It’s a tight employment market right now. 4.6% unemployment, the last time I checked. This means finding the best candidates for your open positions is not an easy task. You’ve contacted your HR manager or outside recruiter with surfacing a slate of qualified candidates for you. Now is NOT the time to drop the ball and conduct an unprepared or unproductive interview. If you follow our six quick tips, you’ll come to enjoy the interview process, impress the candidates, and may come a step closer to landing that quality new hire!
1. First, determine who will conduct the interview
Generally, the hiring manager conducts the interview. Some companies prefer the HR manager conducts the first interview. We recommend that both the hiring manager and HR manager be present during the interview. If the HR manager was tasked with locating the candidates, he or she should be present at the interview (at least the first couple) to benefit from hearing the hiring manager’s questions and observing the candidate’s responses and body language. This allows them to truly see which skills, topics, and information the hiring manager is most interested in.
2. Make it a conversation
Keep it light. Start by telling them a little about you, your company, and then the job. Then ask some easy questions that will put the interviewee at ease. This format will be more productive for you and the candidate. Be sure to listen carefully. Think about what they say, encourage them to share more information. There’s no need to make candidates uncomfortable. You won’t see the “real” candidate under those circumstances. Try to ascertain how well they will fit with your culture and team. Skills can be coached, personalities can’t.
3. What to say about your company
The interview is your chance to sell the candidate on your company. The candidate may be in the middle of serious job search. Make sure you are prepared to discuss four significant reasons why people have gravitated to your company and have been productive and loyal. Is it personal and professional growth, opportunity to advance, superior training, great compensation and benefits, or ability to make a difference and impact the future of the company? Whatever it may be, this may be a good time to share it with conviction and enthusiasm.
4. Where to conduct the interview
This may seem obvious, but many companies don’t do a good job of it. The interview must be conducted in a private (has a door), quiet (cell-phones off, away from the factory floor), comfortable (tidy, clean) office or conference room. Let your staff know an interview is in progress and request that you not be disturbed. Offer the candidate water or a beverage.
5. Be consistent with the evaluation
Everyone who will interview the candidate needs to use a common rating system. Think of it as a rubric from your school days. How well did the candidate answer each question? Do you think the candidate will fit in well with the team? Are their skills lined up with what is required on the job? Rate each category numerically. Figure out what your perfect score is and see, objectively, how the candidate compared with other candidates.
6. How to close the interview
Really liked the candidate? Set up a second interview before they leave the office. If you have an application, ask them to complete it before leaving.
Not certain how you felt about the candidate? Tell them you enjoyed the conversation; however, you’re interviewing other candidates, and will get back to them within one week. Perhaps you or they were feeling “off” during the interview. If you give them a second chance, they may perform better in a second interview. Setting candidates on a shelf does no good for the candidate, you or your company brand. Consider having them back or letting them know the fit is not quite right and move on.
Clearly not a good match? Let them know, preferably in the meeting. “I am sorry, however our position is not best suited for your skill set.” At the close of the interview, tell them how you appreciated their time and preparation and that you enjoyed meeting them, and if other positions open that are more suitable for their background, you will be in touch. Or, if you prefer not to dismiss them during the interview, wait a couple of days to give them a call or send them an email. Reiterate that you enjoyed meeting them, however, you have seen other candidates who are closer to the profile you were looking for. Leave them on a positive note because improving your networks and gaining referrals is always worth your time.
By keeping these high-level tips in mind, we think you’ll have better luck evaluating the candidates you desire and require to keep your business “brand” thriving and expanding.
Gary Bozza, founder and managing partner of WorldBridge Partners Chicago NW, has been winning industry awards and recognitions in talent acquisition for the last 20 years. Gary’s business is dedicated to helping CEOs, presidents, and owners drive revenue and maximize the effectiveness of their human capital resources. WBP’s clients range from small, privately held companies to large, publicly-held, multinational corporations. Gary has the expertise to help produce significant growth and profits for companies by enhancing culture, attracting talent or assisting presidents with succession planning.