The search for qualified candidates to fill vacancies within an organization often involves a face-to-face interview. The interviewing process is an important tool, used to gauge the personality of the interviewee, as well as an opportunity to provide information about the position. A prospective employee uses the process to gain insight about the company and to sell themselves, their expertise and the skills they bring to the table. As an employer, a process to determine if the applicant is a fit for the job and a fit within the company’s culture is critical.

It’s important to understand how to be effective when screening prospective employees in order to get the most out of the interviewing process.  Planning and preparing for interviews will help interviewers get the most out of the process. Pre-planned, focused interview questions that extract what needs to be known about the interviewee will help determine their suitability for the job.

How to Plan and Prepare for an Effective Interview

It is best to plan and prepare before engaging an applicant in a job interview. The process of interviewing is something that most ‘think’ they already understand, yet many do not take the necessary time required to prepare properly. An atmosphere of urgency and impending deadlines not only limits the amount of time spent interviewing job candidates but also the quality and effectiveness of these interviews.

Creating a guided plan helps to get the most out of the time allocated for the interview. Just as executives prepare for important business meetings and sales presentations, they similarly should have an outline of the objectives for each interview along with a list of the topics to be covered.

Creating Interview Questions

Open-ended questions are the best types of questions to ask during an employee job interview. These types of questions allow interviewers to dig deeper and to expose a candidate’s inner thoughts and feelings as they relate to a given topic. Questions that elicit a mere recitation of dates and facts do not provide the depth of knowledge needed to properly judge the qualifications of a candidate. Open-ended questions provide employers with a way to induce creative thinking and discover not only quantitative data (that appears in a CV or job application) but the qualitative data needed to determine if a person is a fit for a specific company.

Understanding and Applying the Techniques of Effective Interviewing

A basic model for effective interviewing includes lighter, introductory questions, followed by more in-depth questions that discuss a candidate’s accomplishments. These questions should allow a candidate to conduct a self-appraisal of their skills and qualifications rather than eliciting a regurgitation of facts from their resume. Finally, an interview should feature competency probing questions that spotlight how a candidate might solve hypothetical problems, or how they have overcome past challenges. The use of this model will provides a fuller evaluation of the interviewee and a way to match that evaluation with the job description, giving hiring managers a basis to make a well informed decision.

Hiring the wrong employee can be an extremely costly mistake, and for smaller businesses or start-ups, the damage can be crippling. Taking the time to conduct a well-prepared interview is a key component in assessing who the best candidate is for a job position.

[Image Credit: blueskyimage / 123RF Stock Photo]
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