The Best Approach To Interviewing Prospective Employees

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By Erica L. Fener

Your company is growing, and you’re looking for more good people to help carry the load and take your services or products to the next level. You’ve posted your available jobs and you’re combing your networks, looking for qualified candidates. You’ve done your homework; you’ve sifted through piles and piles of resumes and emails. Now, it’s time to think about interviewing the applicants whose resumes and cover letters exhibit potential and whose credentials fall in line with what you’re looking for. You think you’ve found some potential “fits,” so how do you ultimately make your decision?

Here’s a roundup of tips for using interviews to find the best employees.

Make the Interview Casual
Many candidates often feel uncomfortable in an interview situation, regardless of their experience and expertise. Let the interviewee know that the interview is casual, and that they can ask questions any time they’d like. This should relax the atmosphere and the candidate, and they’ll feel less inhibited.

Asking the Right Questions
Seasoned interviewers usually have a selection of questions, tried and true, that can extract exactly the right information from a candidate, telling the interviewer exactly what they need to know. Such things as job skills, job fit, and cultural fit are all important, so your batch of general questions should focus on these things. You’ll want to craft questions that help you assess any prospective employee’s work experience to get an idea of how they interact with other people in a typical work environment.

An example of a question to ask a potential employee is one that tells you about their individual values and what they consider important. You may ask them what has been their greatest achievement at work, and their answer should tell you a little bit about their priorities. Inquiring about the candidate’s preferred “work environment” further helps you evaluate that candidate’s “fit” in your company’s culture.

You’ll want to know about your prospective employee’s problem solving skills. Solving problems is a key to success in any job, regardless of the job description. You may ask the candidate to describe a time in which they had to overcome a major obstacle, how they overcame that obstacle, and what they learned from the experience. You’ll learn anything from what the candidate considers a problem, to their problem solving style, as well as how they interact with coworkers in stress situations.

You’ll also want a series of general questions to get a feel for where your potential employee stands, professionally. If the applicant is employed, inquiring as to why they are leaving their current employer will tell you more about their values, outlook, goals and needs, as well as what prompted their job search.

Evaluating Behavior and Mannerisms
The behavior and mannerisms of a potential employee can be very telling. Pay attention to what’s not being said in the interview, and you should be able to make an assessment of the candidate’s confidence, organization and attention to detail.

For example, the interview will start with a handshake. Did the candidate display confidence in the handshake? A firm handshake, with purpose, coupled with eye contact and a smile will tell you about the candidate’s level of confidence, how they interact with others, and should set the stage for a successful interview.

Next, pay attention to the level of engagement your potential employee displays during the interview. They should continue making eye contact, and compose themselves in a way that lets you know they are paying attention and actively processing the information you’re giving them. Also, pay attention to any questions they have, as the amount and kind of questions they ask will help you gauge their level of engagement. Lastly, does the candidate seem hopeful or eager upon completion of the interview? Or are they anxious to leave?

Along with body language and mannerisms, any supporting materials a candidate may bring to the interview will help you make your assessment. Providing a portfolio of work or visuals to support their expertise shows attention to detail and organization, both good qualities to look for in a potential employee.

With a focus on good questions, behavior and mannerisms, you will be able to pick out the best candidate for your job opening. Consider tweaking your approach over time, with feedback from employees you’ve already interviewed. In addition, be sure you are as prepared as possible, because rushed or incomplete interviews are a waste of time. With all of this in mind, and pending a background check, your company will continue to grow with the right people.

Erica L. Fener, Ph.D., is Vice President, Business Development Strategy and Analysis at Progressus Therapy. Progressus Therapy helps their candidates start their school-based speech pathology careers and connects them to other therapy related early intervention service opportunities.

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