We’ve posted previously about how prospective employees can improve their interview techniques, but how about some information for those conducting the interviews?
Hiring managers aren’t above scrutiny and we could all use a refresher now and then. So enjoy these five tips on what to avoid while speaking with potential candidates, and what you can replace those bad habits with.
1. Don’t make yourself the focus
Just as you want your candidate to have direct answers to your questions (without providing you their entire life story), you shouldn’t go too deep into your own history, either at this company, your personal life or with previous employment.
The candidate is likely to ask you about your role with the company, perhaps how long you’ve been there and how you like your position. Those are completely reasonable questions to ask and to have answered, yet the focus should go back to the candidate after you reply.
Do: Push the focus back to the candidate when answering questions from them. Ending an answer with “Why do you ask?” or “Is that something that’s important to you?” will allow them to keep discussing themselves and gives you a better idea of what they’re thinking.
If you need to give some background on yourself, do your best to keep that description to under 60 seconds. Also, make sure you end the interview by asking them two things: 1. If they have any further questions for you about the position or the company and 2. Whether there’s anything else they’d like to share that you hadn’t covered.
2. Don’t rehash the past
While you want to learn more about your candidate’s work history, knowing how they reacted previously to certain situations (even ones that you encounter daily at your own company) doesn’t answer how they’ve learned from those decisions and what they’d do currently. They’re not trying to prove their worth by simply what they’ve done before; they’re earning your trust that they can do well currently and in the future.
Do: You may ask questions relating to how they’d react to current issues or everyday tasks, but be sure to phrase them in the present (for example: “If you encountered a problem here that relates to FILL IN THE BLANK, how would you go about resolving it?”).
3. Don’t go by their rèsumè alone
You have a human being in front of you (or over the phone) with goals, dreams, passions and emotion. There’s more that they can tell you about themselves face to face or voice to voice than they can in a fairly standard, regimented document. Use their rèsumè as a blueprint, but don’t let it be the end-all, be-all of the conversation.
Do: Ask them about certain talents, positions and companies they’ve worked for previously, as well as what they hope to gain from this job. Getting them to be expressive and showcase their personality as they discuss their career can tell you what you want and more about the type of employee they’ll be.
4. Don’t mislead them about the position
You want your select candidate to stay for the long haul, so you’ll need to avoid them being shocked by a sudden change of how things operate early on or worse, potentially leaving shortly after being hired. You shouldn’t scare them off from the daily pressures you feel, but providing the truth about workflow, management chains and the company or department goals will spell things out early on.
Do: Be honest about what you expect of the candidate, but also of what the candidate should expect from the company. Be able to answer questions directly, and also explain to them aspects of the job that you would’ve liked to have known early on.
5. Don’t make vague, unorthodox requests
There’s a safe amount of nerves that come into play while being interviewed, but those nerves increase tenfold when put on the spot to do something uncharacteristic during the discussion. For instance, let’s say your candidate has sung for a band or joined a choir. It’s extremely detrimental to the process if you ask them to immediately sing something — anything. They’re prepared to discuss their career motivations and expertise, not give you a private concert. Another request to avoid is to have them candidate teach you something right then and there, without them knowing what you do and don’t already know. This is behavior that almost belittles the employee and guaranteed, you will see them exhibit signs of distress.
Do: If you would like to learn about their methods of instruction or leadership, phrasing your request in a manner such as “Tell me about how you’d explain FILL IN THE BLANK to someone who might not know about it.” That already sounds better than the abrupt, open-ended “Teach me something,” doesn’t it? Or if they have a passion outside of work, inquire more about it rather than putting them on the spot to show you their talents. If you won’t be hiring them to sing, dance or shoot a basketball, then those should play no part in the interview process.
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