Interview questions and structured interviewing
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Smart Choices: How to Hire the Best

Judith Lindenberger

Your organization’s continued growth and success depend on
making smart choices and hiring the best. Today’s economy is
exploding with talent, allowing you to be selective about the staff
you hire. Yet, the crucial step to filling a position is finding the
right talent for your organization – someone that has the skills for
the job, easily blends with the culture, interacts well with the
team and believes in your mission.

In his best seller, Good to Great, Jim Collins writes, “In the
good-to-great transformation, people are not your most important
asset. The right people are.”

To help you learn how to hire the best, it is important to learn
about effective hiring and selection skills. Conducting a job
interview looks easier than it is. And that’s the problem.
According to studies based on the employment records of
thousands of management and line employees, little or no
correlation exists between the “positive reports” that emerge from
the typical job interview and the job performance of the candidates
who receive those glowing reports. However, this correlation goes
up dramatically whenever interviewing becomes a structured,
well-planned process – one that’s integrated into an
organization’s overall staffing practices.

Over the years, I have conducted numerous interviews and trained
even more managers on effective interviewing and selection
techniques. And I have gone on dozens of interviews. How the
interview is conducted tells me a lot about how the company
operates and the position.

If you are the one doing the interviewing, effective interviewing and
selection needs to be a structured, well-planned process. Here
are a few tips to get you started.

Before the interview:

Know what you need. You can easily miss this step because
you've got other responsibilities. Determine the key competencies
required before you interview. If you are hiring someone in sales,
for instance, create questions that will tell you whether the person
has good interpersonal and organizational skills.

Advertise the position. Don’t just advertise in your local
newspaper – cast your net even further!

Look at what works. What personality traits make someone a
good fit for your culture? Is your organization laid back or formal?
Do people work 9-5 or round the clock? Ask questions that will
help you determine whether the candidate will adapt well to your
organization’s culture.

Schedule multiple interviews. Conduct 15-minute telephone
interviews to screen out inappropriate candidates. Have key
people, those who will be working with the candidate, interview
the top candidates, and ask for their feedback.

During the interview:

Ask the right questions. Dig deep to find out whether a person is
more comfortable with details or the big picture; is a self-starter or
an order-taker. Create questions that will give you the answers
you need. If time management skills are required for instance,
you might want to ask, “What is your method for organizing your
day?” Compare what each candidate says to determine who is
strongest in this area.

Close your mouth and open your ears. Too often interviewers
turn an interview into a “grocery list” of their wants and needs.
Ask focused questions and then listen carefully. Take notes.

Go with your gut. If you did your homework – that is, determined
the key job requirements and asked questions that would
ascertain the skills required – the hiring decision should be a
natural next step. Sometimes, however, you can't put into words
why someone is or is not clicking with you. If you aren't sure
whether to trust your intuition, delay the decision for a day or two.

Here’s a final tip. After conducing all the interviews, I recommend
that you use a simple grid to help choose the best candidate.
Simply put the names of each candidate horizontally and put the
job requirements or key competencies vertically. Then make up a
scale from 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest rating. Rate each
candidate from 1 to 5 on each of the job requirements or
competencies. The person with the highest ratings is probably
your best choice.

Above all else, consider input from each of the interviewers and
trust your collective judgment. Put aside any and all stereotypes
and select the best person for the job.


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Interviewing Best Practices

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Line Manager / Recruiting Partnership


Pre-Planning & Retention

Reading the Candidate

Recruiting Basics

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