The interview is one of your most powerful tools in the search for a candidate who fits your needs. After scrutinizing resumes and cover letters, you have a chance to meet the candidate in person or on the phone and elicit from their responses, both verbal and non-verbal, whether they’re a match.
Narrowing the list of applicants to the few you want to interview involved checking each candidate’s social media profiles and posts, online professional profile, and Google results. Anything that made you disqualify a candidate means their resume is at the bottom of your recycling. But the people you’re interviewing probably had an interesting post or profile. Ask about it. The reason behind a candidate’s online brand should give a good summary of how they act with colleagues and clients.
Analyze your need
Determining the personal attributes required for an ideal candidate gives you a significant head-start to finding the right fit. Defining the knowledge, skills, and abilities required for the job helped you write the posting and select the best resumes. Now your interview is the best opportunity to evaluate how the candidates will fit the company, role, and culture.
Manage your risk
Revisit your employment law guidelines and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s web site to know what you can ask and what you cannot. There’s a reason most illegal questions are off-limits: the answers tell you almost nothing about how a candidate will perform and only give you information that could be used against you in future employment decisions. Make sure you avoid useless questions in general, for they waste everyone’s time. But definitely eliminate all illegal questions from your process. Your legal department can help, as can the Internet, but here’s a start.
Also avoid making claims of permanence or long-term employment, because these can be construed as contractual obligations later.
Ask as a beginning
Open-ended questions give your candidate a chance to shine or fall, which is, coincidentally, exactly what hiring someone does. Ask them “why” and “how” questions to give them the chance to show you how their thinking and approach match well with (or clash with) your corporate culture and philosophies.
Since you’ve defined the skills, qualities, and abilities you want in a candidate, ask questions that allow an interviewee to demonstrate those abilities. Give a hypothetical situation in which the ideal candidate would find herself or himself, and then sit back and listen to how your candidate would conduct themselves. There may be several right answers, and as long as their choices make sense and would serve the company well, you might be looking at a good fit. If an answer would hobble the team or company in any way, your interview list just got shorter.
Then, ask for examples in which a candidate has show the qualities you’re looking for. You will hear not only stories that demonstrate whether a candidate is a fit or not, you’ll also learn how self-aware each candidate is and how well they’ve prepared to explain why they’re a good fit for your job, project, or team.
Ask the same questions of all candidates so you can compare them somewhat equitably. Evaluating humans is always an inherently apples-to-oranges situation, but you can make your own job easier by giving them all the same chances to impress you.
Not all companies interview any more. But if you’re going to talk with candidate in person or over the phone, make sure you do your best to get useful, actionable information out of the conversation.
And good luck!