Interview questions and structured interviewing
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Tips for Conducting Successful Interviews

Your business' survival depends on hiring the right people. But finding the best employees can be tricky, and if you don't have the right interviewing skills, you risk losing a brilliant candidate — or worse — hiring a person that's not qualified for the job.

And in today's competitive job market, conducting effective interviews is more important than ever. While you're sizing up a candidate, that person is also considering you as a potential employer.

Here are some tips to help you effectively screen the candidate, make a good impression and ensure that the candidate gets the information they need about the job and your company.

Understand the purpose of the interview. Hiring the right person is the goal of interviewing, but not necessarily the purpose of an interview. An interview is your chance to collect information about the candidate sitting in front of you. It's your opportunity to find out if the applicant is qualified for a particular job, if they are truly interested in the available position and if they fit your company's culture.

Rethink your interviewing strategy. General questions like "Where do you see yourself in five years?" won't tell you much about the candidate sitting in front of you. That inquiry and many other standard interview questions sidestep what you really need to know - how the person will perform in a specific role. To find and hire smart employees you have to adopt smart interviewing tactics that uncover a candidate's abilities, talents, strengths and weaknesses.

Develop a list of desired skills. You can't formulate insightful questions until you know what skills to look for.

Create a list of interview questions. After you develop a list of skills, put together a list of interview questions that will help you learn more about the candidate. Construct open-ended questions that invite candidates to share information and talk about their experiences.

Today, many interviewers use behavior-based questions to discover how a person handled a situation in the past and to determine how they'll react to a similar situation in the future. Try posing questions such as "Tell me about a time that you missed a project deadline. What happened and how did you manage the problem?"

Check your list twice. Review your list of interview questions. You should have a good mix of opinion-based, credential-based, experienced-based and behavior-based questions that will provide a complete view of the candidate's background and personality.

Tell the applicant about the interview format.After you introduce yourself, put the candidate at ease by telling them the basic structure of the interview. You want them to relax, speak freely and provide detailed answers to your inquiries.

Prepare for questions. Make sure you have adequate information about the company to answer a candidate's questions. They may ask about your business' core functions, number of employees, future plans, culture or a variety of other things. Bring a media kit to the interview, or prepare a fact sheet that lists relevant company data and history.

Take notes. Interviewing requires superb listening skills, but listening isn't enough. Capture the details of the interview on paper to jog your memory, noting key actions and outcomes. Taking objective notes and recording responses will help you compare candidates when it's time to make a hiring decision.


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