How to Conduct an Interview to Prevent Hiring Mistakes

Person looking at candidates for hiring and asking questions

The personal interview is unquestionably the most essential step in the process of hiring a new employee.  Sorting through potential candidates can be difficult, time-consuming, and stressful.  If the wrong candidate is hired for the job, he or she may not be able to take on the responsibilities and perform the tasks expected of him.  However, being a successful and competent interviewer can prevent these mistakes in hiring.  In this article, you’ll learn some tips on how to create a dynamic, positive, comfortable and discerning interview. 

Pre-Interview:

Prepare

To make savvy hiring decisions, you have to know exactly what you’re looking for.  Before the interview, familiarize yourself with the position to be filled, including the skills, responsibilities, knowledge, and behaviors that it requires.  Carefully reread the candidate’s resume, and make notes of what you’d like to discuss in person.

Screen

Perform screening and background checks on all potential employees.  A good screening process will help to eliminate problem employees before they are ever hired.

Check References

Inquire into the legitimacy and quality of the references provided by the applicant.  If not listed on the resume, ask for the names of the applicant’s last three employers.  Call to verify the information on the application, and ask if the employers would ever hire the candidate again, given the chance.  This can provide good insight into the candidate’s previous performance.

The Interview:

Set the Tone

Create a calm and respectful atmosphere in which the interview can take place.  You can accomplish this by beginning the meeting with a brief personal introduction, mentioning your name, background, and position in the company.  Building a rapport with the candidate both ensures an interview that is as comfortable as possible and facilitates self-disclosure on the part of the candidate.

Be a Representative

Do not forget that you are being interviewed, too.  You want to make a good impression on the candidate, on behalf of yourself and the company. Be well-versed and ready to talk about the organization and the job at hand.

Question Well

Asking the right questions makes you, as a manager, more likely to select the best applicant for the job. A good set of questions allows you to become acquainted with the individual’s behavior, values, motivations, strengths, weaknesses, and qualifications.

Starting questions with “How,” “What,” and “Why” is an effective means of avoiding simple one-word answers from the applicant.  Ask task- behavior- and situation-specific questions.  Discuss prior positions, advancements, and job transitions with the applicant. The best interview adheres to a structure.  Ask all applicants for the position the same questions and score them with a consistent rating process.

Some good sample questions include:

  • Tell me about yourself. (Review education, early influences, significant accomplishments, and past employment)
  • Why are you interested in this position? How do your qualifications match this job’s requirements?
  • Describe a situation in which you or your work was criticized.  How did you resolve the problem and mediate the situation?
  • Describe an incident in which you went above and beyond your “job description.”
  • How do you perform under pressure?
  • How would you describe your leadership skills and management style?

Write It Down

Take notes during the interview, so that your memory is triggered when the time comes to review the meeting.  The more applicants you interview for the position, the more crucial note-taking becomes.

End of Interview

Save a few minutes at the end of the interview for the candidate’s questions. You can learn a lot by the type of questions he or she poses. Are they insightful? Does the candidate seem genuinely interested and engaged?

Post-Interview:

Reviewing the qualities each candidate possesses will allow you to recognize and select the one most suited to and qualified for the job at hand.

Qualification

Does the candidate have the experience and requisite skill set to excel at this job? Is the candidate serious, enthusiastic, and insightful?

Leadership

Will the candidate be able to plan and execute solutions to challenges that arise on the job? Will he or she take advantage of meaningful opportunities?

Potential

Will the candidate be able to advance to take on larger and more responsible roles in the organization?

Study your hiring practices and related outcomes to determine whether there are specific areas in which to improve.  Interviewing is a time-consuming and costly process for an organization.  As such, measures should be taken to make it as efficient and effective as possible.