This is the final installment of a three- part article on recruiting
and selecting employees.
Interviewing applicants is a key step in the selection process. This is
when the majority of information about a candidate is obtained, when the
candidate develops impressions about the organization, and when decisions
about the match between candidate and position occur. Sufficient time
should be allocated to prepare for, conduct, and summarize each interview.
The most important aspect in the interview process is preparation.
Prior to meeting with the candidate job descriptions and requirements
should be reviewed and skill categories should be defined. Once the skill
categories have been defined, several questions should be prepared for
each skill category. EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission)
guidelines prohibit questions about marital status, children, age,
national origin, birthplace, religion, sex, race, ownership of a house or
car, credit rating, or type of military discharge. EEOC guidelines suggest
that all candidates for a job be asked the same questions, so as to avoid
bias. Therefore, it is important that a series of skill related questions
be established so that questioning does not stray over to prohibited
topics. Managers who are unprepared for interviews not only present a poor
image of the company but also tend to find they violate federal law by
asking inappropriate questions. The manager who prepares makes efficient
use of the time allotted for interviews and obtains pertinent information
about the candidate’s qualifications.
It is recommended that interview questions be broad and open-ended to
encourage the candidate to respond. For example, questions pertaining to
daily duties at the last job. More specific information can be obtained by
probing specific statements that the candidate makes. By doing this the
interview resembles a conversation rather then an interrogation.
Information about education, previous work experience and relevant skills
is more forthcoming when asked about in a conversational manner.
Occasionally commenting on, but not evaluating, the candidate’s remarks
readily achieve this.
Beware of leading questions that cue the candidate to provide the
answers that the interviewer wants to hear. The candidate, not the
interviewer, should do the majority of the talking. A good interviewer
must be a careful observer and listener.
In addition to obtaining information, the interviewer must be skilled
in providing thorough and accurate details to the candidate. It is
counterproductive to present an unrealistic picture of the job or the
organization to candidates. Both positive and negative features of the job
should be addressed.
Qualified candidates need to know the realities of a job so they can
determine if the position fits their goals and temperament. Providing an
accurate rather than an attractive picture of the company will improve
both the effective selection and the eventual retention of new employees.
Encourage the candidate to ask questions by providing enough time for
dialogue, by making the candidate feel comfortable throughout the
interview and by soliciting questions in a non-intimidating manner.
Additional insight into candidates can be gained by assessing the number
and types of questions they ask about the job.
It is common for interviewers to take notes while speaking with the
candidate. Note taking, however, should be limited and unobtrusive during
the interview. Then, immediately after the interview, the interviewer
should take time to review the notes and summarize the person’s answers,
record factual information, and to describe the candidate’s appearance
and mannerisms. To make an unbiased decision and to comply with legal
aspects of the selection process, the interviewer should refrain from
recording opinions and unsubstantiated judgments about applicants.
Personal interpretation by the interviewer can never be totally eliminated
from the hiring decisions, but subjective bias must be minimized as much
In addition to written materials and interviews references, degrees and
previous employment should be verified. Degree verification is becoming
increasingly common in the selection process and there are many companies
who provide this service along with public record and employment
Once the investigation has been completed it is time to make the hiring
decision. In each case, the candidate’s job qualifications should be
compared against job factors. The goal should be not to hire the most
stellar candidate, but to make the best match between job and candidate.
I wish you well.