Proven interview strategies for making the best hiring decisions.
Having a carefully developed employee selection process is indispensable to your company’s success. In previous installments, I discussed the advantages of tailored structured interviews with up-front internet-based filters. I also recommended taking additional steps to cull out candidates who have excellent resumes and interview brilliantly, but fail to perform once on the job.
Also, be aware–that the best applicants will score high on basic cognition/intelligence, emotional intelligence (especially conscientiousness) and work task-related performance tests.
If you have a large batch of promising candidates, but not enough time or resources to interview all of them, consider using an online interview system like the service provided by InterviewStream, a company that records online interview videos for $30 to $60. You give them pre-recorded questions. Candidate responses are then captured via webcam. Your hiring managers can later assess the comparative quality of their answers and social skills at their convenience.
Selecting your interviewers
Having candidates deliver a panel presentation before your group interview is highly recommended, especially for training, public relations, sales and team-based positions. For example, a sales candidate could make a mock sales presentation on how they would pitch one of your products to a prospective client.
- If you are a large organization, HR may push to handle the entire employee selection process, especially if your department managers previously made poor hiring decisions based on unstructured, highly subjective interviews. –However, the best approach, based on research I’ve seen, is to include HR, if at all, primarily at the beginning, to ensure, e.g., that your applicant pool is diverse and meets basic company requirements.
- Then, with a carefully tailored structured interview in place, select your department’s interviewers. One popular and effective approach is to have the candidate interview sequentially with managers AND team members. This provides 360-degree feedback on their suitability for both the job and the work environment. Understand that if you’re the head manager, you need to respect the feedback of team members who may have a different opinion of the candidate than you do. After all, they will have to work with whomever you hire on a daily basis.
- Panel interviews, conducted by diverse groups of managers and other employees, are often used to screen technical candidates for engineering, manufacturing or other technical environments. Be sure to prep your panel with appropriate questions and techniques for follow-up queries. The most technically skilled individual may be deficient at collaborating with others or communicating the value of his or her ideas. Such deficits are likely to emerge in a panel interview.
- Be candid about your company’s challenges, especially those that relate to projects the successful candidate will be assigned. Ask them to provide solutions. This will give you invaluable insight into what the interviewee has to offer.
- Finally, include a trusted ‘outsider’ to the process, one with knowledge of your area with the added advantage of speaking to the needs and expectations of professionals in other departments whose work coordinates with yours.
Assessing the feedback of candidate reference
Most candidates are extremely careful in selecting references who will say good things about them. Consequently, the person tasked with checking an applicant’s references must ask tough questions to get beyond superficial impressions. Tone of voice is a major giveaway, as well as flat or sketchy responses to follow-up questions that dive deeper into a candidate’s record of performance.
Two final things–(1) Establish at least a one-month trial period for the new hire, while (2) providing them with all the onboarding support they need to be successful. I’ll give an overview of onboarding best practices in a future Insights article.