How to Interview and Find the Perfect Employee

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Hiring an employee entails a great investment of time and finances, so you want to ensure the right fit. Unfortunately, employers are often limited to a short series of rapid interviews before making such an important commitment. To help you hire the ideal employee, here is a basic guide to interviewing.

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Prepare for the interview
While you will have a set of questions to ask each candidate, you should also tailor the interview to each person’s background. By the time an individual has reached the interview stage, you should hopefully be somewhat familiar with his or her resume. Before you meet, review the resume and cover letter again, taking note of particularly relevant experience for the job at hand. It would also be rude to read the applicant’s resume for the first time during the interview, and the prospective employee may leave with a poor impression of your company. Remember that you are also being interviewed, and the last thing you want is for the ideal candidate to turn down your job offer. On a similar note, be prepared to explain the position and your company’s background in detail.

Preparing a script can help you stay on task and guarantee that you get all the important information. Use the script as a guideline rather than a rigid set of required questions. You may need to alter the questions as you go along, in order to find out more about a particular applicant. In between the lines, scripted questions also express the job expectations. When you ask someone how they handle a type of situation, the individual will understand that they will be faced with in those situations. After an interview, the candidates should have a gauge of whether or not the job is right for them.

Ask for anecdotes
Instead of asking a candidate to describe his or her personality, ask for specific stories about past work experiences. Understanding a candidate’s past behavior and style will give you the best gauge for his or her future performance at your company. Ask about prior encounters with teamwork, deadlines, difficult customers or any other situation similar to the ones the employee may encounter in this position. This is a good time to inspect the candidate’s problem-solving skills and overall professionalism.

Don’t trust your gut
First impressions are important, but they can be misleading. We all have internalized biases that we may not even know about. Aside from the more controversial biases of race and gender, factors such as age, accents and even height may play a subconscious role in the interview process. In fact, a study by Hofstra University has shown that employers are more likely to hire attractive people after a job interview. To avoid these biases, take a step back from first impressions and listen closely to each individual candidate during the interview. While your gut has likely served you well in the past, instincts can mislead you into missing out on the most qualified applicant.

Questions to avoid
You should steer clear of topics that you would normally avoid during any polite conversation, notably politics and religion. Stay away from overly personal questions, including those concerning age, marital status, ancestry or race, mental condition and credit history. You should never inquire about physical features such as weight, height or gender. Any of these questions can offend a candidate and may leave you open to accusations of discrimination.

Take copious notes
Even after an excellent interview, you will not remember all of the important details. This is particularly true if you are meeting with several applicants for one position. Notes can jog your memory and make it easier to compare candidates. Just make sure taking notes does not distract you from the interview at hand.

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