, use the candidate's resume and your criteria worksheet to prepare a list of questions about the candidate's skills and past performance. Concentrate on questions that will bring out his or her ability to perform the intended role in your business. During the interview, let the candidate talk (follow the 80/20 rule - listen more than you talk). Let the candidate describe accomplishments, problems overcome and interactions with co-workers and customers. Listen to the candidate's answers and ask follow up questions so that you understand the full story.
There are many examples of open-ended questions that allow the candidate to show experience and work attitudes. Use such questions to draw out information relevant to the position. For example: "How have you dealt with difficult customer problems?" "How do you organize your schedule and customer follow-ups?" "Give an example of working under high pressure." "Tell me about major projects you have been responsible for." Ask about vacations, recreation, interests and membership in business and civic organizations. Responses will give clues to personal balance, values and community involvement.
Consider what the candidate's questions tell you about his or her attitude toward the job, your company and his or her diligence in preparing for the interview.
A lot of resource materials designed for business people discuss questions you should not ask unless the answers are critical to performance of the job. These questions may relate to age, gender, ethnicity, religion, medical history, political and social affiliations, etc. You should become familiar with the parameters for their use or misuse. Sources include: www.eeoc.gov/facts/qanda.html and www.research.lawyers.com/Oregon/Employment-Law-in-Oregon.html.
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