The hiring process always entails some risk. You may do all of your due diligence, rigorously screening candidates and ultimately extending an offer to someone who seems just about perfect… only to find, once they join your team, that they’re not at all what you expected or hoped for.

There’s no way to avoid this altogether, but there are some steps you can take to mediate your risk. One of the most important things you can do is learn how to interview in a really powerful and effective way. With the right approach, you can get to know the real applicant, identify potential red flags, and feel fairly confident about the kind of employee they’ll be once they’re on the payroll.

Where Interviews Go Awry

Before we get into our tips and advice for interviewers, it’s worth exploring some of the reasons why interviewing is so hard, and often so inaccurate.

  • Obviously, a lot of candidates are going to exaggerate in order to impress you… and it’s not always easy to tell who’s being truthful and who isn’t.
  • Most interviewers make a gut-level decision about the applicant just a minute or two into the interview; these intuitions aren’t always reliable.
  • Simply put, most interviewers are not trained on how to screen applicants and reach informed conclusions about them.

For these and other reasons, two out of three new hires prove to be bad fits within their first year on the job. What’s more, a lot of really talented employees are hired into the wrong roles, and they wind up frustrated. But again, the good news is that mastering a few interview skills can help you minimize this risk.

How to Interview and Find the Right Employees

Here are our tips.

  1. Take the time to prepare. Before the interview, make sure you review all the details of the role you’re trying to fill. Sit down with a list of the core duties and responsibilities and write out a list of standard questions that are based on this job description.
  2. Give a sense of purpose. Really skilled, qualified applicants may have a number of job opportunities lined up… so part of your job as an interviewer is helping them see why yours is the company they might want to work for. Be ready to offer just a quick summary of your company’s vision, mission, culture, and values.
  3. Define success. What will the employee require to succeed in their role? Are there specific technological competencies or other hard skills they’ll need? What about training and certifications? Make sure you ask about these things.
  4. Go beyond the job description. Remember, you’re not just looking for the right set of skills. You’re also looking for the right personality match. It can be hard to make this determination based on one interview, but personality tests (D.I.S.C., etc.) can be helpful. Also, don’t hesitate to ask soft skill questions, like how the applicant would handle a conflict.
  5. Leave time for questions at the end. Remember, the interview should be a two-way street. Often, you can tell a lot about a job applicant by the kinds of questions they ask, and the level of interest they show in learning more about your company.

Additional Tips for Interviewers

Something else we recommend for interviewers is asking some behavioral questions. These questions can be really useful for discovering how an applicant makes decisions, what kind of judgment they exhibit, and how much initiative they’ll take. Here are a few examples of the kinds of questions we’re talking about here:

  • “Provide an example of when you…”
  • Tell me about a crisis that your team faced, and explain to me how you addressed it.
  • Can you tell me about a time when you approached your supervisor to request additional responsibility?
  • Tell me about the largest or most challenging project you ever took on.
  • Has there ever been a time when you’ve broken the rules?
  • What’s your personal approach to conflict resolution in the workplace?

Another tip for interviewers is to ask some situation-based questions. These, too, can be useful for determining an applicant’s judgment and initiative. With situational questions, you provide the applicant with a hypothetical scenario, and then ask questions like these:

  • What do you think you would do in a situation like this?
  • What additional information would you try to obtain before responding?
  • Is this a situation where you’d want to seek help? If so, from whom?

These may not be questions where there is a right answer and a wrong one. Instead, they allow you to get a sense of how the applicant thinks on the fly, which can be pretty revealing as to the kind of employee they would be.

Master the Art of the Interview

As you seek the best employees for your company, it’s crucial that you spend time developing interview skills. Hopefully, you’ll find the tips in this article to be helpful in that regard.

Also remember that you can enlist the help of professional recruiters, who can conduct on-site interviews on your behalf. That’s a service we’re happy to offer at Performance Staffing Solutions. To find out more about how we can help you locate the very best employees, reach out to Performance Staffing Solutions at your next opportunity.