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For managers – 5 tips for better interviews

Interviewing potential new employees can be stressful for both the hiring manager and the candidates. Based on my own experience on both sides of the desk, here are 5 ideas on how to make these meetings less stressful and more productive:

1. Connect. When you interview someone for a job, you are hiring a person, not just a set of skills. So take some time at the beginning to really connect with the person as a human being. It may seem like a waste of time to talk about their favorite sports team, their pets and hobbies, or where they spend their free time. But remember that what you learn here may make a huge difference when it comes to managing them later. They want to be treated as a person, not a number. And you want to know what kind of person you are hiring.

2. Confirm. I’m amazed at how often the person leading an interview has little or no idea of what job description I was given prior to the meeting. In many cases they are looking for completely different skills and aptitudes than what the written description says. So take a few minutes and make sure that you are both talking about the same job description. You might be surprised.

3. Understand their background. It’s extremely difficult to fully understand what someone has accomplished by looking at their resume, and in some cases resumes hide more than they reveal. So in addition to asking them about their skills, also ask them to describe their job duties. How did they plan their day so that the important things got done? Ask whom they interacted with, and how often. Did they take breaks or are they a workaholic? Do they like working in a structured environment or do they prefer a more freewheeling atmosphere? Get to know the person behind the resume and you’ll make better hiring decisions.

4. Give feedback. For job candidates, going through a job interview is like being on trial for their life. Let them know how they did. Tell them what impressed you, and where you have concerns. Even if they didn’t win the job, they want to know how they did. When they hear nothing, they assume the worst. And if you do end up hiring them, you have already started to build a relationship that will make working with them that much easier.

5. Share. Let the candidate know a little about you as a person. He needs to know at least a little about what motivates you, both as a person and as a manager. After all, the candidate is evaluating you as a potential manager. So if you like what a candidate has to offer, both as a person and as a potential new employee, it pays to start building something of a personal relationship with them as early as possible.

Interviewing is hard for both candidates and hiring managers. Hopefully these tips with help both sides reduce the stress that comes with interviewing and allow for better hiring decisions as well – and maybe even make the process of interviewing a little more enjoyable for both sides.

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