Niles Associates, Inc
Interviewing from the Employer's Perspective

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Candidates frequently get professional help with their resumes and professional coaching on how to interview. Managers frequently are told to "Just do it!"
This is not intended as a primer on interviewing. Here we address just a few of the basics. For in-depth information and assistance, tap the thousands of books, articles, videos, coaches, websites, etc. to help you hone your interviewing skills.
Interview Styles
The style is a choice based on what is comfortable to you. In reality, a blend of styles is generally how the interviewing process proceeds.
  • Behavioral Interviewing
    • Currently gaining popularity.
    • Based on the premise that past behavior and performance are good predictors of future behavior and performance.
    • Look for transferable, self-management and content skills.
    • Theoretical questions place the candidate in a hypothetical situation.
    • Open-ended questions often begin with "Describe...", "Tell me...", "Help me understand...", etc. in a effort to elicit examples of past experience that relates to job functions.
    • Candidates are often coached to respond to behavior-based questions by stating a problem, explaining the action taken to address the problem, and the (highly successful) result!
  • Non-Directive Interviewing
    • Free-flowing, akin to a chat.
    • Candidate relaxes and may reveal information that would not come up in a structured setting.
    • A skilled non-directive interviewer stays focused on the goals and can elicit valuable information.
  • Checklist / Outline  
    • Interviewer works from an outline.
    • Checklist to note candidate responses.
    • Challenging to the interviewee.
PREPARATION
 Know the job
Thoroughly immerse yourself in the position. The better the preparation, the more accurate the selection process.

Exactly what are the functions? Allot a percentages of time that is expected to be devoted to each.

Exactly what are the deliverables? Have a time line in mind for each of the deliverables.

Exactly what are the requirements? Break down the requirements into experience, personal traits, knowledge, degrees, certifications, etc., and, especially past performance.

 Legalities
Know what protected class is all about and how to avoid asking illegal questions. Know, too, the difference between discrimination based on these classes vs. a Bona Fide Occupational Qualification (BFOQ).

Be familiar with the Americans With Disabilities Act.

It's not always what you ask, but how you ask it. For example, it is OK to explain attendance requirements and leave policy (that which is documented in the company handbook), and then ask if the person can meet these requirements. It is not OK to ask how many days the person missed from work last year because of illness.

 Clear your mind
Your purpose isn't necessarily to find someone in your own image! Remain open to everyone, no matter your first impression.

It's not how well the candidate interviews, but how well the candidate will perform on the job. Be prepared to dig into the candidate's past performance for a good indicator of job performance promise.

CONDUCTING THE INTERVIEW
  • Control
    • Put yourself in control of the process. Whatever your style, have a plan going in that is based on getting the information you are seeking.
    • Ask questions, listen carefully, and keep candidates focused. Interrupt rambling answers with polite but clear direction.
    • Control does not mean you do all the talking. While you are there to share information on the position and the company, your primary goal is to gather information on the candidate.
 
  • Focus
    • Know the deliverables of the position and set out to learn how well the candidate is likely to achieve them.
    • Cultural fit is very important, but it is significant only if the candidate meets the requirements. Hold back on the emotion, for it can mislead you.
 
  • Salary Issues
    • It should have been established prior to the initial interview that the candidate's salary expectations and what the position can generate are compatible.
    • Wait until strong mutual interest is established before getting into compensation details.
    • General compensation structure is fine to share at any time.
 
  • Negativism
    • If a candidate speaks negatively about past employers and or bosses, it's a fairly sure bet the same type of comments would be directed at you. Consider it a red flag.

EVALUATING AND COMPARING CANDIDATES
  • Matrix of required and preferred experience, performance, traits, etc. is a helpful tool.
    • List required and preferred skill sets, experience, achievements, traits, etc. on one axis, candidates names on the other axis.
    • Rate each candidate on each item (one-to-five, five-to-ten, whatever suits you), tally and compare.
    • When multiple interviewers are involved, each should complete the matrix separately, then all compare notes. It can make for interesting discussion, for we all process information based on our own experiences and attitudes.

  • Emotion
    • Basing a decision on emotion alone is risky, but making your gut reaction a part of the decision is valid.

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