Conducting Interviews

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In most corporations, Human Resource managers and senior level staff conduct many of the interviews after an initial screening process. However, in smaller companies, individuals who do not regularly participate in these sessions, may be called upon to be part of a group interview, or asked to speak with students seeking internships, or other low- profile or entry level positions.If you find yourself in this potentially uncomfortable position, here are some tips for handling this important task:

Before the interview, brainstorm about the qualities that you and your team are seeking in the candidate. These characteristics go beyond the obvious required technical or professional expertise or experience. Your list may include qualities such as:

  • Passion about what he/she will be doing
  • Outgoing personality
  • Thoughtful and considerate disposition/attitude
  • Mentoring/nurturing communication style
  • Sense of humor
  • Well-rounded person with diverse interests
  • Desire to push boundaries and inspire team members
  • Good time manager

Once you have created your “ideal” candidate in your mind, you can formulate questions that will help guide you in your selection process. Here are some examples:

  • How do you typically handle multiple projects and deadlines? (ability to prioritize, delegate, manage time)
  • Who or what inspires you? (passion)
  • How would you describe your work ethic? (reliability, punctuality, etc.)
  • What projects have you spear-headed? (initiation, leadership, etc.)
  • How do you prefer to give and provide feedback? (communication style)
  • What kind of work environment do you thrive in? (collaborative vs. independent, fast-paced or laid-back, flexible or structured, etc.)

What if you aren't getting the answers you seek? As the interviewer, you maintain control of the conversation, and can probe or push back as needed. Some helpful comments might include:

  • Can you give me a little more background on that particular problem and how you handled it?
  • I’d like to hear more details or specifics about....
  • I’m afraid I’m not following what you meant by...
  • What exactly did you mean when you said....
  • I’m really interested in hearing more about...
  • Can you tell how that issue finally got resolved?

A different style of interviewing using the behavioral-based interview questions. Give the interviewee a situation and ask how he responded. This will give you insight into how he would respond in the new position. For example, “Tell me a time when you had to work on a team and the leader was not accomplishing the goals. What did you do?”

Finally, make sure that the candidates take advantage of the opportunity to ask YOU questions (by Joseph). If they don’t inquire, it may mean that they haven’t done their homework about the position, or the company.

Remember, specific skill training can happen on the job, but you need to make sure you hire someone who will fit in with the culture of your company, and the other employees who may be part of the team.