If your company is hiring right now, chances are good that you’re being flooded by candidates, all of whom are anxious for a job, many of whom are fully qualified for the position. You’ve read through dozens or hundreds of resumes, and out of them, you’ve picked the top few candidates to come in and be interviewed. This is the first time that you meet these candidates, and your decision on who is the best fit could impact your company for better or worse for years to come. So how to do you prepare for and run an effective interview to get the information you need to pick the best candidates? Pick up the Phone The first thing you should do is quick phone interview with your prospective candidates. You can learn a lot about them, and they can learn a lot about your company. This can help you weed out some candidates without wasting yours or their time by making them come in. This is a great time to ask about salary history, again, so you don’t waste time on a candidate you simply can’t afford. Take Your Time No matter how desperate you are for an employee, take your time with the hiring process. There is no need to schedule eight interviews for the same day.
If you do, the candidates will start to blend together in your mind, you’ll be rushed to get them in and out to keep on schedule, and ultimately, you’ll burn out, which isn’t fair to them or you. Give yourself plenty of time, both for interviewing and deciding. Picking an employee is a huge decision. Take the time to do it right. Be Prepared Know what you’re going to ask in advance. Make a list of the qualities that you’re looking for in candidates, and write down interview questions that will address them. Make the questions open ended, so candidates will be encouraged to open up. And make sure that you know what questions you aren’t allowed to ask. For a good article on illegal interview questions, check out about.com. Establish a Dialog
The goal of the interview should be for you to learn as much about the candidate as possible, and for the candidate to learn about your company. Ask your questions, and listen carefully to their responses. If they say something interesting, question them more on that. Ask questions about specific situations and how they would handle being in them. Talk about the position you’re hiring for, including specific tasks and skills that are needed. Encourage the candidates to ask questions about the company, an answer them as honestly and fully as they are answering yours. Remember, interviews are about both parties deciding if this would be a match, so give your candidates enough information to decide if they want the job. In establishing a dialog, however, you need to be careful not to make promises about a potential job, or talking like they already have it. Don’t promise things like guaranteed job security, because as we’re seeing now, anything can happen. Summarize the Interview Following an interview, it’s always a good idea to go back to your office and write down some thoughts about the candidate: interesting things they’d said, unique experiences they’ve had, general thoughts on personality.
As you go on to interview more and more people, you’ll appreciate the notes. And you also might want to take time afterwards to speak with anyone else who was involved in the interview process. I know when I was interviewing people, talking with my manager about each candidate helped us both put them in the right perspective.