So, we’ve designed our new seat & have come up with an AWESOME marketing plan to attract the right candidate. The candidates should now be banging on our door to work for our fantastic organization – after all, we’ve shared our culture, our values and we’ve shared a clear expectation for this role & know what we are looking for. We’re about to screen the candidates and figure out who to interview.
It’s just a few more steps before you can make the offer to that perfect candidate …
Step 1: We’re going to start by putting together our interview questions. Really before we even start screening candidates, I (HR person) want to know what you (hiring manager) want to know. What information do you want to try to get from the candidates as you interview them? What information about your expectations do you want to share? Because remember, they are interviewing us as well. Your questions need to be meaningful and give us the information we need to make our decision. You have your favorite “what kind of fruit would you be” type question? Fine, but what do you hope to get out of it? If you are just trying to figure out if you have an apple-lover & whether or not they will bring fresh apple pies into the company picnic, well, maybe just ask them outright.
In all seriousness, you need to know if the person can do the job. So ask them questions about the job. Ask technical questions for the technical position. Take them to a job site and ask them to show you, assuming it is safe to do so. Accounting position? Give them a spreadsheet and ask them to do some calculations.
Behavior based questions are also good, but be sure you know what you are looking for. Are you looking for how they handled a situation? What did they learn from a situation? Simply trying to check out their thought process? No right or wrong answer, just know what you are looking for.
Be sure your behavior based questions fit in with your values — you need to be sure this person fits your values as well as the actual position. Remember, your goal is not to give the most qualified person a job, your goal is to fill a role within your organization.
Step 2: who gets to interview these candidates? Whose opinion matters? The higher up the position, the more likely you will want a few more opinions. When you get this team together, meet prior to the interviews to discuss what the hiring manager is looking for. They need to know how to gauge responses, follow up questions based on what the hiring manager is seeking in filling this position. I’ve been on many selection committees where the members are interviewing candidates with a different goal in mind. This does nothing but cause confusion and frustration for all involved.
Step 3: Screen your candidates. Review first for minimum qualifications, then for those “nice to haves.” Have a question about a candidate – ask them! Especially if it’s just a clarification around their experience or salary expectations – is this a $15/hour job & they are currently making $30/hour? Send them a quick email to let them know that this might not be the job they are looking for. Or maybe they are! Maybe you are about to get the deal of a lifetime! At least be sure they understand what ball park you are playing in before you disqualify them for something that could be cleared up in a quick email or phone conversation.
Now, finally, you can interview your candidates. Depending on the position, you might do some phone screens to help narrow down your options. Just be sure you are consistent with your phone screens.
After each interview, debrief and discuss the candidate on his or her own merits. You aren’t looking for the lesser of 2 evils, no butts in seats please! If none of these candidates are right, you don’t take what’s left, you start again. It is better to work short handed than with the wrong people. I’ll say that again because I know some of you didn’t hear me.
It is better to work short handed than with the wrong people.
You need to be sure this person fits the role and your organization. Now, having said that, please don’t use the tired old “not a culture fit” as your only reason for not selecting someone. You can do better than that – you’ve done your homework. Which value do you feel they won’t be able to meet and why. Your gut is probably right, but let’s try to quantify it a little bit, shall we. And trust me, if you’ve followed the other 2 posts, you will find it much easier to have a concrete reason to not select someone. You should also be able to give them some good feedback. That’s a different topic so I won’t cover it here, but I will ask that you at a minimum follow up with each candidate via email to let them know they are either no longer in consideration or that someone else was selected. Don’t keep them hanging on for months. As soon as you know, you really need to let them know. It will only help your reputation as an employer and you as a human.