Hiring Process: What to do – or not – when interviewing candidates
We’ve already went over the general ways in which you can prepare for interviewing candidates in a selective process for a job opening. Now, we’re going to dig a little deeper and tell you what you can – and what you should not – do to increase increase your chances of picking the best candidate for the spot.
Selecting the right people for a job opportunity – or just to work at your company – is not an exact science. We couldn’t possibly give you a path to follow every time you’re interviewing candidates – companies are different, people are different so you should have different approaches.
You can, however, increase the effectiveness and get the most out of your interview process by completing all the other necessary steps on your hiring process. To finally get to the interviewing part – that is normally one of the final steps in the hiring process – you should probably have gone through completing all the steps that preceded it. Each of these previous steps will impact directly the benefit you’ll have from interviews.
Let’s start, then, by going through a list of steps you should have on your hiring process. Pay attention to each of them and to their order, and remember that they’re all equally important to the success of your hiring process.
Hiring process’ steps:
Here are, ordered by time, the steps you should go through in order to make sure you’re hiring process will end up with you hiring the best candidate for filling a position in your company.
- Need – Why is it you need to hire a new employee? Are your internal resources – their talents and skills – being properly used? What needs to be done? Can your business structure support the hiring of a new employee?
- Job analysis – As we’ve mentioned before, it’s very important to have a detailed and thorough analysis of the position, its functions and expected performance;
- Job description – Based on your job analysis, write down a description for this opportunity;
- Salary – Based on your internal values – and external equity – determine how much this position will be payed. Make sure it’s proportional to the responsibilities of other internal positions as well as similar positions out on the market;
- Find applicants – Define where and how you’ll look for qualified candidates for the job. How much time you have to search? What recruitment techniques you’ll use? Keep in mind that advertising or posting the opportunity to candidate recruitment websites are not your only options;
- Applications* – Collect and review an amount of applications and resumes you consider reasonable. Out of these, select the candidates that seem the most qualified for further analysis;
- Interview – After you selected the most qualified candidates for the opportunity – based on the job description you’ve made – interview them;
- References – Check the references your candidates offered you;
- Hire – After evaluating the interviews’ results and checking the candidates references, you’ll be more than suited to pick the best person for the job.
*If after you’ve reviewed all applications and resumes you’ve received you still don’t think you have enough quality candidates to be interviewed, you can always expand your deadlines and search for applicants differently.
Interviewing candidates – what to do – or not:
Now we’ve gone through the steps of your hiring process and you know just where the “interviewing candidates” part fits, let’s take a look on what you can do – or don’t do – to ensure you’ll have the best results out of it.
What to DO:
We’ve gone over the importance of preparing in advance time and time again. Review what you’ve specified on the job description and look for the determined requirements. Know what you’re looking for in a candidate before beginning the interviewing process.
- Have at hand a list of standard – but not mechanically scripted – questions to ask all candidates, their education, skills, abilities and past work experiences.
- Specify in advance the criteria – and their importance order – you’ll analyse your candidates on. Having defined criteria will help you evaluate all candidates fairly according to the same parameters.
- Review the candidate’s resumé prior to the interview, set reasonable time limits and appointment times.
- Look and act professional during the interviews. In a businesslike atmosphere, dress appropriately and demonstrate you’re genuinely interested in the interview.
- Collect pertinent information when interviewing candidates – look for behaviour patterns that can help you trace the candidate’s profile. Extracting the right information about past experiences is likely to give you enough to have a good idea on how this candidate will behave in the future.
- Don’t give up essential information upfront, avoid giving candidates the ability to formulate beforehand the ideal answers to your company’s needs. Don’t answer your questions for them and pay attention if any answer looks too scripted and said just to impress you.
- Notice how well the candidate listens, interprets and answers the questions you present them. Interpret their choice of words as well as non-verbal behavior.
- Specify and structure your questions regarding specific problems that may come up in the job position you’re interviewing for. Try to extract information from past experiences in particular situations.
- Use the list of standard questions you’ve developed during each and every interview – treat all applicants the same and ensure you won’t be comparing apples to oranges.
- Stimulate the candidate to ask you questions – and explore the reasons of the questions they choose to ask. The ones he/she asks first are most likely his/hers primary concerns and/or reasons for applying for this job.
- Use the criteria you’ve specified before the interview to guide your information recording and help you set candidates apart from each other.
- Organise and analyse the information you wrote down as soon as possible after the interview, to benefit from fresh memories. Don’t count on yourself to remember everything that was said – that’s what notes are for.
- Ask only job-related questions and don’t forget to focus regarding the criteria.
- Explain the selection process to the candidate. Offer realistic time frames and stick to your word! Don’t say you’ll get back to them if you don’t intend to.
What NOT to DO:
Some subjects are widely regarded as off-limits for any discussion in job interviews. Many of them are related to employment laws, specially regarding equal employment opportunities. Seek the guidance of your legal department to help you determine the best ways of approaching candidates. Here are a few topics you’re widely advised to refrain from – either when interviewing candidates or seeking applications:
- Race and ethnicity;
- Arrest record;
- Candidate’s legal status as a citizen of your country (in the US, it’s acceptable to ask for proof of eligibility to work in the country);
- Ancestry, birthplace or native language (it’s acceptable to assess whether the candidate is able to speak foreign languages, if applied to the job opportunity);
- Religious customs/Specific holidays;
- Height and weight (if unrelated to the ability of performing the job);
- Relative’s information (unless those candidates that have relatives current or past organisation’s employees);
- Housing situation (whether they own or rent their home, who lives with them, etc.);
- Financial situation (unless their credit history may be considered job related – even so, proceed with caution);
- Education/skills (unless they’re specifically required to perform the job);
- Sex or gender (act appropriately and avoid any language or behaviour that could possibly be considered inappropriate);
- Pregnancy/medical history;
- Family or marital status (asking whether they’ll need child-care arrangements is permissible to assess whether the candidate is able to work the required hours);
- Physical or mental disabilities (you can ask whether and how they’d be able to perform essencial job duties with the existing limitations);
When in doubt whether a topic is adequate or not ask yourself if it’s strictly related to the job and its responsibilities. If the answer is no, be safe don’t go there.
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