How To Interview Someone....or How to Know What They Are Not Telling You.
The Person You Hire Is Representing YOUR Business
Hiring the right person for the job is essential for the success of your business. Hiring the wrong person will cost you dearly both in time and money. Remember the person you hire will be representing your business to your precious and hard earned customers, so you want to make sure the employee will take that responsibility seriously. Do the interview process correctly and you will have a far better idea about who the potential candidate is and if she is the right fit for your business.
They Are Going To Tell You What They Think You Want To Hear
There is far more to interviewing than just listening to the applicants answers. Remember they are going to tell you what you want to hear because they either need or want the job. You want someone who wants this job not just a job. It can be overwhelming to realize that you will need to get to know someone with just a half hour conversation and a good part of your decision to hire her, or not, will be based on that conversation. Below are some tricks I have learned over the last twenty seven years of running a business and hiring hundreds of people. I welcome you to learn from my mistakes and successes.
Set The Tone
It is up to you to set the tone of the interview. I try to keep things fairly informal and casual to help both the candidate and myself relax. If she is relaxed she will talk more openly and you have a better chance of getting to know her. To help set the tone, avoid putting a desk between you and the applicant. That can imply superiority and may intimidate the applicant. Instead, sit in a professional, but open atmosphere, such as two easy chairs with a coffee table between you.
When the applicant arrives for the interview, don't be rude and keep her waiting as her time is important too. Greet her with a smile, a handshake and thank her for coming.
Is She Professional?
Take notice of her appearance and demeanour. Is she dressed appropriately for the type of job she is applying for? If she is dressed too casually and not neatly groomed for an interview, you can bet it will only get worse once she has the job. Even if the position you are hiring for doesn't call for a certain dress code, you want a potential employee to show respect by showing up neat and clean and professional.
Listen To What He/She Is Not Saying
Help her relax with a minute or two of pleasant general small talk while you are taking your seats; the weather or traffic will do nicely. Once the interview has started you want her to do most of the talking. You need to be listening carefully to what she is saying, and just as important, what she is not saying. You also need to be watching her body language. Body language, which includes eye contact, can reveal a great deal. Speaking of body language be aware of your own. Don't cross your arms or fiddle with a pencil. Let her know you are listening to her and are open to what she has to say. Here is a great article on body language.
Get A Feel For Her People Skills
Begin the question and answer process using her resume as a guide. Start with her last job. Try to keep the questions open ended and encourage her to explain further.
Here is an example.
Mary your resume says you were working at ABC Company for the last two years. What were your duties?
Mary will answer and you can get her to keep talking with questions like, What were your favorite parts of the job? What were the biggest challenges you faced in your job? Here is when you can glean some information that could be pertinent to you. For example, if Mary says it was a busy place and she loved working with the people and the job you have to offer entails her sitting in a cubicle working on a computer with little interaction with other people, it might not be a good fit. Alternatively if she found the constant hustle bustle and noise a challenge, maybe she would be suited for a job with a lot of solitude.
Can She/He Deal With Authority?
For every job she has had, ask her what her reason for her leaving was. If she bad mouths her last employer in a personal way, take note as this may signal she may have trouble dealing with authority and taking direction; or she may have had a bad boss. However if she continues to berate her past employers she may be confrontational and difficult to get along with. Though we have all had difficult bosses in the past, it is unprofessional to make personal comments about them to a prospective employer.
Do Your Homework! It Will Pay Off.
Ask her if you can phone her past employers for a reference. Watch her body language here. Does she look uncomfortable? You need to ask yourself why.
Another thing to watch for is someone who has had a lot of jobs for a short duration. If she is a job hopper she will likely hop away from your job soon after you have spent the time and money to train her. If your job takes little training and you have a high turnover of staff, this might not be a problem.
Also watch out for long periods of time between jobs. There could be legitimate reasons for this, such as raising children or an overcoming an injury, or it could be a job she hasn't put a job on her resume because it ended badly and she would prefer you don't know about it. Ask her to explain why she was not working for so long.
After you have asked her all your questions ask her if she has any questions. If her only questions are about wages and benefits and days off, she may not be the right person. If she asks questions pertinent to your business and seems genuinely interested, she might be the one.
Here are a few more tips. Even if you are very impressed with her, don't offer her the job right away. Do your homework and check her references. One question I always ask previous employers is "Would you hire her again?"
Look For Work Ethic Over Experience
Ask her what she likes to do on her time off. Her hobbies and interests can tell you quite a bit about her. Is she creative and is that a talent you could put to use? Is she a people person and belong to various clubs and organizations and would that be useful to your business?
Don't be overly swayed by the applicant's previous experience. Although similar previous experience can save on training costs, I have found many star employees by giving a person who impressed me with their attitude and work ethic a chance, even though their previous work experience was in unrelated fields. Work ethic is not something you can train into a person;they have it or they don't have it and if she has it, the time and money you spend on training her could pay off in spades and make your life as an employer so much easier.
Trust Your Gut
To finish, trust your gut. If some little thing in the back of your head is saying no, even if you can't quite put your finger on why, listen to it. And if the little voice is saying, hell yes, do your homework and if her references are good, listen to it. And remember you will not always get it right. We are dealing with human nature here and as we all know, sometimes that can be a challenge. If you find, after you hire her, that it was a mistake, cut your losses and start the search over. And if you find she is the star you were hoping for, do your best to keep her happy and hopefully you will both enjoy a long and mutually profitable relationship.