Wendywoman Profnet Connect interview…

Here is advice from seven experienced interviewers found within the ProfNet Connect community:

The Interviewer’s Role and Responsibility

Your job as the interviewer is to set the tone, develop questions to obtain facts from the candidates, and ensure that all candidates are treated equally and fairly, says Jennetta Hyatt, recruitment manager at Third Sector New England, a management and leadership resource for nonprofits. Be familiar with the job requirements in order to appropriately assess candidates, and make sure the candidates do most of the talking — not you.

Be aware of the employment laws regarding the hiring process, says Hyatt. An inappropriate question or comment during an interview, regardless of whether or not the hiring decision was based on this information, can be cause for a disgruntled applicant to seek a lawsuit, so be sure to document each step of your hiring process and retain all documentation. In the event that a job applicant or candidate logs a complaint with a regulatory agency and you are questioned about it, you will appreciate having this information handy, she says. For example, create a matrix that includes your interview questions, and record ratings of each candidate’s response.

Asking the Right Questions

Start the interview off with something easy and comfortable, like a tour of the building, says David Baker, principal at ReCourses, a management consulting business for marketing firms, and author of “Managing (Right) for the First Time.” Don’t be driven by agenda, but make it evident that you have one. As soon as you’re seated, give them an accurate picture of the job, then start with easy questions. Gradually move to questions that require greater reflection and articulation.

“The right questions are not too scripted,” Baker continues. “If you ask the same questions as everyone else, the prospective employee will not feel valued.” And, if the questions are different from the norm, you won’t receive canned responses.

But be consistent in the questions you ask, says Ben Dattner, principal at Dattner Consulting, a personnel-selection, performance-management and coaching company. For legal reasons and for practical reasons, it’s important to ask all candidates the same questions, or at least very similar questions. This avoids the possibility that you will treat members of diverse groups differentially, and also enables you to compare candidates much more easily.

Elicit the maximum amount of useful information by asking open-ended questions, says Huma Gruaz, president and CEO of Alpaytac Marketing Communications/Public Relations. Avoid questions like, “Can you make decisions?” and instead ask “Can you describe a time in which you had to make a difficult decision?” In an interview, Gruaz always asks these three questions:

What were the most and least favorite parts of your previous jobs? (This lets you know their passion.)

What do you consider to be your biggest achievement? (This lets you know how high the person sets his/her goals and what they consider to be a big achievement.)

What is the biggest regret of your career? (This gives them the opportunity to be honest and forthcoming, and lets you know if they’re able to learn from mistakes.)

If you want candidates to elaborate more, try repeating or restating the question; ask for an example; or if all else fails, sit silently, says Baker. Then the candidate will feel obligated to fill the silence.

Or ask the candidate a question that will require them to be flexible or quick on their feet, says Gruaz. For example, ask them for ideas on a new product. If they say, “I can’t give any ideas without more information,” that’s not a good sign.

Don’t ask “What is your greatest weakness?” says Dattner. That encourages candidates to dress up their strengths, like saying “I’m a perfectionist” or “I care too much.” Instead, ask questions like “How will this job enable you to stretch your professional capabilities?” or “How will you need to learn and grow in order to be successful in this new job?”

Evaluation of the Job Candidate

A top priority of every interview is to determine if the candidate will fit in with the culture of your workplace, says Mark Faust, author of “Growth or Bust! Proven Turnaround Strategies to Grow Your Business.”

Gruaz shares this story on the importance of choosing a candidate who fits in with the workplace culture: “One candidate I recently interviewed told me that the job description reminds her of the movie ‘Devil wears Prada,’ after I told her that in our industry (PR) employees should be ready to be available after hours. The statement she made was a guarantee that she would not get the job in our company’s culture, as we need to be available for our clients if there is an urgent need after hours.”

As the interviewer, ask yourself questions like: Can I eventually put this person in front of my most discerning client, or bring them to a high-powered new business meeting? Will my team members feel comfortable traveling with this person? Will the candidate fit in the culture of our company? If all of the answers are “yes” and the candidate has given responses that point in the right direction, proceed to the next level, says Gruaz.

Make a note of their handshake, attire, and where and how they sit, says Baker. What does this tell you about the person and how they’ll typically interact?

Pay careful attention to how the candidate talks about issues of credit and blame, says Dattner. If they don’t seem to be able to share credit with others, and deny blame for any bad outcomes at past jobs, this can be a warning sign that the candidate is headed for career derailment. Research has shown that people who deny blame or project it onto others have a hard time working with others, admitting their areas for improvement or learning over time.

Look for employees who are energized by change, versus disrupted by change, says :lol: Wendy Komac, speaker and author of “I Work With Crabby Crappy People.” Focus on their confidence and capacity to change. Ask questions that will show whether or not the applicant will look to their boss and colleagues to get permission for everything they do, and determine if the applicant considers transformation part of their daily life and not just special circumstances. You cannot hire the person who always wants to play it safe. Do they prefer a predictable environment versus a chaotic environment? Are they willing to make change happen, or do they wait for change to happen?

During the interview, consider the appropriateness of the length of the applicants’ answers, says Baker. At first, the answers will probably be too long or too short, simply because they are nervous. But once they become comfortable, try to judge their conversational aptitude. Note your instincts, and take personality into account.

But don’t worry if the person isn’t totally comfortable, even by the end of the interview, Baker continues. Some very valuable people with tremendously useful skills will never interview well. That fact should count against them if they manage people or have significant client contact, but otherwise keep going without discounting them too early.

Drawing on unusual strategies to find out more information about the applicant can be useful, says Dean Bare, managing director at Stanton Chase International, an executive-search firm. A dazzling resume won’t tell you anything about the applicant’s personality, but taking someone out for dinner or golf can give you more insight. How the candidate treats and interacts with others will become apparent in these environments. The right candidate will maintain their character during formal and non-formal, and stressful and non-stressful, situations.

Don’t look for someone just like you, says Baker. Your firm will benefit more from someone not like you (no offense!). No one needs a business full of clones. So if you are the “no-nonsense analytical” type hiring a sales person, don’t be offended by their exuberance.

At the end of the interview, tell the candidate what you’ll do now, how you’ll contact them, and roughly when this will happen, says Baker. Ask them to call if something changes. And give them a chance to ask questions too.
Afterwards, write down your impressions immediately before talking with others about them, says Baker. Next, ask the front-desk person what they thought of this individual (or better yet, ask them to be observant ahead of time). How did the candidate wait? How did they treat others in the office? These can be telltale signs.

Good luck with your interviews!