It’s time for the job interview with your potential new hire! When the big moment finally arrives, here are some valuable tips when it comes time to making your overall assessment of your candidate.
Resist “confirmation bias”
It’s important to do your best to observe instead of analyze. ‘Confirmation bias’ refers to people’s tendency to interpret events in accordance with their first impression, which isn’t always accurate. For example, if your candidate shows up late to the interview, do your best to get to the bottom of what had happened before jumping to conclusions.
It’s challenging not to trust your instincts. Try this trick: instead of jotting down your sense of the candidate, note the details and substance of their responses. With a little time and distance, that information will be more valuable than whatever you might have written when feeling hungry, tired, or annoyed.
Ask the same questions
No one likes repeating themselves, but in this case, you need to. Prepare the same set of questions and phrase them exactly the same way to every applicant you interview. How else can you compare them across the board?
Of course, you can use unique probing questions to delve a little deeper. A personal touch—like “tell me about this volunteer work with the Red Cross”—is often more useful than “tell me about yourself.” The idea here is to build off of a basic set of questions that give every applicant the same opportunity to demonstrate aspects of his or her skill set and ability.
In addition, don’t lead applicants to the right answer. Practice subtlety, as Lou Adler does. This CEO has made his career getting companies to adopt performance-based hiring. To that end, he always asks applicants to describe their greatest accomplishments. But he’s not all that interested in the details. “I expect the best managers to tell me about their most significant management accomplishments,” Adler says. “The caution flag is raised very high if they choose mostly individual accomplishments.” The question is standard, but the way it is framed—to identify an applicant’s priorities—provides more value than anything.
Looking for some inspiration?
Here are some interview questions which trigger answers that can reveal a lot about a prospective candidate:
- What obligations do employers have to their workforce?
- What has been the most helpful criticism you’ve received?
- Are you a risk-taker? How so?
- Who is responsible for defusing workplace tension?
- How do you stand up to your boss when you know they’re wrong?
Put your best foot forward
Remember—it’s not just applicants who are on display. Laszlo Bock, Senior Vice President of People Operations at Google, works hard to ensure that even rejected candidates leave with a positive view of the company. “The candidate is in a very vulnerable position,” Bock explains. “It’s worth investing time to make sure they feel good at the end of it because they will tell other people about their experience.” His approach is working. 80 percent of applicants that Google turns down would still recommend the company to another job seeker.
When conducting interviews, try to be as candid as possible and avoid glossing over any less glamorous aspects of the role. Make sure you let every candidate know you appreciate their time. Respecting your interviewee means asking fair questions and giving every response your full, undivided attention. That doesn’t usually pose a problem for the people and culture professional, but offer a gentle reminder to other interviewers on the panel.
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