Getting to know your candidates

The last few posts I’ve written have been about preparing for an interview, putting a candidate at ease and doing the necessary follow through after the interview. You can read those posts here: 7 Tips for Better Interviews  Interview Expertise

Some of my readers have asked about what to do during the interview itself. I wanted to dedicate this post to helping you navigate through the interview.

Many interviews I’ve been through as a candidate have had a similar format: Ask me to summarize my resume; Ask me to give examples about my work history; Ask me crazy off the wall questions to try to trip me up. Sound familiar to you? If not, let me outline the best approach and WHY you should take this approach.

If the top frustrations are about behaviors, then shouldn’t you ask those questions in the interview?

The resume, LinkedIn profile, Facebook timeline, and Twitter feed will give you insights into your candidate. You can spend an entire interview with someone asking about what you’ve read in print or online about them. But I will argue with you that you get only a partial picture of someone if you spend your time on just those things. The top frustration my clients have with employees is about behaviors – good behaviors and they want more people like that OR bad behavior and they want to get rid of it! So if the top frustrations are about behaviors, then shouldn’t you ask those questions in the interview? You are wasting your time if you do not have an interview strategy. Get one here!

The answer is YES to all of the above.

  1. Resume – Ask questions about the resume. You want to make sure that the candidate has been truthful in what is on the resume and that you understand the chronology of experience and skills.
  2. Skill set – Confirm the skills listed on the resume or on online profiles. If the candidate includes programming and coding skills ask questions using a common vocabulary that anyone with a degree of knowledge will understand. Then press the next questions with successively more detailed level of vocabulary or complexity of issues. That will test the candidate’s knowledge.
  3. Experience – If the candidate includes on the LinkedIn profile that they led a significant project but do not have a PMP certification, ask questions about that. Confirm the candidate indeed led the project and didn’t just participate in it. Confirm that the candidate does or does not want a PMP certification and why.
  4. Behaviors – If you need someone with great customer service skills, how can you get to know that in the interview? The key is through asking what are often referred to as behavioral interview questions. The questions target past actions in the candidate’s work history as an indicator of how a candidate will act while employed by you. You build these questions to solicit open ended answers, not just a yes or no.
  5. Use an interview team – You can’t get to the bottom of all this alone. But you can divide and conquer! If you read above there are four suggestions on how to get to know a candidate better during the interview. If you have four people on the interview team, you can assign each of these (resume, skill set, experience, and behaviors) to an interview team member. And vuala! You have an interview plan. [tweetthis]You are wasting your time if you do not have an interview strategy. Get one here![/tweetthis]

Interviewing is your chance to learn as much about candidates as absolutely possible. Candidates are multi-dimensional. Make sure your interview digs into more than just one dimension of someone’s background!

If you would like behavioral interview questions, I can send you some examples. Click through here to get over 100 behavioral interview questions you can use to target the right behaviors for your company: 103 Behavioral Interview Questions

Want other pointers? Check out my other blog posts on this topic:

Interviews are like dating … sort of …

Interviewing expertise

Struggling with talent acquisition? Start targeting!

Why Marketing is HR’s New BFF