Interviewing Due Diligence

You think you’ve found someone who is going to be a great addition to your team. You’ve known him/her for a while and have had many conversations about a variety of topics. You’ve got a good feeling about this person, and you want to bring them on board. But have you discussed the job in detail? Do you know that this person is actually the right person to add to your team?

Often times, when we’re ready to hire, we omit one of the most important steps in the hiring process – the well-planned interview. We have a tendency to avoid anything "formal" but, if done well, the interview will help both you and the potential employee understand what the expectations are for the job and, whether or not the potential employee will meet them. By-pass the interview and you might make a hire that you regret. So, how do you make sure you are performing your interviewing due diligence?

Prepare for the interview
Conducting a good interview does require some planning on your part. But, if this effort helps you to secure a really good hire, it is well worth it. Prepare for your interviews by following a few simple steps.

Step 1 – Clearly identify what the job entails
Write up at least a short job description about what you want the potential employee to do. Identify job duties, responsibilities, and expectations. Include specifics regarding start and end times and, whether or not the job requires certain physical abilities like lifting 50, 75 or even 100 lbs. List out the qualifications (both technical and non-technical) for the job. Maybe describe a typical day. Not only will writing out a job description help you organize what you want the potential employee to do, it will also help you understand what abilities and qualities you are looking for in a potential new hire.

A note about "Job Applications"
It is always good practice to develop a "Job Application" form for anyone who approaches you for a job. Whether someone walks into your place of business seeking employment, or whether you call someone in for an interview, asking a standard set of questions regarding the applicant’s work history, expected pay, and background allows you to keep good records on all job applicants. If you are hiring for a specific job, you should also make sure to include that specific job description on the application so the applicant will know what is required of him/her. All job applications should be signed by the applicant making it clear to everyone what is required to be considered for hiring.

Step 2 – Prepare a set of interview questions
Think about the specific criteria (both technical and non-technical) which would make a candidate the ideal person for the job and, develop a limited set of specific questions pertaining to the essential duties and responsibilities. Ask for specific examples on how a candidate will perform while in the job. Some sample questions you might ask:

  • Have you kept up in your field with additional training?
  • What kind of hours are you used to working or would like to work?
  • What type of plumbing job do you like to do best? Least? Why?
  • Give me an example of a situation where you had difficulty with a client and how you handled that situation?

For more ideas on what questions to ask, check out 50 Great Interview Questions and Interviewing Questions.

A good set of interview questions will also allow you to probe for the candidate’s strengths and weaknesses and, whether or not they have the work ethic that fits your organization’s. The more specific the questions, the more valuable the interview will be. If a candidate gives vague answers, they might not have the specific experience or non-technical qualities you are looking for. Develop questions related to a candidate’s prior work history to find out why they may have left a previous job and, listen carefully to the answers. If someone has switched jobs several times over the past couple of years, are there reasons that might have you think about how long they might actually stay working for you?

A word of caution: there are Federal Guidelines around interviewing questions. Under the Commonwealth Sex Discrimination Act of 1984, you are not allowed to ask questions about an individual's race, color, religion or creed, sex, national origin, age and disability. Other off-limits questions are those related to an individual's marital status and children. For more on what you can and should not ask, check out "Illegal Interview Questions" and "Top Job Interview Questions to Help You Select the Best."

Follow some simple interviewing "Do’s" and "Don’ts"
Good planning gets you half the way there. All the preparation in the world will not insure that your interviews will confirm an ideal, or ferret out, a not so ideal candidate. But, some simple interviewing do’s and don’ts can help:

Do
1. Do interview more than one candidate for each position.
You may believe that you found the ideal candidate right off the bat – but interviewing at least two people for the same position will give you a basis for comparison. You may be surprised at what you find out in the interview: You may find some things you like better in each candidate; you might find that your "ideal" candidate is not right for the position or your organization after all.

2. Do ask every candidate the same set of questions.
Only by asking each candidate the same set of questions will you be able to accurately compare each candidate’s abilities and appropriateness for the job. Asking the same questions of each candidate will allow you to compare the answers from each candidate giving you insight as to who you believe will fit better in your organization.

3. Do record and summarize observations about each candidate.
Take notes and lots of them. Notes about how well a candidate answered a specific question will come in handy when you are trying to figure out the better candidate for the job.

4. Do have more than one person interview each candidate.
Having another team member’s opinion on how well someone may or may not fit within your organization is always good practice.

5. Do spend more time listening than talking.
If you have a good set of interview questions, this last "do" should be easy to follow. Really listen to the candidate’s answers and you’ll be amazed at what you learn about them.

6. Do have each applicant sign a job description.
The best way to accomplish this is to have each and every applicant sign a job application with the job description on it. If you are not asking for job applications to be completed, type up the job description and have each candidate sign it.

7. Do conduct background checks.
A background check will allow you to find out more about a potential candidate. There are costs involved that are well worth spending if it keeps you from hiring a candidate you otherwise would have passed on. For more about one company we’ve heard of that conducts background checks, visit Truescreen.

Don’t
1. Don’t skip references.
Once you’ve decided on your favorite candidate, make sure you check references. See "9 Tips on Checking References" for how.

2. Don’t "squeeze" in the interview.
Interviewing takes time. Make sure you schedule enough time in your day to spend the right amount of time interviewing each candidate. Neither you nor the candidate wants to be rushed.

By conducting your interviewing due diligence, you should be well on the way to identifying, and hiring, a great new member to your team.

Have any questions?
There’s a lot here. Call us with any questions or if you need clarification on anything we mention in this article. You can send a note to newsletter@weinsteintrade.com or contact your local Weinstein Supply rep and we’ll be happy to help.

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