is the final installment of a three- part article on recruiting and
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
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 as possible.
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 investigation.
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.