Estimated reading time: 2 minutes, 39 seconds

Finding the right person for a role may be the hardest part about having direct reports. Interviews give you a very short amount of time to assess and determine a person’s capability and fit, and much rides on these hour-long discussions, for both you and the candidate. So, make the most of your time by following best practices and avoiding a few fatal flaws of interviewing.

What You Should Do In An Interview

The following are some tried-and-true methods that make the most of an interview:

  • Do ask your candidate to tell you about him or herself. Every good interview should give the candidate the opportunity to showcase their skills, experience, and the reason that they should be the one to fill your open seat. 
  • Do establish a rapport. Ask about something innocuous to break the ice. This will bring the tension level down, prime the pump to get more candid answers to business questions, and make the rest of the interview smoother.
  • Do read the candidate’s resume beforehand. You want to make the most of the interview time and not spend time with the candidate reading over their background. Have an impression of this person so that you ask related questions about their background, experience, and character.
  • Do ask your candidate ‘canned’ questions. The questions, “Tell me about a time when…”, is standard fare for a reason. By choosing formulaic questions that pertain to the job, you can get a sense of how your candidate will respond in the new role. Also, asking the same canned question to every candidate gives you a level ground to measure your candidates on.
  • Do look for specific examples. Ask about past experiences and descriptions of a specific event or situation. If a candidate is vague or dodges the question, it may be a sign that they don’t have as much experience as you need for the role.
  • Do determine culture fit. Design some questions that are meant to ascertain if the individual will fit well within the current culture. Not everyone will work well in every environment.

What To Avoid In An Interview

There are fads and blunders that can detract from your efforts to find the right candidate, and the following are 2 prime examples:

  • Don’t ask ‘curve-ball’ questions. The broad, creative sounding question, “If you were an animal, which would you be?” might seem like you’re working to get some great insight into the candidate, but it wastes interview time. These questions are not only off-topic, but they take away from opportunities to ask more probing questions or follow-up questions.
  • Don’t ask questions that are ‘out of bounds’. In the US, there are a few topics that you just cannot ask about. Age, marital status, kids, religion, politics, and others are all no-fly zones.

Hiring Is A Process

It’s rare to have a “one-and-done” interview that finds the exact right fit the first time out, but it can happen. Most times, you will interview several candidates for a role. Keep in mind that choosing the right new hire is a process--each interview is a step toward ruling out the wrong candidates and finding the best.

Last modified on Tuesday, 20 August 2019
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