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How to Conduct an Effective Interview

Far too many managers approach an interview as something they have to do rather than looking at it as an opportunity. Being prepared to interview enhances the possibility of hiring the right person for the right position. Lack of preparation almost ensures you get another warm body needing a job!

Top-notch companies all over the world have discovered the importance of spending time and effort up front when hiring employees to prevent the pain of turnover and termination down the road. Everyone is busy and there never seems to be enough time. Because of this there is the tendency is to get someone, anyone, into an unfilled position as quickly as possible. But if you spend time finding the right people you save time and money overall because of the decreased turnover. It turns into a win-win situation for everyone—you get a valuable, long- term employee and the employee is content with his/her new position.

It is extremely important for the interviewer to be prepared for the interview. As the interviewer your most important task is to know about the job for which the applicant is applying. Those of you who utilize the John Beane/Staff Development Services Hiring Report know that our recommendations are based upon matching the character or behavioral tendencies of the prospective employee to what is needed to be successful in a particular job. If you know what character or behavioral tendencies are needed to succeed in a job prior to the interview you can develop a list of open-ended questions that will help you discern if this person’s character make-up match the needs of the job.

Example: You are preparing your questions for an interview. The job requires many hours of overtime and some work on the weekend. Therefore, the applicant must have a strong commitment to work. One of your questions might be, “What would you do if you won a million dollars?” A person with a low work ethic will tend to talk about what vacations they would take or the fun they would have with so much money. A person with a high work ethic might talk of ways to use the money for further achievement. Or you could have them describe their typical day. You would listen for non-productive versus productive activities they pursued to fill their spare time.

Questions to determine a person’s level of self-esteem are also important. Many of the candidates sent to us have very high self-esteem. This is understandable as these are the people who usually interview well. They are confident and self-assured giving the interviewer a false sense about them. As the John Beane/Staff Development Services Hiring Report points out having self-esteem is good but very high self-esteem can make a person hard to manage. A person’s self-esteem can be so high that they are delusional about their abilities and deny any personal faults or shortcomings. If they deny them, then they certainly are not willing to make changes to keep from repeating their mistakes.

When trying to determine a person’s self-esteem you could ask them to describe their positive and negative qualities. People with lower self-esteem will easily verbalize their negative qualities. People with moderate to high self-esteem will easily verbalize his or her positive as well as negative qualities. But a person with very high self-esteem will have a very hard time describing any negative qualities.

Following are some things you need to keep in mind during the interview:
1) Keep control of the interview. If the candidate talks but gets off track when answering a question (his or her detail tendency is probably low making it difficult for him to stay focused so make a note of this) steer them back on course.
2) Ask every candidate for a job the same core questions. This enables you to receive consistent and comparable information between all candidates.
3) Use silence to your advantage. Waiting in silence can be awkward for both you and the candidate. But resist the temptation to speak up. You may inadvertently prompt the candidate with clues to the response you want to hear. It also gives you an idea how they respond under pressure (make a note about this, especially if the position is one that does place some pressure on the candidate.)
4) Listen carefully to everything the applicant is saying, take good notes and keep them.
5) Always allow plenty of time and privacy for the interview.
6) Let the candidate know that you will let them know your decision one way or the other and an approximate time line in which you plan to do so.
7) Let others’ in the organization give you feedback on what they noted about the candidate by having someone else bring the candidate to you.

Good Luck!

By Staff Development Services
Law Firm Human Resources Consulting & Expert Witness
Over the past 20 years, John has conducted over a thousand seminars on a variety of topics associated with improving people's performance, helped firms put the right people into the right jobs, and spent hundreds of days helping organizations improve their overall performance.

Like every career path, John’s expertise in being able to match the right person to the right job has been a journey. His skills in dealing with employees are the result of years of trial and error while running his own business and managing nearly three-dozen employees. He took that knowledge and combined it with years of study in order to become a consultant and to share what he had learned to help others with what may be the most important element in a successful business—having the right people in the right job.

Copyright Staff Development Services

Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.

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