Running a small business can be stressful, and it’s extremely important you have a strategy when hiring employees. You are trying to meet your business needs, but you also need to invest in giving a well thought out interview to find someone who’s a good match and make your payroll dollars count!
When setting up interviews, make sure you schedule a time when you are most alert – if you’re not a morning person, schedule your interviews in the early afternoon or after lunch when your stomach won’t be reminding you to eat.
Interview in a private area such as in your office or a meeting room with the door closed so you and your interviewee are able to speak freely. It’s also important your interview take place when and where you will not be distracted – make sure you don’t expect to receive any important phone calls, go through a shift-change, or have any deliveries you’ll need to handle.
Give yourself some time to prepare for the interview. It’s a really good idea to make your prospective employee wait a couple of minutes before approaching her or introducing yourself. You will be able to notice how she interacts with your employees or responds to customers she encounters while in your shop.
Here are 5 Effective Steps When Interviewing Job Applicants:
1. Consider the Whole Person
It’s important your applicant is makes a good first impression and presents herself professionally, no matter what the position is she is hiring for.
Take into account the time your applicant arrives – if she’s early, that may be a sign she’s prepared for the unexpected. However, if she late, give her a chance to explain before deducting merit points.
What is the attitude of your applicant? Take into account her tone of voice, body language, and the actual words she uses.
Look at what she’s wearing – is she put-together, or does she look disheveled and a little out of it? What about grooming- does she have a neat appearance? Hair styled? Nails clean?
2. Get your applicant talking
Ask open-ended questions and actively listen to everything your applicant has to say. It’s very easy to focus on the next question, but you need to really listen and give your full attention or you might miss something important that can affect your hiring decision.
Stay focused and be present during the interview. Take notes while you listen and refer to them later on.
The idea is to turn the interview into a casual conversation to make your interviewee feel relaxed and and not so “on-guard” about answering your questions. Ask about her experiences, what she likes and dislikes, what is something she does in her free time… you get the idea.
Always ask open-ended questions in an interview! This means you ask questions that will be answered in a sentence rather than just getting a “yes” or “no” answer.
Try not to lead the applicant in her answers – keep your opinions to yourself and be neutral so your applicant answers you without trying to feed you what you want to hear. She shouldn’t feel like there are any right or wrong way to answer your questions. You want her to answer you openly so you can discover how she thinks on her feet and can help you evaluate her.
Simple questions to get the interview going include:
- What is your greatest accomplishment in your life?
- Where do you see yourself in three years?
- What are your top two reasons why you want to work here?
- What drew you to this particular job position?
- What do you expect out of this job?
- How can you improve my business with your employment here?
- How do you plan to excel at your position?
- Why did you decide to leave your last job?
The last question is almost a trick question asked by interviewers because you want to know the reason why your interviewee left their previous job, but you also want to hear if they bash their previous employer or if they left on a positive note.
3. Observe your job candidate while answering your questions
Body language speaks more loudly than actual spoken words. You have to look at the candidate to truly understand what the answers mean – observe a bouncing leg to know if your candidate is nervous, or if she is answering your question positively while shaking her head “no” to tell you she might be lying.
Watch your candidate’s reaction to the questions –is she quick to answer like the answer is rehearsed? Or does she need a moment to think about your question, albeit to carefully answer but more than likely being more sincere instead of giving you a scripted response.
4. Make room for silence during the interview
Give your candidate a chance to ask you about questions she has that may have come to mind during the interview. Don’t feel like you need to fill the gaps of silence. Enjoy it and use it as a pause to let your interviewee feel the need to tell you something more.
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5. Give your job applicant the final word
Offer the candidate a final chance to share anything that is important to them and may help you make your hiring decision, or something that that may help improve the way you recruit potential employees.
Even if you decide not to hire this person, asking for their feedback is always beneficial for your next interview!
The time to tell your job candidate about your business and your expectations is after you have asked them all your questions. Be as open and honest with the candidate as you expect them to be with you. Also, quickly skim over your notes to ask anything else you may have missed.
When you conclude your interview, thank your candidate and walk them out – this is not out of politeness, but this is your chance to watch how your candidate interacts with other people after your interview.
Your candidate may feel the formal interview is over and is more relaxed to be herself. Has her attitude changed at all versus when she first walked in?