10 Interview Management Tips

With the current economic conditions, it is more important than ever for hiring managers to pick the best candidate for a job posting. The process can be long, complex and expensive. In fact, a lot of companies find that contracting out much of the involved work is best for them. If you are involved in the hiring of an individual, you should stick to a very organized process. You certainly don't want to have to repeat the process because you hired an unsuitable candidate. Worse, you don't want to be criticized for your role in the process. Follow your company's hiring guidelines when you are ready to interview candidates. If you don't have guidelines, or even if you do, check out the following tips to use when you are going to interview someone.

Preparation before the interview:

#1 - Select the right interview panel members

You may have a large number of people who want to serve on an interview panel, but you likely won't. Who should really be on a panel interviewing future members of the organization?

You should have someone who represents the company as a Human Resources officer. If you don't have such a position, find the manager with the best combination of organization and "people skills" to take this role.

You also need the person who will supervise the new person.

Have a co-worker of the new person as well. That should be it.

Make sure that the president, or other executives, have nothing to do with the interview panel. If they insist on being involved, invite them in for a brief, (2-3 minute), presentation to the candidate then invite them to leave.

#2 - Review the job posting and job description with panel members

Everyone on the panel should understand the job that the candidates have applied for. The supervisor will know the most, of course, but the others should have at least moderate knowledge of what the job entails, who the person reports to and how the department fits into the organization. Now would be a good time to dust off the job description and freshen it up to match reality. If there isn't an actual job description, now would be a great time to make one. These basically form the operational manual for new hires to the company. If the position doesn't have one then the new hire can be a little aimless at first. This costs the firm money as the new hire has to be relatively unproductive and has to ask many questions of his manager and co-workers.

#3 - Establish some standard questions to ask applicants

You need some probing questions that all candidates will be asked. These should explore the knowledge that is expected in an ideal candidate. Make sure that it isn't just a memorization exercise. Rather than ask them what something means, ask them how they would face a particular situation. Ask them what they would do if a certain thing goes wrong. What about if there is a decision to be made but there are no executives around?

Merely having them define industry terms is hardly a valid test of knowledge. The panel must agree on the question and the answer. Take a lot of notes that document each given answer. That lets the panel deliberate and award scoring points to each candidate. Finding the best candidate will be easier as a result.

#4 - Review the pool of applicant resumes and how to rank them

In addition to the scores on the interview questions, you have to rank the resumes. This may have already been done prior to selecting the pool of interview candidates. Order the list of resumes and see if the ranking matches the results from the oral interviews.

#5 - Establish the list of applicants to be interviewed

Depending on the organization, the selection of interview candidates may be the responsibility of the particular department or the interview panel may have to agree on the selections. Regardless, this is an important part of the hiring process. Make sure that the reasons for including a candidate in the interview process are documented. This will help the panel members answer hiring questions should any arise in the future. Often the human resources department has protocols that must be followed, especially on larger organizations or in government. Follow any rules, laws or protocols that may apply to your organization's hiring selection process.

Tips for the actual interview(s):

#1 - Get to the point, yours and theirs

You may have to interview a number of people. That will take time. Establish a set duration for each interview and stick to it. Rather than hold a marathon 4 hour interview, try to keep the time down. A couple of shorter interviews is usually better than one long one. A lot of companies hold an initial interview and then follow up with a brief 10-15 minute phone interview. Candidates will usually be happy to agree to such an arrangement as it gives them a chance to tell you something that they may have though about after the initial interview. All candidates get the same interview time in front of the panel, naturally.

#2 - Get the facts

Document, document, document. All panel members must record interview proceedings in detail. Treat the matter seriously. Many companies have ended up in court because of their hiring practices. Make yours air tight. It helps you, the company and even the applicants. Each panel member keeps their own notes which will eventually be stored in a file. While each panel member will score the interview in their way, they should be prepared to explain scores they award to candidates.

#3 - Let them prove the facts

When the candidates answer the interview questions, make sure that they provide facts to you. Try not to give them leading information that helps them formulate an answer. You need to know what your candidates know. If they can't answer part of the question, thank them for their effort and move on. If there is a difficult question, the panel could agree on certain hints that can be given to all candidates at that point. Fairness to all candidates is the key.

One method that works in a lot of instances is to give the candidate some leeway. If they want to know the answer to something in order to form their response, invite them to provide their own answer and justify why they think so. For example, perhaps they want to know if they would be allowed to negotiate contract terms during an assignment. Let the candidate tell you whether they think they should negotiate or hand the negotiations off to another person and why.

#4 - Check the candidates' references

Often, references are not checked during the hiring phase. In addition to a hard review of the provided reference sheet, a follow up call to each reference is a must. Again, keep notes about what is learned by these calls. Use the process to uncover what you can about the candidate and their role at their prior position. You may find discrepancies when you try to verify the facts given on the resume. Make sure that these are validated by the candidate before any position is offered to them.

#5 - Review the findings

At the interview phase, you should be looking for someone who will fit in with your company. All of the preliminary steps should verify whether the person is qualified, has enough experience and is intelligent enough to follow the steps outlines in the job posting. Now you want to get a team player. Candidate attitude and poise should be evaluated along with their responses to questions. Will the person fit into the organization?

The problem with these attributes, however, is that they are hard to quantify. You can't just score candidates on their passion for the position. Instead, you have to rate their ability to participate to the organization based on how they have done so in the past. All panel members have to agree on ways that they can reduce the emotion in the scoring process and use objective criteria instead.

That's it! If everything went according to plan, you should have completed a successful search for a qualified, and suitable addition to your organization. It's now up to the individual to show that he or she is worthy of the awarded position. Mentoring and performance monitoring will help the new person rise to the level of service expected of them. Watch for difficulties but be prepared to help the new person and to celebrate their success in their new position. After all, if they do well, you will know that you performed a good service to your organization while working on the interview panel.