Interview tips that pay off in good hires

The Seven Fundamentals of ManagementHow many times have you had to ask yourself, “How did that person ever get hired?” More than likely it was because managers didn’t follow good interview tips and techniques.

The interview offers the most room for error. It’s  ripe for misinterpretation, misunderstanding and just plain missing the mark.

Just about every other piece of the hiring process has fairly narrow boundaries and focus.

For instance there’s the cover letter.

It’s foolish to rely solely on the content of a cover letter to make a hiring decision. The cover letter tells the candidate’s basic goals and outstanding qualities. Remember, no one ever said, “Gee, we made a mistake in hiring him because of his cover letter.”

Then there’s the application. It’s usually pretty straightforward, name, rank and serial number. Few answers are open to interpretation, and if they are, you need a better application form..

Finally, there is the resume. You can brush aside the glitter to see whether the applicant has the basics of what you’re looking for. Some experienced interviewers don’t even look at the resume, to avoid being influenced by what the candidate wants the interviewer to know, rather than what the interviewer wants to know.

You’re the chairperson

Without following some good interview tips, the interview thing can go off  track quickly with disastrous results for everyone.

Here are some proven interview tips that keeps things on track and helps ensure you get the best possible hire out of the process.

Begin by thinking of yourself as the chairperson. It’s up to you to set the agenda and keep it moving in the right direction. You can do that, after the formal introductions and greetings, by giving the applicant a summary of what’s to be accomplished.

  •  Describe your role in the company and the position for which the candidate is being interviewed.
  • Outline the parts of the meeting. For example, you could say, “We have a good opportunity for the right individual. I’d like to spend the first part of our meeting by telling you a little bit about our company. Then we’ll discuss your background and I’ll give you a chance to ask questions.”

Describing the organization

Explaining the company effectively and favorably is an important and often overlooked part of the interview.

The interview is a two-way street in that the candidate is interviewing you while you’re interviewing the candidate. What that means is that you should be selling your company as the type of place where the candidate wants to work.

Now, an interviewer may be thinking, “Well, the candidate is the one who wants the job. Why should I have to act as if our company is under the microscope?”

The answer is simple: Mediocre or poor candidates really won’t care about the company history and goals. Those candidates just want a job, any job. Strong candidates, however, are looking for a proven, high-performance place to build a career. If you don’t portray your company as that kind of place, you’ll end up attracting and hiring a lot of mediocre types, or worse.

A good interview creates an environment that attracts high-performance people.

Generally, after the introductions and welcoming formalities, you’ll want to kick off the interview with a brief rundown of:

  • Your company’s significant strengths and recent accomplishments and successes, including highlights that may have been covered in the general or industry news.
  • The strategies for growth – long term and short term — and how a good hire would fit into those strategies.
  • What makes your company different from others.
  • Success stories of recent hires – people who’ve been rewarded for hard work and top performance.

You should always have on hand a list of Top 10 questions to ask the candidate that pertain your work and the particular opening you are trying to fill.

3 Don’ts

A few don’ts about this part of the interview:

  1. Don’t oversell by trying to depict your company as perfect. There are good employers, but there are no perfect employers, and smart candidates know that. Emphasize your company’s strengths. There is no perfection.
  2. Don’t try to lift your company’s reputation by bad-mouthing a competitor. Negative campaigning attracts negative people.
  3. Don’t make promises. For instance, when discussing how others have succeeded, some interviewers are tempted to say, “And you’ll probably get a good raise after your first year.”

The interview is a bad time to make that kind of guarantee, and doing so could put the interviewer on shaky legal ground if the guarantee isn’t met.

This is the fourth in a series of articles on the 7 fundamentals of management. To see the other articles, please go to The 7 fundamentals of management page.

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