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Ask Away: 4 Steps to Successful Interviewing

People are at the heart of every organization, but recruiting the right person for your team can be tricky. Many times, you’re making hiring decisions in a matter of hours (or less) — and the wrong choice can be devastating. 

A poor hire will cost you in ways beyond the financial. There’s the money spent during the recruiting process and in wages paid to the ex-worker. But there’s also the time lost by company leaders and mentors — and the blow to morale for employees who remain.

To make better hiring decisions, you need to be prepared and purposeful during the interview process. The more successful you are at interviewing, the better you’ll be at building a great team.  

Successful interviewing isn’t just about what you ask — it’s also about how you approach it. Keep these four tenets in mind when approaching the interview process, and you’ll succeed in hiring more of the right people.

Be prepared

Let’s make one thing clear: Do not look at someone’s resume for the first time while you’re also speaking to them for the first time. Changing jobs is one of life’s biggest milestones, which some people only go through a handful of times. You’re about to be part of that milestone for someone — so treat them with respect, and at least do a little legwork before they walk through the door.  

Prepare by building a structure for how you want to conduct the interview. You don’t have to have a complete list of questions, but you should have a few in mind. Make sure you ask them the same way to everyone you’re interviewing for the role. This helps reduce bias and gives you points of comparison among candidates. 

You should also make a list of what you want to know about each candidate by the end of the conversation. Many of these will apply to everyone, such as information about their skills, training and relevant work experience. Going a step further, you can have candidates perform exercises to test their skills as part of the interview process; just ensure directions are straightforward and clear.

Put the candidate at ease

Let’s face it: When people are coming in for an interview, they’re nervous. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that; it’s human nature.  

Interviews can be intimidating. Even if the person is in another role right now, by the time they’re talking to you, they’re already envisioning what the next chapter of their life might look like — and how you might be a part of it. You can assume this person isn’t going to be in such a high-pressure situation every time they go to work. So unless you’re hiring for a bombs specialist or crisis negotiator, try and put them at ease right off the bat.  

While the role may involve some important events and intense situations, don’t use the interview process as a litmus test of the candidate’s ability to perform under pressure. This undercuts the greater goal of interviewing: assessing whether they can do the job day after day.  

Start by exchanging pleasantries; don’t forget that you’re trying to win them over as much as they’re trying…

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