Posts Tagged 'interviewing'

Can the Candidate Do the Job? Will the Candidate Do the Job?

When interviewing candidates for an open position your job is to find out not only whether they have the required skills and knowledge but also whether they are motivated to perform at a high level.

Questions about knowledge and skills are relatively straightforward.  You might ask (depending on what you are looking for) questions like these:

  • What has been your experience with developing databases? (Technical position)
  • In your last position, how much of your time did you spend directly working with customers? (Sales/customer service)
  • What types of social media do you currently use and for what purpose? (Marketing/Internet)

Questions about motivation require more thought and in some cases a follow-up:

  • Tell me about a time when you went “above and beyond” to get a job done.  What was exceptional about that?
  • Give me an example of when you identified a small problem that needed to be fixed.  Why would it have become a major issue if not addressed?
  • How do you approach working with someone (customer/colleague) who is difficult to work with?

The first motivational question addresses the issue explicitly.  But the others address more subtle aspects of good performance:  courage to speak up, thinking outside the box, and overcoming obstacles.  The outstanding employee will incorporate these qualities into their work, to the benefit of the company.

So if you want to hire great employees, make sure you find out not only if they can but if they will do the job.

Sharon Hamersley is Principal of Keys to Performance, Your Resource for Workplace Productivity. Sharon helps businesses hire, train and retain outstanding employees and create workplaces where everyone can do their best work.  For more information, visit her web site http://k2performance.net or call her at 614-395-9440.

Beware the “Halo Effect” in Candidate Interviewing

Have you ever interviewed a candidate for a position, offered them the job, and then been very disappointed in their performance?  If so you may have fallen victim to the Halo Effect.

Consider the following scenario: Jane Green is interviewing for an Accountant position reporting to your CFO.  As Jane and the CFO converse, they discover that they graduated one year apart from the same high school, have kids in the same soccer league, and enjoy golf.  The CFO reports that he is very impressed with her credentials and intends to make an offer.

But wait a minute, which credentials are we talking about here?  There is no mention of her experience in analyzing financial statements, creating reports, or account reconciliation which is what the position requires.  There is certainly an element of compatibility when hiring, but only as a secondary criterion.  The CFO focused on their common interests and missed the opportunity to assess whether Jane is qualified and able to meet the requirements of the position.  He may be in for a rude awakening after she has been on the job for a few months.

In any hiring interview, the most critical questions are “Can the candidate do the job?” and “Will the candidate do the job?”  More about how to get answers to these questions in a future article.

Sharon Hamersley is Principal of Keys to Performance, Your Resource for Workplace Productivity. Sharon helps businesses hire, train and retain outstanding employees and create workplaces where everyone can do their best work.  For more information, visit her web site http://k2performance.net or call her at 614-395-9440

Three Critical Interview Questions to Identify the Best Candidate

Do you ask any of the following questions in an interview:

• Tell me about yourself.
• What is your greatest strength/weakness?
• Why do you want to work here?

If so, you will almost always get the answer the candidate thinks you want to hear, rather than information that will help you make a decision about whether he or she is a good fit for the position. So what can you do to ensure you get good information? In her book A Manager’s Guide to Hiring the Best Person for Every Job Deanne Rosenberg discusses three question types that will help you get a clear picture of what the candidate really is capable of:

• What if … ? (the candidate is asked to respond to a problem that exists in your organization.)
• What has been your experience with … ? (the candidate is asked to describe specific situations in past work situations.)
• What has been the most challenging situation you faced related to … ? (the candidate is asked to describe the issue and how they resolved it.)

All of these questions force the candidate to answer based on knowledge and experience, not what they think you want to hear. But, to ask these types of questions, you need to know exactly what the position requires in terms of objectives and outcomes, not just skills and tasks. More about that in a future column.

Sharon Hamersley is Principal of Keys to Performance, Your Resource for Workplace Productivity. For more information, visit her web site http://k2performance.net or call her at 614-395-9440.

Putting Your Best (Company) Foot Forward in the Interview

Many companies use a phone screen interview as a method of determining which candidates to bring in for an in-person interview.  While you are evaluating  the candidates, you need to be aware that they are also evaluating you.  Here are reports from two job candidates about phone interviews they had:

  • I was told to call at 9:28 so I did.  I was put on hold for several minutes.  When the manager came on the line he told me that I could not ask any questions, and that he would hang up after exactly 10 minutes.  He then proceeded to read the job description and told me I had whatever time was left to state why I was the best candidate for the job.”
  • “The HR representative read me the job description and asked if I had any questions about the job.  When I said I was interested in learning more about a particular requirement, she said she didn’t have time to discuss that, thanked me for my time, and hung up.”

Not only were these candidates unimpressed with the company, they are telling their friends about their experience. When you conduct a phone or an in-person  interview, be prepared and professional so that you can present your company in the best possible light.  Your reputation and ability to hire great people is on the line.
Sharon Hamersley is Principal of Keys to Performance, Your Resource for Workplace Productivity.  For more information, visit her web site http://k2performance.net or call her at 614-395-9440.

The Right Employee for the Right Job

Have you ever had the experience of hiring someone who looked perfect for the job, only to have them leave soon after they started?  Or, even worse, you had to fire them?  Employee turnover costs businesses thousands of dollars in lost time and productivity.  So, how can you ensure that your next hire “sticks”?  Here are a few tips:

  • Prepare a job description that goes beyond duties and responsibilities to describe the impact the employee has on the business.  Outstanding employees don’t just “do” they help achieve results.
  • Ask the right questions in the interview.  Not just about what they have done, but how they have solved problems and contributed in the past.
  • Make sure that when the new employee starts, they have the information and resources needed to do the job they were hired for.  Nothing is more frustrating for a new hire than to sit around feeling unproductive.

Bottom line: the more intentional you are in the hiring process, the more likely you will have a happy, productive, long-term employee who will help you achieve business success.  Of course there are many more strategies that can contribute to employee success such as on-the-job training and having a clear path to advance in the company.   But it all starts with getting the right person for the right job.

Sharon Hamersley, Principal, Keys to Performance, helps businesses hire, train and retain outstanding employees and create workplaces where everyone can do their best work.  For more information, contact her at 614-395-9440 or Sharon.ktp@wowway.com.