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Published Articles by David Balovich

Title: Recruiting and Selecting Employees #3
Published in: Creditworthy News
Date: 8/7/02

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 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.

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