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9 Ways Executives Can Conduct More Effectual Job Interviews

In today’s employment market, candidates have more options, and hiring the “best” person for the job has become more difficult as more companies compete for the same talented performers. Your interview process can either convince a candidate to come on board or push them to seek other opportunities.

Executive Interview Advice - Business woman interviewing man

Here are nine tips to make your interview process one that will find you the “best” employees.

1.  Conduct a “job analysis” to ascertain what you need.

Chances are pretty good that you are not just looking to fill a job slot. Good employees don’t simply fill an open job position; they solve some type of critical need. What is that critical need? By generating a precise list of the most central aspects of the job what is necessary for it to be performed successfully, you will be able to answer questions such how to gauge success in this particular job. Besides adapting the interview to the specific position, you will also be modifying your selection process toward seeking the best person to solve the vital need in that individual area.

2.  Realize how you will “know” when you have found the “best” person to fill that need.

Too often executives have the mindset of “I’ll know them when I meet them”. If you are not sure how to identify “best”, you may not recognize them when you meet them.

Say that you need an outstanding IT Manager. What does ‘outstanding’ actually mean? While qualifications, credentials and experience are all important factors, try not to lose sight of specific accomplishments.  Additionally, attitude often plays an essential role, especially for a manager. What type of personality and interpersonal skills will mesh well with the department and the culture of your organization?

Before the interview, you may want to consult with some key team members from that department and other managers that will be working with the “IT Manager” to get some insight into what “the best candidate” actually means.

3.  Review the resume and prepare questions in advance.

Spend time well in advance of the interview to review the candidates resume. You can learn a great deal about a candidate’s work ethic by reviewing the projects they worked on, what they accomplished and their history of promotions.

What does their job history say about their career path? Are they continuing on in the same or similar industries in positions of increasing authority and job complexity? Or have they moved around from industry to industry or made several lateral moves?

Attempt to peer beyond the facts and data listed on a candidate’s resume to obtain an impression of that person’s individual goals, interests, even successes and failures.  This will allow you to create a better platform for your interview conversation.

4.  A conversation is better than an interrogation.

Simply listing question after question without leaving space between for the candidate to offer details and examples will hinder you from retrieving enough information to make a successful hiring decision.

Explain to each interviewee the most important factors of the job and exactly what you are looking for.

Since you will have reviewed the candidates resume ahead of time and gotten a feel for them, you can now ask thoughtful questions that allow the candidate to provide specific instances of projects they have worked on and the results, or to provide their opinion on why the left one position to take another position.

Ask follow up questions based on their answers to your initial questions. How did that situation work out? What did you learn from that failure? Etc.

Candidates are more likely to speak freely when they realize you are not just going down a list of uniform questions but that you are —actually listening.

5.  Make sure the interview is the right length of time.

It’s essential that all candidates have the same adequate opportunity to speak with you, in a manner that is not rushed.  Therefore, try limiting to four or five initial questions during an interview of 30 minutes, and a maximum of six to eight questions for an hour long interview.

6.  Give candidates an opportunity to evaluate you.

Candidates that are worth their salt will be evaluating you and your company at the same time you are evaluating them. Give them time to ask questions of you about the company and the position and answer openly.  Since most candidates should be capable of recognizing whether there is an opportunity for a fit between them and the company, it isn’t necessary to give a “sales pitch”.

7.  Close the loop.

At the end of the interview, you need to describe the rest of the process. What will you do and by when? Even if you were not impressed with the candidate, you need to let them know what follow up to expect. It’s just common courtesy.

8.  Contact and check references.

Even though the candidate has left the building, the interview is not over.  Now it’s time to see if what the candidate has told you about their experience and skills is accurate. Contact the references provided by the candidate, and if possible, even the ones they didn’t.  Check social media to see who is in their network that you may know who can speak to their experience, skills, attitude etc.

9.  Confirm your decision.

Even if you believe that you have found the best candidate for the position, you still owe it yourself and your company to be sure. Bring them in for another interview and perhaps include some key team members from the department they will be working on or potential colleagues. It may even be beneficial to hold this second interview out of the office over lunch or dinner.

Executive Interview Advice - magnifying glass_interview

When you follow these nine steps, you are more apt to find the “best” candidate for that critical position and for your company.


By Fred Coon, CEO


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