Hiring: The interview

Jan. 17, 2017
You have a list of good candidates. Now it's time to meet them.

You’ve narrowed down the list of candidates and you’ve established a process to use for all face-to-face interviews. Now it’s time to bring the potential employees in so you can really get to know them to determine if they are a good fit for your organization.

“Fit” is very important because statistics show that 57% of new hires fail within the first 18 months on the job and 46% of those failed due to cultural issues (only 11% failed because they lacked the skills to complete the job successfully). What is even more startling is that 82% of managers say they saw red flags during the interview process but did not act on them.

While it is important that you ask the candidate about his or her skills, even more critical is asking questions about behavior. Behavior-based interviewing is founded on the premise that past behavior predicts future performance.

To develop behavior-based questions, go back to the job descriptions and select competencies that are most important to your situation. Then ask the right questions around those competencies. Use phrases like “tell me about a time…” to get the interviewee to tell you a story about what they’ve done in a situation in the past.

Other phrases LinkedIn’s Ultimate Hiring Tooling Kit suggests you use include:

  • Describe a situation where…
  • Give me an example of a time when…
  • Recall a time when you had to…

In order to be fair to all candidates, you need to ask the same questions to each person you are interviewing. And you must also have a way of evaluating their responses. There is a right and a wrong answer to each question and you need to determine what those are. It is important to be very aware of your own culture and employees when deciding what is a right answer.

For example, if the boss of a potential new hire is a hands-off manager but the candidate’s response to the question, “tell me about your best boss” indicates that their best boss was someone who supervised them closely, they are probably not a good fit.

Your evaluation form does not have to be complex. You can use a simple 1 to 5 scale to indicate how you felt the person’s answers best matched each of your criteria. Remember the purpose of the evaluation is to measure the candidates against your culture and against each other.

When you find the right candidate, hire them. Don’t waste time. Proceed with the hiring process and begin background and reference testing, etc. At this point, it is okay to ask the candidate if they are interviewing elsewhere and to ask if they will contact you before accepting another position.

This next piece of advice will seem contradictory, but even though you have tendered a job offer, keep interviewing other candidates. A lot can happen between when a job offer is made and when the person actually begins working. Should the candidate you initially select fall through, you will not have to begin the hiring process all over again if you continue to interview while waiting for the new hire to begin their job.

My next blog will focus on background and reference checks.

About the Author

Jane Clark | Senior VP of Operations

Jane Clark is Senior Vice President, Operations for NationaLease. Prior to joining NationaLease, Jane served as Area Vice President for Randstad, one of the nation’s largest recruitment agencies, and before that, she served in management posts with QPS Companies, Pro Staff, and Manpower, Inc.

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