The Key to Recruiting the Right Candidates

Many business owners and hiring managers spend a lot of time interviewing, hiring and training new employees. It appears to be easy to pick the right person for the job when candidates give you all the right answers to your questions and score well on tests given in the process. Often times though, once they are hired they prove not to be the best choice which ends up wasting a lot of your time and money. Effective questioning throughout the interview process will reveal the candidates ability to interact and communicate in an unscripted way thus revealing behaviors and information that will help you make better hiring decisions.

Preparation prior to the interview; Always look at the resume prior to the interview and compare it to the actual application, if one is provided, to make sure the information is consistent. Resumes are just a blueprint of experience, but they can be used to determine a couple of important things before meeting the candidate. Determine if there is tenure in each position and a stable work history with increasing responsibility. Usually if their job titles demonstrate less responsibility as each position becomes more current, that is an indication that they are taking positions beneath their capabilities for some reason and that should be addressed. Determine if the skills listed are either transferable to the position you are filling or exactly the experience needed for the job. Very often, employers only look for skills relating to their industry without giving consideration to the opportunities of hiring someone with transferable skills that can bring a fresh perspective to the position.

Make sure the resume is typo free, for the most part. If a resume is not proofread prior to it being sent out, most likely the person does not pay attention to detail and that is an important attribute with any new hire. If the resume has timelines that don't follow suit or job descriptions and accomplishments that seem out of place or unrealistic, then a set of questions about those issues should be noted and discussed once the interview starts. Sometimes just the explanation given by the candidate is an eye opener and sets the stage. Their reasons for the inconsistencies will give you new information with insight to their professional and sometimes personal background without directly soliciting that information.

First impressions; It's always a good start when a person comes in looking professional and well groomed. If you are in a white-collar industry, then a suit is expected to be worn vs. a blue-collar industry where the dress code is more casual. If they are poorly represented in their attire to you, then future clients and co-workers will have the same reaction that you have to their appearance. A candidate that shakes your hand upon greeting you and makes eye contact immediately is someone that demonstrates confidence. When someone isn't able to present themselves with confidence, clients will not have confidence in them either. Being punctual is important and should be noted. It demonstrates that the candidate has responsible habits, which will eventually relate to their future clients' first impressions as well. Professionalism, being punctual, displaying confidence are all attributes employers look for in new hires and they play an important role in the representation of your company.

Gaining insight with effective questions; One of the biggest mistakes employers can make when interviewing new candidates is to start talking about the position being offered too early in the process. Effective questioning will allow the candidate to be revealed without giving them the ability to mold themselves to fit the position. It's important to engage the candidate with eye contact and allow them to interact with you within their comfort level first, so you can get more candid responses. How they speak, their body language and how they position themselves is all information that gives you insight into how they handle themselves. Explaining their past positions will show you how they deliver information as well as their presentation skills. Getting explanations of accomplishments throughout their career will make the difference between reciting their resume and getting examples of their results. Finding out how they resolve problems with clients and staff will show you if they take initiative in creating solutions and have the ability to turn a situation around. These are the tell-tale questions that give you insight into their problem-solving, customer service or managerial style and communication skills.

Resumes can only go so far in giving you a clear picture of the candidate's capabilities. Getting them to reveal their true selves is what you want, when they are physically in front of you. If they have had issues with past supervisors and staff, it will come out in their responses and should be noted. Having knowledge of their current and past compensation will inform you if they are salary or commission driven and what their comfort level would be when relating to your company's current package. Growth is important in business and everyone can improve themselves in some area, so asking about that will reveal how they see themselves internally and will reflect in their actions, externally. I have gotten very candid answers at times to questions about their job preference over the current position being discussed which has guided my hiring decisions. It has kept me from placing the wrong person in a position that can potentially waste valuable training time and money. If they really don't have a passion for the position they are applying for, and want to pursue something else but need a job right now, or are doing two things at once, you will find that out without directly asking about it.

On the spot information, responses and reactions are what show you the type of employee you might have if you hired them. Standard HR questions like, "three adjectives that describes your personality" or "what are your strengths and weaknesses" and others that have weathered the test of time are not going to give you the truest picture of a person. They often come with rehearsed answers given from text books, so having a newer approach can provide you with better information to make the right hiring decisions. It is critical to always document the responses given to your questions so you can review it in the future when finalizing who is the best candidate for the position. Below is a guideline of questions that should be combined with others that might present themselves as you go through the candidate's resume.

Explain your positions and experience on your resume within a 10 year timeframe.

Give me examples of some of your biggest accomplishments throughout your career?

What was your favorite position/least favorite and why?

Who was your best supervisor and why were they the best?

Explain a time when you dealt with an unhappy client and how you resolved the issue?

Manager only: tell me about a time when you had a salesperson/employee that wasn't producing and what course of action you took to turn around their productivity/work ethics?

Manager only: what is your management style and how do you provide training for your staff?

Manager only: how do you motivate your staff?

What have you done in your previous positions to improve your job knowledge and or productivity?

What are your current and previous compensation/quotas given and bonus opportunities achieved?

What do you think you can improve on professionally?

Explain a time when you took the initiative to learn something new in one of your positions?

What would be your dream job and profession if you were able to pursue it and why aren't you at this time?

Is there anything you would like me to know about yourself that hasn't been discussed thus far?

When would you be available to start a new position?

Describing the position to be filled; This is a very important part of the process since it will determine how the candidate views the position and your company beyond the printed ad they responded to. The explanation has to be enticing, motivating and really make the candidate excited about joining your team. Verbally explaining the company culture, work environment, top performers and growth opportunities available with enthusiasm should be part of the conversation over and beyond the job description. Company benefits are very important these days in attracting the right candidates. You should highlight the areas that are impressive when reviewing the health and the compensation plan being offered for the position. Everyone wants to work with someone that is positive and can motivate them and this is your time to display those qualities to them.

Qualifying their interest; So you're at the point now that you need to know how they see themselves in this position, what skills they feel they have that apply to this position and what their interest level is in getting the position they are applying for. These questions will help you get a better understanding of if you should pursue them or not if they end up fitting your requirements. Often times through asking these types of questions they will reveal other information at this time that will help you in making the right decision. Seeing if they are enthusiastic about the position and if they can sell you on their skill set will enable you to decide if you want to take them into the next step in the hiring process. If they don't display enthusiasm for the position and possible job offer then chances are they will act the same way in a day to day situation with clients and staff once they come aboard so take this into consideration.

Finalizing the interview; I always like to hear the candidate ask, "What is the next step?" Because they are trying to close the interviewer and really that is the type of personality an owner or hiring manager wants to bring aboard. Someone that takes initiative is always a good thing whether they are in sales or not. Explaining the hiring process of your company will help them get a better understanding of the time frame you have in filling the position. Asking candidates about what other positions they have applied for and if they are still pursuing any of them, will show you what other opportunities are being presented to them. Knowing what other types of positions they are interviewing for will let you know if they are looking to stay in their field, make a career change or just trying to get a job. Still you will gain insight to their true intentions in order for you to make better hiring decisions through effective questioning even when it relates to other companies. If there are other opportunities on the table for them you should use this information wisely.

If you feel at the end of your time together that this might be the right candidate for the position then you can choose to physically walk them through the work area as they exit your company. Showing them around the office or just an area that they might be working in and introducing them to some staff along the way will allow the candidate to visualize their place in your company and can create a comfort level within that vision. Remember, it is still up to you to present your company, the position and benefits in the most positive light to capture the right candidate over your competition. Using this last step before they leave, if you are so inclined, can further add to their enthusiasm in wanting the job and will impart a lasting impression.

Nothing is guaranteed to be fool proof when interviewing and hiring employees, but being an effective interviewer is critical to your success rate and tenure of your staff. It will streamline the process and help you recruit better employees with lasting results.

"Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work"-Aristotle  


Denise Dema is a Business and Life Management Coach

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