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Once your project is planned, approved and ready to execute, a project team must be put together. In some cases, you need to hire for the positions. These could be employee hires or contractors. The interview process is important – even more so if the person will be a full-time employee. Here are a few simple rules to remember before your interview.
Understand the job opening. Sometimes people interview a candidate and afterward wonder what position the candidate was being interviewed for. You can best evaluate the candidate if you have a mental picture of what he will be doing.
Understand your role. Different people usually have different roles and expectations in the interview process. For instance, you might be asked to comment on whether the candidate is a good personality fit for the team. You might also be asked to perform a technical interview. Each interviewer should understand whether he has specific interview expectations.
Be prepared. Make sure that you have reviewed the candidate’s resume ahead of time. Jot down some questions that will allow you to gain insight into the person’s background and ability. You may also have additional questions that your company requires you to ask as part of a standard review process.
Clear your mind. Do not go into the interview thinking about the sales promotion that is not going well or the problem you need to fix. While you are in the interview, focus on the discussion at hand.
Ask and listen. Have you been to an interview where the interviewer did all the talking? That is not what you are there for. Instead, ask questions and listen to the responses. Ask follow-up questions when possible to keep a dialog going.
It is good if multiple members of your team are part of the interview process. In this case, there are two main formats. The first is the “revolving door”. You get the candidate in a room and bring in the interviewers one at a time. Similarly the candidate can move from office to office to speak one-on-one with the interviewers. This method gives everyone a chance to gain an independent opinion of the candidate from different perspectives and using different questions, but it does require a longer time commitment from the candidate.
The second format is the “Spanish Inquisition” (apologies to any readers from Spain). You get the interview team in one room with the candidate. This approach lets everyone hear the same story one time and is the most efficient use of the candidate’s time. One drawback is that it can be very intimidating. You need to go out of your way to maintain a friendly and casual atmosphere. Many people’s preference for a group interview is the Inquisition, since everyone hears the same story and it gives some indication of how well the candidate responds under some pressure.
Your company is relying on you to help ensure that qualified candidates are hired. This is an important job and should be taken seriously. Whether you interview one-on-one or in a group, make sure you ask thoughtful questions and listen carefully to the responses. Then, be prepared to provide honest feedback during the interview debriefing process. This increases the value you provide to the interview process and helps your company make good, long-term hires for the future.