The interview process is a tedious and all consuming task for both the interviewers and the interviewees. But you want to make the best decision possible in order to save your company (and yourself) time, money, and headaches. Because you have already determined the type of talent you are looking for as well as the specific job functions you want that talent to complete, you have already avoided many common interview pitfalls. In addition, because you have already determined the salary range and benefits package you can afford, you can easily sidestep some of the other common miscommunications frequently faced during the hiring process. You have even placed your ads and spread the word, perhaps even hired recruiters; you are ready to begin seeing applicants.
Wait, no, you are not.
As resumes flood in, it is important to remember that you are attempting to hire talent that will play an integral role in the development of your business; you are not hiring a cashier for a fast food joint. Unless you are the only person who has a management role in your company at this time, other people are going to feel the effects of whomever you choose to hire. Frequently, it is ideal for at least some of these individuals to participate with you in the process of choosing talent. Obviously, managers and leaders in key roles should be considered for inclusion during the interview process. A representative from Human Resources should also be there, especially if you will be interviewing more seasoned professionals.
However, the list does not have to stop there, other stakeholders (in the metaphorical, not the literal sense) may have an important perspective to consider. Significant clients or community partners may have a stake and a legitimate voice when it comes to potential new talent. Of course, you will want to decide ahead of time the impact those stakeholders and their opinions can have on your decision and communicate that with them to avoid potential miscommunication or conflict.
Naturally, you will want to be respectful of everyone's time and effort and thus you are unlikely to hold a full panel of reviewers for a large number of applicants or interviews. Consequently, a multistep review process may be ideal, especially given that you are hiring to fill important positions. Once you decide who comprises the list, get a consensus as to when would be convenient for all group members to sit in on secondary or tertiary interviews from top candidates.
Next, consider what you want to include when composing the interview. Under most circumstances, it is ideal to include some type of objective assessment tool that will help each member of the interview team to more fairly and equitably assess each candidate; there may be some subjectivity to how each interviewer rates the candidates but it will still be much more equitable if they are reviewed using similar measures across the board. Use of a subjective hiring tool also helps protect you and your company legally. This tool should help provide for some clarity and schedule or sequence to guide the interview as well.
However, questions and answers are not the only useful measurement and may not even be the most accurate way to predict an individual's competency and potential as talent. There are websites ad nauseam to help interviewees prepare for ways to answer typical interview questions. One way to help get a more genuine answer is to ask some open ended questions or request that a candidate share experiences they have had that will help you better determine their potential. Of course, these can be faked also and may not provide as much guidance as you need, especially for certain types of positions. You may want to consider some type of role play or a test to assess a candidate's skill. For example, someone applying for a position that will include public speaking might be asked to give an impromptu presentation during the interview. Alternatively, a writer might be requested to compose a short sales letter prior to the interview. Either way, you are more likely to get a more accurate assessment of where that candidate is at that moment with regard to a specific skill.
One of the most important things you can do during an interview is to keep focus on the candidates' competencies and potential rather than their experience or skills alone. Otherwise, you may miss undiscovered talent and choose to hire someone skilled or knowledgeable but who cannot adapt or creatively problem solve. You will also want to see what kinds of questions each candidate asks regarding your company. If they are focused only on salary and vacation days, they may be looking for a job rather than a career. Alternatively, if they ask questions about potential for growth within the company or questions regarding company culture or previous experiences in the position for which they are applying, they are likely looking for a good fit rather than simply a paycheck. Above all, ask candidates questions to which you want the answers; do not try to trick them or put them in a difficult situation. Requiring an interviewee to submit a salary request, for example, tells you little about what they are really looking for, while telling them that you either want them to jump through hoops or that there is a right or wrong answer to give.
Instead, consider what other benefits you may be able to acquiesce that may help empower them to accept a lower salary. Number of vacation days or the percentage you pay towards their health insurance, for example, may make all the difference in the world. Prior to offering a position to a candidate, be absolutely certain that both of you know what you are getting into as much as possible. Before you make your offer sit down with them and ensure that they understand their potential role in the company and what you expect from them both in terms of job responsibilities as well as company culture.
Being realistic with them about your expectations regarding work hours, supervision level, freedom of communication, and other potential areas of confusion. Because you anticipate a longer working relationship with talent than with many typical employees, it is often best to have a trial period during which you both assess their fit within the organization. This trial period will become part of the onboarding process and should help both of you determine whether there is a genuine potential for a long term working relationship or if there is unlikely to be a fit.
Remember, there are several things that are important not to do during the hiring process. In fact, some of these are considered downright unethical while others are simply poor business management. Do not interview people just to interview them, if you already know who you intend to hire for a position, do not waste other people's time. If you think you know who you want to hire but still want to see what else is out there for upcoming openings or other legitimate reasons, let the candidate know. Telling a candidate that you want to consider all of your options even though it is unlikely you will be able to hire them at this time allows the candidate to decide whether they can and are willing to invest that time in giving you the opportunity to see what they have to offer.