Author: Kristen Backstrom
A new hire recently told me she was impressed with my interviewing technique. She said the questions put people on the spot and required the interviewee to demonstrate what they know and what they can do. She felt some questions made her doubt her skills, but she knew that showing confidence in herself would be a determining factor.
Being put on the spot is exactly what you want out of an interview. You don’t want people to think the job is a piece of cake. As a hiring manager, be critical! Don’t accept people who don’t possess the skill set your organization needs. You shouldn’t have to wait out a 90 day probationary period to find this out. Get it right in the interview!
In Part 1 of Caution: Team Interviews Can Backfire! I stated I would write more on team interviewing methods. This portion provides a standard process Human Resources can use for team interviews. There are 3 components where practice sessions can do wonders for all involved. The components are: interview questions, listening skills, and evaluating question responses.
Interview Questions: Once you get passed the introductions, come up with a list of 5 technical questions the interview team can use that highlights a specific need to the job. For example if knowing accounting is an issue, then questions about accounting education and experiences should be asked. Have each team member review, and ask one of the questions. This will help the candidate talk about their skills. You will learn what the candidate is thinking, what type of initiative he/she possesses, or how they might show up as a leader. To learn more about the candidate’s perspective, incorporate other questions like: “How would co-workers describe your quality of work?”, “What have you done to solve a recent problem at work?”, “Why do you think you want to work here?”, or “What motivates you most on the job?”.
Giving candidates some kind of activity to do is another great way to assess their level of competency in an interview. For instance, if the candidate is a computer technician give them a computer with a simple hardware problem and see if they can fix it. You might be amazed at how many people claim to know computer hardware and really don’t. If the candidate is a phone receptionist have them read a quick phone script. The person may not be a good fit if they are monotone, or embarrassed to do this activity. If you are hiring a marketing professional create a brochure sample, and ask for input on changes. What a better way to see the creative process at work.
The more you get people to use their skills, the better off your company will be.
Listening Skills: The interview process isn’t one sided. Just because you got a question response, it doesn’t mean the answer stops there. Put yourself into the experience of your candidate. Don’t let your mind wander off to other things. Focus on the interview! Engage in the conversation, and show some interest. Ask clarifying questions, and make eye contact to show there’s connectedness. Being a better listener requires involvement. Paraphrasing is a good way to show the candidate you heard what was said. Writing things down is also helpful in remembering what made this individual unique.
Interviewers, you’re not off the hook! It’s important to know that the interviewee is evaluating you too. Don’t let yourself be the one who flunked the interview! All the better reason to be sharp, and on your toes. Represent yourself and your team well.
Evaluating question response: I love using a rating scale for team interviews. It’s easy to put together, and allows for comparative quantitative analysis. This is how it works. On a sheet of paper, pick 10 critical areas for assessment such as: Appearance, Leadership, Motivation, Assertiveness, Communication, Problem Solving, and Teamwork. Have each interviewing team member individually rate the candidate in the chosen areas using a scale of 1 to 5. 1 is the best. 5 is the worst. Average each team member’s score. Strong new hires will have an average score of 1, 2 or 3 in which the candidate can be brought back for a second interview if needed. Weak scores of 4 or 5 should no longer be considered for the job.
The goal is to keep the interviewing process standardized and simple. At the end of the interview allow the team members to debrief by sharing their opinions about the candidate. The team consistency will also create a desire for them to be involved in this process again. Remember, the candidate is there to show they can do this job. In order to get the best recruits, allow the candidate to demonstrate why they are best. Simple changes to the interview process can make this a learning experience for everyone.