In my first article, we explored: how to define the best employee for your company’s needs. Once we had a picture of what that looked like, we needed to know how to identify the candidate. The initial part of this was described in my last article. We defined: what a good resume looks like and how to qualify candidates through a phone interview.
The last piece—and perhaps the most impactful—is the face-to-face interview. Many interviewers forget that not only is this an interview for the candidate, it is also an interview for the company. The best performers look for a position that offers challenge and growth as well as utilizing the candidate’s strengths. The best performers also look for a good fit with the company culture and a compensation package that meets his or her needs.
The best thing a manager can do in this situation is to be honest about the position—describe the highlights as well as the rough spots. You don’t want the candidate to experience any surprises when they come into the position; otherwise, you may be starting the recruiting process all over!
Once the candidate arrives, you want him or her to feel comfortable. This helps the candidate get a feel for the environment, and it also encourages the candidate to be honest and show his or her true personality. To demonstrate this, I share the following example: I once conducted an interview with a candidate for a customer service position. She became very comfortable, and our time together became less like an interview and more like a conversation. Because she was so comfortable, when I asked her a question, she responded with an answer that included inappropriate language. At that moment, I knew that if she felt comfortable using that language in front of an interviewer, she probably would have no problem saying the same thing to customers. This made it clear that she was not the right person to put in front of our customers.
Sometimes people forget the basics of an interview. Take time to prepare for the interview and be sure to arrive on time. Develop rapport with the candidate. Ask if she or he needs a beverage or anything else to feel comfortable. These are all things that will help you to get to know the “real” candidate.
When asking the interview questions, make sure you can be somewhat conversational. Even though you may need to write notes (make sure your notes do not contain any “illegal” information such as age, race, gender, family information, etc.), you want to establish a fair amount of eye contact and let the conversation flow.
It’s a good idea to spend a little time reviewing and recapping the person’s resume. Ask about each past position and why the person left, just as in the telephone interview. Once you have worked through this, you then need to focus on other things.
Generally, you should focus 20 percent of the questions on the position description that you created and 80 percent of the questions on commitment, personality, work ethic, and other important characteristics applicable to the position. Many times the duties involved in a position description can be taught; however, commitment, personality and work ethic are very hard to instill in an employee who does not display positive characteristics.
To ensure that your interview process is not discriminatory and you are finding the best candidate without regard to protected class or status, make sure your questions are legal and that you are asking consistent, structured questions to each candidate.
To develop these questions, you need to identify what characteristics you desire in the candidate. Behavioral questions (questions that ask about a specific behavior in the candidate’s past) are particularly impactful, because they show how the candidate acted in the past, which is a very good indication of future behavior. For instance, to identify a candidate who is innovative you can ask, “Describe a creative original effort that you have recently made,” and then listen for innovations or an application of existing concepts. You can develop each question around the characteristic that you desire.
Once you have identified a final candidate, you will want to bring that person in for a second interview with the person’s supervisor (if they have not met already) or other team members. Make sure the second interview has a purpose, like department fit or company culture; otherwise, you may end up with people who disagree with your decision, but who are not necessarily using the right criteria to choose the right fit.
Finally, once you have that “best candidate,” make sure you know where the candidate is in the process. Ask the question, “If I offered you this position right now, what would prevent you from accepting it?” Depending on the candidate’s answer, you can prepare yourself for adjusting the offer if necessary.
Hopefully, once you are through this process, you will have a great employee that truly contributes to your company.
By Annelise Larson, Human Resource Consultant, PHR
Founded in 1999, EMPO Corporation is a leading Human Resource Outsourcing (HRO) and Professional Employer Organization (PEO). EMPO services all markets with specialties in the manufacturing, professional services and nonprofit sectors. For more information on EMPO Corporation and other human resource related topics, visit www.empocorp.com.