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It may seem easy at first glance, but conducting a job interview can be tricky. The goal is to find out if a candidate is ideal for the position you’re trying to fill and for the company you’re trying to grow, so you want to get a feel for the person, not just the skill set — which is tough to do in an hour-long meeting with a stranger.
No interview will eliminate all uncertainties with a new hire; people are unpredictable. But if you ask the right questions, you can learn a lot about a person. Here are five tips for running productive employee interviews that help you land the best person for the job.
1. Don’t wing it.
Do not just breeze into an interview and start asking questions. It’s a bad idea for a couple of reasons: First, you’re unlikely to get the information you need to make a smart hire. A good interviewer has a strategy.
And second: regulatory compliance. As an employer — or a prospective employer — you have legal obligations. In order to comply with fair-hiring regulations, you need to avoid asking certain questions. In most cases, that includes questions related to protected classes and protected information, such as:
• What’s your race, anyway?
• Do you plan on getting pregnant anytime soon?
• Do you pray?
• How do you feel about gay marriage?
• How did you vote in the last election?
• Do you have any genetic illnesses?
• Are you mentally or physically handicapped?
If you end up learning about protected information accidentally, in the answer to one of your perfectly compliant questions, just forget you heard it. Make your decision based on everything else.
2. Know your goals.
The overall goal of the interview is to find the right person for the position. So, before drafting any questions, it helps to expressly define the right person for the position. (This will help you prepare an accurate job description, too.)
Make a list of the qualities you want in the new hire. Generally, that list will include specific traits in the categories of:
• The knowledge, skills and experience required to do the job well
• Problem-solving approaches
• Individual versus team mindset
• Values supporting company culture and outlook
• Future plans and career goals
Put some thought into the list. The more specific you can get about the ideal candidate, the better. Knowing the right answers makes it easier to ask the right questions.
3. Look beyond the job.
Remember, this isn’t just about design skills or marketing knowledge. This is about promptness, cooperation, a growth mindset and/or performance under pressure. To learn about the person applying for the job, ask questions designed to reveal the candidate’s …:
• Level of self-awareness
• Ability to take constructive criticism
• Work ethic
• Long-term career goals
• Reliability and trustworthiness
You can get creative here. Some interviewers introduce brain teasers, logic problems, puzzles or personality quizzes. Just keep it within reason — no one wants to show up to an interview and find out it’s time for a two-hour IQ test.
4. Ask open-ended questions.
“Yes” and “no” don’t tell you much about a person, so avoid asking questions that can elicit those responses. Try to keep it open-ended. Instead of “Do you know PowerPoint?” try:
• Tell me about your best-ever PowerPoint presentation.
• What’s the biggest problem you’ve ever run into with PowerPoint, and how did you solve it?
• What’s your favorite feature in the latest PowerPoint version, and why?
• If you could add any new capability to PowerPoint, what would it be, and why?
Staying open-ended encourages longer, more-involved responses from a candidate. It encourages the candidate to think, not just answer, giving you a broader picture of who this person is. Open-ended questions will likely give you answers to some valuable questions you didn’t think to ask.
5. Don’t be afraid to get hypothetical.
A candidate’s actual experience may not encompass the range of scenarios you want feedback on, so it’s helpful to ask hypotheticals. The candidate’s answers can reveal how he or she thinks and acts in unfamiliar situations or on the spot. You can learn a lot from questions like:
• Let’s say a client calls on the phone, another client walks in the door and a manager pages you, all at the same time. What do you do?
• If your computer crashes five minutes before a project deadline, what’s your first move?
• If a manager tells you to complete a task you’ve never done before, what’s the first question you ask?
Hypothetical questions can be especially helpful when interviewing for a role that involves a lot of quick thinking, stressful situations, creativity and/or adaptability.
Ideally, with care and research, you’ll craft questions that reveal exactly what you need to know. You could still end up hiring a dud — it happens to the best of us — but you have a lot of say in the matter. If you take the time to plan your approach and develop sound questions, you’ll dramatically increase your chances of picking the right person for the job, someone who will learn, grow, contribute, enhance and stick around for a while.
April 8, 2019 at 09:55AM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs