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Hiring Toolkit: Week 3 - Interviewing

Thank you so much for joining me for this first week of the Hiring Toolkit for your business. So far this month we covered how you define the job you are hiring for and how to recruit. This week we are looking into interviewing.

Interviewing can be one of the most fun or the most stressful parts of finding a new employee. This week we look into typical interview questions, best practices around selecting candidates to interview, and communicating with candidates throughout the process.

Receiving Resumes

One of the craziest parts of recruiting is dealing with all the candidate applications and resumes. It is good to create a special email for job applications, or to create a way for those applications can go into a special folder in your email. This prevents your email from getting overloaded with applications and distracting you from the other work you need to do.

Set aside time every few days to review resumes and contact qualified applicants. By concentrating your work on resume review into an hour or two you can create efficiencies. You can also see how the candidates stack up against each other. By doing this every few days you ensure that you are timely in responding to applicants. Highly qualified candidates and your ideal employee will most likely be scooped up fast. You want to be the person who gets them first!

Have a way to track all the qualified applicants. This can be as simple as a spreadsheet. Most of the recruiting I do is with spreadsheets. If you are hiring a large number of candidates, you can use an applicant tracking system like Lever. Regardless of the system you use for tracking candidates, you should include the following information:

  • Include the name, number and email address

  • Include the job title and part of the application process they are in

  • Record offers

  • Record acceptance of offers

Interview Process

Deciding on the right interview process ahead of time will help eliminate confusion for you and your candidates during the interview process. Carefully select the interview process based on the needs of your organization. Not all candidates for all positions will need to go through a multi tiered interview process, others will need to go through up to 5 interviews.

Types of Interviews

One on One - the candidate meets with one other person in the organization

Panel - multiple people ask the candidate questions

On the Job - the candidate is invited to work in the workplace for a short period of time

Presentations - the candidate is invited to present on a topic, typically to a group of people

Special Considerations for an On-the-Job Interview:

When you do an on the job interview, you must be sure to pay the candidate for their time. Typically this means paying the candidate at least minimum wage for the time they spend on the job. When you do an on the job interview provide them with just enough training so that you can see how they perform in the work environment and interact with your staff and clients. Once you have given them 5 - 10 minutes of information, let them be and tell them that they can come to you and ask questions. Be clear ahead of time what qualities you are looking for and rate the candidate.

Deciding on Interview Questions

Select questions to ask that will really help you to understand if your candidate is the right fit for the job. Some questions that I like that work for any job include:

  • Why did you apply for this position?

  • How did you get started in this industry

  • How does your previous work experience apply to the position of XXX?

  • What is your approach to training?

  • Describe a system that you have implemented.

  • What are you looking for in this position?

Typically you should be able to tell in 30 to 60 minutes whether or not a person is the right fit for the position. If it is taking you much longer to tell, consider changing your interview questions. The questions should be specific to the position you are hiring for. If a candidate is going through a multi-level interview process, typically it is best to ask different questions at each level of the interview. Questions should get increasingly difficult or specific as time goes on.

Choosing Candidates

Now that you have interviewed people how do you decide who is the best candidate for a position? First, it is following all the steps we have already covered: defining the job, calling out to your ideal employee with your job ad, and utilizing your network to find the right fit. The next best step is to rate candidates on their answers to your interview questions while listening to your intuition. The right candidate will feel right to you on all levels. Don't hire someone who doesn't feel like the right fit.

The best practice in choosing which candidates move forward in an interview process is to have a rating system for the candidates. This means that candidates who interview well receive high ratings and candidates who interview poorly receive low ratings. This system especially works well when you have a panel of people choosing which candidates move forward.

If you have some hesitation about a candidate, listen to yourself. If you think someone isn’t the right fit, they probably aren’t. If you think something might be off about them, you’re probably right. This kind of goes against everything they teach you in HR school about how to choose the right candidate. The reason I say listen to your gut is that every single time I hired someone I wasn’t sure about it ended up creating all kinds of problems in the organization. On the flip side, people I was very sure would be a good fit typically turn out to be awesome. Of course this does not mean that you should unconsciously make decisions about candidates based on their background, faith, primary first language or skin color. But ultimately you are giving someone a job and you are also looking for people who you can trust with the responsibility of the job that you give them.

Be careful about your hiring decision. Sometimes the best fit for the position isn’t the person with the most experience, or who has worked in the company the longest. This is why it is so important to be really clear on the criteria you are hiring for, and to continue to go back to that criteria and revise it over time. Consider the location where the person lives. If they live far away and the position doesn't pay a lot, then they must really love your company or be dedicated to learning the work in order to be motivated to make a big move. Consider the pay rate. If you have a highly qualified candidate and the pay rate for your position is lower than in similarly situated organizations it is likely that candidate will leave your company sooner.

Learn More

In this series we will focus on the four main pieces of the hiring process: defining the job, recruiting, interviewing and onboarding new employees.  The better we are at each of these steps the less likely it is we will bring someone into our company that just isn't the right fit.  As always our goal is to create systems that are fair for all built on best practices.

Each Monday, starting July 13, I will release the toolkit for the week, sending it to those of you who sign up to receive this information and posting the information on this website.

August 3: Onboarding

I welcome your comments on this work. If you would like me to clarify anything or would like to participate in a conversation about this work, please consider commenting or reaching out to me directly.

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