Despite what the national economic news may indicate, I’ve been doing a fair amount of interviewing and hiring lately. Some of the new hires will fill new positions and some will be replacements for departed employees. We’re probably indicative of lots of organizations that have determined they can’t wait any longer to build stronger organizations while they wait for more signs of economic improvement and are experiencing some employee turnover as people have more confidence that there are opportunities out there in a loosening job market.
While some people don’t enjoy the prospect of looking to fill open slots, I have a different perspective. Bringing in a new hire is an opportunity to add someone who fits the organization’s technical and cultural needs. There are lots of ways to assess a candidate’s skills and fit. The better we managers are at getting that right, the more likely employees are to stay and prosper.
I know that all the candidates I talk with probably receive more job interview advice than they can use – be on time, dress appropriately (blend in with the company culture), express yourself (but not too much), make a statement, don’t offend, do your homework, be prepared with questions, be prepared to answer questions, be honest (or present the best face possible), etc. But, how about the managers holding the interviews? You want to attract the right and best candidate you can as they do have a choice.
Well much of the same advice can be applied to job interviewers.
Be on time: This shouldn’t even require discussion – your failure to respect a candidate’s time suggests that your organization isn’t respectful of employees in other areas as well. This isn’t the message you want to send to prospective employees.
Dress appropriately: This doesn’t really mean you have to wear a shirt and tie each day, but does mean that you want to make an impression on candidates just as much as they want to impress you. Present yourself and the job attractively but honestly – too much “makeup” may suggest you’re trying to cover something up or may fool candidates into thinking they’re getting something that looks different in the harsh light of day.
Do your homework: If you have the luxury of having a candidate’s application or resume before the interview, spend some time learning about the person, the companies they’ve worked for and any other pertinent information (education, trade or volunteer organizations, etc.). Do those companies look like yours or are they very different? One easy place to start is with a person’s email address if the application includes that or was submitted electronically. Can you learn something about a candidate who goes by “handyman19” versus “mstbedreamin”? I don’t recommend asking someone for their Facebook login, but you can check out Google, LinkedIn or other social media sites and follow-up during the interview if you find things that you have questions about.
Be prepared: This is the logical follow-up to the above. It’s a good idea to have a standard set of questions for each position you’re filling. That makes it easier to compare candidates and reduces the risk of discriminatory hiring practices. It’s also good to add questions that arose when you looked over the application or resume; why did the candidate leave a certain job, what were the exact responsibilities of a particular position, what did they do during any employment gaps?
Prepare to answer questions: Don’t wing it – this is serious. You are laying the foundation for a potential future relationship. If you are casual about this, candidates may interpret that as the way you’ll handle things in the future. Also, the advice about too much “makeup” applies here too. It’s important to give accurate answers to a candidate’s questions so you don’t end up with a mismatch later on.
Good interviewing and hiring practices are the building blocks of good employee relationships throughout their time in your company. If managers don’t get this right, they’re setting themselves and the company up for problems later on. Have you heard complaints from employees who say they “didn’t know it was going to be like this” or from supervisors or trainers who say “you told me they had experience?” It’s never too early to start setting clear expectations to make sure there’s a fit. Both parties suffer equally when there isn’t.
By, Nancy Lane, Human Resource Manager at Red Book Solutions and B2A, LLC – 30 years of experience in education, medical imaging, oil & gas and business services.