Because people are at the center of any successful business, hiring employees can be one of the biggest decisions small-business owners make. No matter what the position, you want to find the best candidate possible. But remember: You’re being interviewed, too. It’s just as important for you to make a good impression on a potential candidate as it is for her to make a good impression on you.
So here are some guidelines on how to give a great interview and hire the best candidate.
Do You Understand the Job’s Real Needs?
Start by writing a detailed job description. This will help you define exactly the kinds of skills and background you’re looking for in an employee. This is also a good time to make any adjustments to the scope or nature of the position, if you’re filling an existing job opening.
After you’ve written a job description, write the advertisement for the job. Give a brief overview of the company and the job, describe the ideal candidate for the position, and detail which communication method you prefer. The job title should match the job opening. This is also a good time to explain why your company is a great place to work, Mesia Quartano wrote for LatPro.com.1
Do You Have a Game Plan?
Next, sit down and decide what the interview and screening process will be for the position. It’s the fairest to candidates to be consistent and ask the same questions in each interview. When you schedule an interview, be clear about the process and let the candidate know who will be sitting in on the interview. The blog HR Lowdown2 suggested that if a candidate was was scheduled for a panel interview, for instance, she would want to know that so she could bring enough copies of her résumé.
Before you begin the process of hiring a new employee, understand how you want the interview process to work and make sure everyone on your team is on the same page.
Thoroughly read the résumé and cover letter and get to know the background of the candidate prior to the interview. You might even do a quick Google search on the candidate for any obvious red flags or points of interest. Just as you would expect any decent candidate to have done his homework on you and your business, return the courtesy.
In addition to being polite, really get to know the candidate’s background so you can ask the most probing and revealing questions during the interview. The goal of the interview, broadly, should be to find out about the candidate’s background, why the candidate is interested in working for you, and what the candidate thinks he will bring to the position. Take notes during the interview so you can refer back to them later.
Consider Body Language
Body language will tell you more about a candidate than almost anything she says. And although you want to take notes about what the person is saying, you don’t want to overlook what she’s doing while she’s answering your questions.3
A clammy handshake, arms folded across the chest, slouchy posture, and weird foot tapping can all be clues that this is not a person you’d want to work with every day.
Illegal Interview Questions
Of course you want to ask the most probing questions you can in an interview to help you get the best sense of the candidate, but there are some questions you’re absolutely not allowed to ask. Generally speaking, these questions are those that are so personal in nature, they’re not really pertinent to the job. It’s a fine line between getting to know the real person and overstepping your bounds as a potential employer.
USA Today4 touched on the questions that are illegal to ask in an interview. If a candidate volunteers his age, religion, family status, or other such information, fine. Just quickly move on to another, appropriate, topic.
For more information, visit:
1. “The 5 Characteristics of Highly Successful Job Postings—Tips for Effective Online Recruiting”
2. “How to: Interview a Job Candidate”
3. “The Interview: Body Language Do’s and Don’ts”
4. “Illegal Interview Questions”