Archives For Step 4 – Interviewing

Save yourself from terrible face-to-face interviews by doing phone screens first! We’ll coach you on how to conduct effective phone screens, or we can do them for you. Once you’ve identified candidates you’d like to bring in for interview, you can use our interviewing guidelines to help you prepare.

As readers enjoy the tail-end of summer, we hope you enjoy this popular blog from Leora reposted from a few years back.

The other day my mom sent me an email that didn’t include a family photo. Instead she asked this question:

What is the difference between phone interview (also called “phone screening”) questions and interview questions?

Here is the email I sent to her:

“Hi Mom:

It’s so cool that you asked! Here is how I think about it. The goal of the phone interview is to identify a few people who you would like to invite for a face-to-face interview. The goal of the face-to-face interview is to identify one or two candidates you’d like to hire. The different goals should drive the kinds of questions you ask in each setting.

About 10% of the total candidate pool (all the people who apply) will meet your minimum qualifications. Use the phone interview to identify the best available talent from that 10%. Don’t expect to learn everything about every candidate, but, find out enough information to decide whether or not to invite them for a face-to-face interview.”

This is a question we hear often at NewHire and here is how to handle phone and in-person interviewing process:

  • Start by emailing an invitation to schedule a phone appointment. You might not realize it but this is already part of the interview. Your goal is to confirm that the candidate can follow up professionally. It may sound silly, but setting and keeping appointments is a work skill for lots of job titles.
  • Limit your phone conversation to 30 minutes. I like to start by asking about the most recent position and the duties and responsibilities. Find out why they are looking for a new job. Confirm that they can speak appropriately and professionally. Listen for negative language about past employers, duties, or coworkers. Listen for language that suggests the candidate felt a sense of commitment and belonging in their last job. Using words like “us” and “we” instead of “they” is one way a candidate might express this sense of belonging and ownership.  End the phone interview with clear information about follow-up and decision making schedule.
  • Use face-to-face interviews to decide whether or not the candidate should be hired. Confirm that they have the right set of soft skills, the right experience and the right work behaviors and attitudes to be successful in the job. Learn about their work history (ask about every job they’ve had), education, hobbies, and volunteer work. Decide if they will be an asset to the organization. Ask tough technical questions. Don’t be afraid of silence in the interview; give the candidate time to answer.
  • Expect to spend at least an hour with the candidate. Use the opportunity to gather a variety of information to make a smart hiring choice for your organization. Find out if you like the person and would enjoy having them as a team member.

Most importantly, be patient. Hiring takes time and effort. Look for the right person. Happy interviewing!

 

A solid interview plan is one crucial step in hiring. Sometimes even with the best planning, interviews can cause hiring headaches! Sure, we worry about and guard against the big issues – like someone asking illegal questions. And sure, we are disappointed by poor interviews with candidates who seemed well qualified on paper. I want to share another scenario that can cause internal conflict: derailing, delaying or scuttling a hire entirely.

Consider this story, maybe it sounds familiar? After a full day of interviews, conducted by three teams, it’s time for us to compare notes and decide whether or not to hire the candidate. As the debriefing conversation proceeds it seems like we didn’t interview the same person! Each person presents a unique perspective on the candidate, and has a different take on their ability to bring value to the company as a new employee. Wait, wait, how can that be? I’m quite sure we all met with the same applicant.

My recent visit to The Heard Museum in Phoenix AZ provided me with a new understanding of this challenging phenomena. The special exhibit featuring works of the famous artists Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo (on exhibit through August 20, 2017) seems like a surprising place to find inspiration for understanding the challenges of interviews.

Check out these paintings (click for a full-size image). Three portraits, three artists, one model. The woman in each (think of her as the candidate you just interviewed) is Natasha Gelman. She and her husband Jacques were famous collectors of 20th century art. The Gelman’s were also friends with Diego Rivera and his wife Frida Kahlo.

Natasha Gelman by Diego Rivera

Natasha Gelman, by Diego Rivera, 1942

Natasha Gelman by Frida Kahlo

Natasha Gelman, by Frida Kahlo, 1943

 

 

 

 

 

Natasha Gelman by Ángel Zárraga

Natasha Gelman by Ángel Zárraga

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wow. It doesn’t take a an art critic or rocket scientist to see that there is something going on here. Three interviews, three perspectives, three opinions, and no consensus.

If we asked each  artist (interviewer) for their input on hiring this candidate you would NOT be surprised if they were unable to come to consensus. Each artist (interviewer) clearly has a unique point of view.  Maybe they aren’t even interviewing her with the same job description in mind!

Diego is portraying a gorgeous woman in a most flattering light – perhaps influenced by his benefactor, Natasha’s husband, who commissioned the work. In contrast, Frida’s portrait makes Natasha seem severe, distant, demanding and a bit sad. (Could Frida be expressing her own worries about all that time Diego and Natasha have been spending together?). And Ángel Zárraga’s Natasha, seems to be waiting, lacking motivation or self-determination. In the Zárraga portrait Natasha appears almost cherubic. It is impossible to tell if his description of Natasha is a reflection of his lesser artistic skill or his impression of the woman.

Are these portraits the result of personal perspective or is this implicit (unconscious) bias* at work? Or maybe both? When we are talking about a work of art, we typically expect to see the subject through the artist’s eyes, bias and all.  But when we are interviewing, and a candidate’s career, and the company’s ability to thrive, all hang in the balance, we might be more concerned about being inappropriately influenced by one interviewer’s point of view, or bias, whether it is implicit or explicit.

When it comes to hiring, we start worrying that implicit bias might lead us astray, causing us to miss an opportunity for a great hire. It can also lead to bitter arguments and political wrangling among team members about the appropriateness of one candidate over another. However, when we are talking about art we might call this bias artistic license, and enjoy the result.

We can protect ourselves and our company from hiring mistakes caused by bias during interviews by collecting and considering a variety of non-subjective information about the candidate. It is imperative to get a multi-faceted picture of the candidate, before we make a hiring decision. Effective hiring starts long before the interview and requires a thoughtful, well executed, multi-step process.

It’s safe to say that we’ve learned about interviewing from two famous artist Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo!

Notes and Links:

  1. *Implicit bias refers to the attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions in an unconscious manner.
  2. For more reading on implicit or unconscious bias: http://theundercoverrecruiter.com/ai-reduce-unconscious-bias/
  3. Frida Kahlo web site
  4. Diego Rivera web site
  5. Ángel Zárraga on Wikipedia

 

This is a true story about a mid-sized manufacturing company in Oklahoma that needed some help finding the right person for their job…

 

For any company, recruiting can be a daunting task. From putting the ad together and advertising to managing a large pile of applications and resumes – the entire process can be a headache for business owners or hiring managers who don’t have the right tools in place before they start. Especially when you are stuck handling the process single handedly or on a small team, screening alone can dominate your time. Much of this is true for companies in the manufacturing industry – companies like Progressive Stamping, who reached out to NewHire.

When Dave Younge, President at Progressive Stamping, initially contacted NewHire, he expressed interest in establishing a recruiting process and getting assistance filling an Account Manager position.

“I wanted a person that would be a good fit to our organization’s culture.  I did not want a person who had great skills and experience but was a poor person with whom to work.  I shared this concern with Sean Little (Account Manager) and asked how NewHire could make that happen.  He demonstrated the technology and explained how they could customize the application.” – Dave Younge – President of Progressive Stamping

He needed the framework to get started, and then he would be able to drive the hiring process forward on his own. With these things in mind, he purchased our NewHire Elements service.

Continue Reading…

Congratulations, it’s time to interview your top candidates! You’ve been working diligently through the steps of the recruiting process and you’ve narrowed the field to a few top candidates. Now it’s time to bite the bullet and conduct interviews. “What’s Love Got To Do With It?”  Everything and nothing! What better way to explore this emotional time in the recruiting process than quoting this iconic song?

“You must understand That the touch of your hand Makes my pulse react”

From the first handshake and introductions to the final thank you’s; it’s common that both the interviewer and the interviewee’s pulse will react. We are all human and our heart rate and blood pressure are likely to rise in any stressful situation. Interviews are no exception.

One way to manage the stress is preparation. Have a game plan. Know what the goal of the interview is, and have a prepared set of questions that you will use to achieve that goal. Before the interview, study up on the candidate too. Review everything you already know about them; re-read their application, resume, results from tests or assessments, and their LinkedIn profile.  Make a list of candidate specific questions that you want to ask in addition to the ones you have already prepared.

“You must try to ignore that it means more than that …”

The overall goal of interviews is to gather additional information to aid in making a selection decision. You are likely also trying to get to know the candidate to find out if they will be an asset to the team and pleasant to work with. Every aspect of the conversation is important, from the candidate’s initial contact with security or reception personnel at the front door to body language and communication style during the interview.

There are a number of possible specific goals for the interview. Your specific goal for the interview may depend on the job title you are filling. The specific goal of the interview will impact its structure and content.

For example you might be assessing technical knowledge, and ask the candidate to perform technical tasks to demonstrate knowledge. Or,you might ask the candidate to solve a coding problem on a whiteboard, assembling a product from instructions, or producing a writing sample.  Alternatively, you might be exploring specific soft-skills including personal motivations or work behaviors like the ability to manage multiple simultaneous projects and teams. You might probe for this behavior by asking the candidate to reflect on how they would respond to a situation you present.  Another goal of the interview is to verify details of past work experience as a way of exploring personal integrity issues, past accomplishments and experience  appropriate to this opportunity.

“It may seem to you that I’m acting confused”

Sometimes candidates find details of the opportunity confusing and want additional clarification. It’s important to allow enough time in the interview to give the candidate an opportunity to ask questions too. Listen carefully to the questions the candidate asks. These questions are important and  might give you insight into their past challenges or about employment issues important to them. In the best case the candidate might express an eye-opening concern that indicates to you that they have gone the extra mile in preparing and thinking about the company and the opportunity.

Remember that in a one or two hour interview you won’t be able to learn everything about the candidate, so use your time to find out about factors you know to be important for on-the-job success.

“I`ve been thinking of a new direction but I have to say I`ve been thinking about my own protection”

When you’re hiring be aware that you are considering a new direction –  in the form of a new person who will be joining the company. Everyone involved, the candidate and the employer is also thinking about their own interests and about protecting themselves.

You, representing the employer, want to avoid a variety of possible negative outcomes. Those include possible liability and the costs of a mis-hire. Additionally, you want to get the right person in the job. Typically, the candidate wants to be sure the new position includes the opportunity to learn more, earn more and do more. The candidate also doesn’t want to quit his or her current job, only to discover that they don’t get along with the manager. Neither the employer nor the candidate wants to discover down the road that the new opportunity is a poor fit. Everyone involved is assessing risk and acting to protect themselves. After all…”Who needs a heart when a heart can be broken?”

By TimDuncan (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By TimDuncan (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

“Oh what’s love got to do, got to do with it?”

It’s easy to fall in love with a candidate during an interview when you discover that you share similarities Perhaps you graduated from the same college or know people in common. Other similarities might be more obscure – like discovering a shared hobby or interest. But love is not necessarily the only emotion to focus on during an interview. It’s possible to really love a candidate during the interview, and realize that despite the feeling of personal affinity, they are a poor match for the job.

There are times when you might find that candidates you are interviewing are dissimilar from you. For example when a founder or CEO who is focused on sales, interviews candidates for a key accounting position, that founder, an extrovert with a customer-focused sense of urgency, might be put off by the reserved, methodical and detail orientation that a well qualified CFO or Accounting Manager exhibits during the interview. If you’ve been in this type of situation you know that these types of differences might prevent you from feeling personal affinity and you might not fall in love with ANY of the candidates, even though one or two might be well a great asset to your company.

In this case, on-the-job success is more likely with a candidate who exhibits certain types of behaviors which are different from the CEO. This is a case where the interviewer might NOT feel personal affinity or love for the best qualified candidate. You might find yourself in a position where you have to overcome a feeling of lack-of-love in order to make a solid hire.  Remember what Tina said…” What`s love but a second-hand emotion?”

Tina Turner taught us a lot about love and a lot about interviewing. Here a few key take-aways:

  1. You might feel nervous – but preparation will carry you a long way

  2. Know what the specific goal of the interview is – are you assessing technical knowledge, social skills, or work behaviors, or a combination of all three?

  3. Make sure that there is time to address the candidate’s questions – you can learn a lot by listening to the candidate’s concerns

  4. Every job deserves the right person – and you, the interviewer, might not feel personal affinity with that best candidate, especially if you are hiring them to do a job very different from your own.

Just like every superhero needs a title, so does every job or position that you are recruiting for.  As the main searchable component for your job ad, having the wrong title could be your kryptonite.

With the huge surge in superhero movies lately, I figured I would take a stab at addressing the whole name and title issue.  One of the first Marvel comic book series ever created was the story of the Fantastic Four.  Four scientists were sent to outer space to conduct a mission and during the mission, came into contact with cosmic rays.   These cosmic rays forever changed the four scientists by giving each of them a unique power.  There was Sue Storm, who gained the ability to make herself transparent leading her to call herself the “Invisible Woman”.  Her brother, Johnny Storm, found himself with the ability to surround himself with flames and called himself the “Human Torch”.  Not bad so far but here is where it gets a little misleading.  Reed Richards gained the ability to stretch his entire body into different shapes and sizes.  Now, instead of going with the obvious choice of “Elastic Man”, he decided to go with “Mr. Fantastic”.  The fourth and final scientist obtained the unique ability that gave him super human strength hidden underneath a rocky shell.  While “Super-Human Strong Rock Man” has a great ring to it, he decided on the name “The Thing”.

Recruiting Superhero

So, how do poorly named superheroes fit into the world of recruiting?  If your job title does not match your job duties, you are going to have a hard time getting the right person to apply.   Having the wrong job title or job name can confuse likely applicants.  If you are looking for an Account Manager but your job description reads more like a Sales Representative, the right people won’t apply and your recruiting efforts will be unsuccessful.

Let’s stick with the examples from the top of the page.  If I were to lay out the abilities that Mr. Fantastic has, it would look something like this:

  • Can stretch to impossible lengths
  • Can take the shape of most objects
  • Elastic properties
  • Super strength

Now, if we didn’t know the name of this superhero was Mr. Fantastic, based on what is highlighted here, what would we call him?  My guess is Mr. Fantastic wouldn’t even be one of the top 100 choices.

If we do the same thing with the Human Torch:

  • Can surround himself with fire
  • Has the characteristics of a torch
  • Looks Human
  • Can Fly

Do you think someone would have stumbled upon the name “Human Torch” rather quickly?  I think so.

Think about the two examples when creating a job ad.  If the title of the job doesn’t match up with the skills and experience the job requires, you will get a lot of applicants that are unqualified for the job.   If you are looking for a woman with transparent qualities, the job title should be “Invisible Woman”…not the “Thing”

According to Dr. Albert Mehrabian, author of Silent Messages, nonverbal behavior accounts for over 55% of daily communication. When it comes to interviews, it is very important to be aware and in control of your non-verbal behavior.

Whether you are the interviewer or the interviewee, the interview is the time to use non-verbal communication to show that you are really paying attention. Most of us are not even aware of what message we are sending with our body when speaking with other individuals. The person we are speaking with might get an impression that is opposite of our intention. Below are a few common non verbal cues we may not realize are sending the wrong message to potential employers.

Body Language 1

Body Language 101: The Handshake

There are many ways to shake hands, but only one right way to shake the hand of a potential employer. No one likes a limp fish where you barely grab someone’s hand and it feels like a fish, softly flopping up and down in your palm. On the other hand (no pun intended), you should also avoid the hand cruncher.  Don’t squeeze so tight that someone might think you’re angry and want to break their hand. Stick with a firm handshake that shows you’re confident and professional.

Attire

Ever hear the saying “dress for the job you want” thrown around? Well it’s true! If you are interviewing for an executive position, look like an executive. Nice button up and slacks at the very least – or slacks, dress, or skirt. Even if you are interviewing for an office job or sales position, you should look at least business casual. In short, do your best to look presentable. Even though your attire doesn’t necessarily reflect your experience, your appearance does affect the potential employer’s first impression of you.

Eye contact

Look the interviewer in the eyes. It might seem a little scary at first, but once you get more comfortable in the interview it will be easier. Making eye contact shows you’re confident. Once you start looking away, staring at your lap, or glancing at your watch, the employer might assume you’re either not interested or can’t stay focused. It’s natural to be nervous, employers expect that, but don’t let your nerves takeover your whole interview.

Folding arms

Nothing says “I don’t want to talk to you” more than folding your arms. Folding your arms is seen as a wall you are placing between you and the interviewer. This non-verbal behavior shows you are guarded and standoffish. Keep your arms open, relaxed on your lap or your hands folded together. Use your arms and hands to portray a positive message.

Leaning back

Sometimes in an interview you might sit in a chair that allows you to lean back. Don’t do it. When you lean back, you might be giving the non-verbal communication that you are pulling away from an employer. Sit upright and with good composure. Use your body language to show that you are listening, interested, and engaged in the conversation.

All of these things can be mastered with practice. Sometimes it takes a couple of interviews to really get on the right track, but once you are aware of the non-verbal behaviors, you can learn how to correct them. Ready to start interviewing? You can start applying for jobs today by visiting the NewHire job board or follow NewHire on Facebook and Twitter!

Recruiting Q&A

During a conversation in May with some of the top executives at small and mid-sized businesses nationwide, NewHire asked them to write down what questions they had about recruiting. Many of the questions we received in response fell into categories that we define in our 6 Step Recruiting Process.

Below is part two of a two part blog series outlining answers to those pressing questions. To see Part One of this blog, and the first three steps to the recruiting process, click here.

Step 4: Interviewing

Q: How do I interview to know if someone will fit in sales?

A: The recruiting process for sales reps should mirror the selling process for your sales reps as closely as possible. Be polite during an initial phone screen, but don’t be afraid to tell a candidate, “I’m not so sure this is going to work.” Their answer to that comment will give you an idea of how good they will be at handling objections.

Also, if you think you have the right candidate, give them a chance to close. Forget about the candidate for a day or two and see if they call you to follow up.

Finally, there are a variety of sales assessments available on the market that can pre-screen candidates for you so that you’re only talking to people who will fit in sales. Do some research, think critically, and decide if you want to invest in one that will help you find the right people.

Q: How can you match personality to company culture – during an interview, when people often don’t show their true personality?

A: We try to gauge “personality” or work behaviors, motivations, and personal drive in every step of the hiring process. From the initial application to the phone screen to the in-person interview, collect as many data points as you can about a candidate. If you still think they’re not showing their true colors, be up front with them. Ask them if you can expect to see the person they are presenting once they start with your company. Make it clear that if they’re not, both parties will be negatively affected. Being up front, even this late in the process, can definitely save you some headaches (and money) a few months down the road.

Step 5: Assessing

Q: When hiring for outside sales, how much weight do you give to sales assessments like Sandler?

A: This is very dependent on the job you’re advertising. If it’s a really good job in a talent-rich market, you’ll have enough candidates where you can afford to only talk to the candidates who pass the sales assessment that you subscribe to.
If it’s a really competitive market and you don’t have a wealth of candidates, it’s possible that you’ll have to make some exceptions or extend your search in order to find the right person. If you are having a difficult time getting enough recommended candidates from your assessment, look more carefully at the rejected candidates. Are there some that are close to right and have weaknesses that you can work with?

Q: How can we really find out how they performed in previous jobs?

A: Reference checks are good. But the word “really” in this question makes me think that person who asked might have been burned in the past. Sometimes, a bad reference check just serves as a peace-of-mind facilitator for the hiring manager.

Asking a candidate for proof of success can work. How many times has a sales candidate told you they were leading their previous company in sales and exceeding margins by 40%? A good response to this would be, “Hey, I’ve heard this from candidates in the past and ended up getting burned. I’d like to believe you, but I’d be more comfortable if you provided proof of your success. Can you?” They don’t necessarily have to, but their answer to this question can be a valuable indicator of success.

Step 6: Making an Offer

There were no questions about extending an offer to a candidate. However, things can definitely go awry if you’re not thinking this step through. Making a good offer that reflects the nature of the conversation you’ve been having with your top candidate is important. Be prepared to negotiate, though, especially with top talent.

Other

Q: What’s the path of least resistance in recruiting, no matter the position?

A: I’m tempted to say, “Call NewHire!” Look, recruiting is not easy. It takes planning and execution, just like everything else in business. Easy processes with bad tools yield less than desirable results. You’ll pay for those results down the line.

Doing some work up front to define your target candidate and employee value proposition, write a killer job advertisement, and advertise it widely will get you good results when it comes time to narrow the candidate pool, interview the top 10% and finally make an offer.

The path of least resistance is still going to be difficult, but it will also be worth it. Great companies big and small have one thing in common: they put a great deal of energy into hiring well. They understand that in order to get the bus going in the right direction, you have to have the right people on that bus. That means hiring well should be hard. But it will be worth it.

A phone interview (or phone screen) is a useful first step in getting to know a candidate.  It’s a convenient way to determine which applicants that passed an initial eye test are worth bringing in for in-person interviews and which should be avoided. However, the way that you prepare and conduct a phone screen is a major factor in how useful it will ultimately end up being.

Where better to look for those best practices than from folk icons Simon & Garfunkel?  Okay, that’s a bad transition. But there is a connection between four of the duo’s biggest hits and how to conduct the perfect phone interview. Here are four key tips from the singer-songwriter team to improve your phone interviews:

Phone Interviewing Tips from Simon and Garfunkel“Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M.” – Pick a Scheduled Time (Tip: Not 3 A.M)

The first step of conducting a phone interview is scheduling. Occasionally, when I’m scheduling a time by phone, a candidate I call will ask if we can complete the phone interview right then and there. After all, you have them on the phone and it may be convenient for both of you to just get it out of the way.  I almost always turn these offers down though, because I find scheduling a time later to talk is better for a few reasons.

First, by giving candidates time to prepare and look over the position they applied for again, phone screens tend to be more organized, professional, and productive. Second, by actually having an appointment and setting a time to speak, you’re making sure that the candidate has the ability to follow-up on their commitments.

“Mrs. Robinson” – Plan Your Phone Interview Questions and Have Them Ready

We’d like to know
A little bit about you
For our files

Yes, I’m cherry-picking this lyric a bit, but it fits! Defining what you want to know from a candidate before the interview is important.  By either writing down or typing some questions you want to ask during the interview, the phone screen will go much more smoothly.  And while it’s OK and even a good idea to break script and ask follow-up questions, having questions in front of you will help make sure you get to everything you wanted to. It’s also a great way to make sure you take notes on a candidate’s answers.

Interviewing Tips

“The Sound of Silence” – Don’t be Afraid of Silence

In conversation, extended periods of silence can be awkward and uncomfortable.  During phone interviews, however, silence can be a valuable tool in prompting the candidate to reveal aspects of themselves.  It’s sometimes difficult for phone interviewers to let a question sit and breathe. That’s particularly true if it is a difficult question. It’s natural to want to give someone an easy out by asking another question or skipping over the question. However, I would recommend letting the silence linger for a moment, partially because it allows the candidate to formulate an answer and partially because candidates are afraid of silence, and by not letting them off the hook, you can gain some interesting insight when the candidate is forced to answer. That insight is what we’re looking for when we decide to do phone interviews in the first place. We want to get to know them.

“Bridge over Troubled Water” – Ask Revealing Behavior Questions in a Phone Interview

Candidates can’t get a job because of a phone screen, but they certainly can lose out on one. By asking questions that get after candidates’ work behaviors and employment history, you can gain a better understanding of the type of employee they are potentially going to be.  To use an analogy, some people tend to be a like a calm, tranquil lake – easy to get along with and relaxed. Other candidate personalities are closer to choppy rapids – they can be abrasive and can draw conflict and arguments. A question such as “tell me about a conflict you’ve had in the past and how you worked to resolve it” will allow you to start to assess what type of candidate you’re speaking with.

Additionally, asking questions about a candidate’s work history and why they left certain positions can also be enlightening. Badmouthing previous employers can be a bad sign, particularly if it is a trend. If a candidate had a poor employer, it’s unfortunate. If they’ve had 3 or 4 bad employers, there’s a common denominator there: the candidate.

 

By integrating these four tips into how you perform phone interviews, you’ll see an improvement in the helpfulness of the call and the information received.

Time Management“I don’t mind doing interviews. I don’t mind answering thoughtful questions. But, I’m not thrilled about answering questions like, ‘If you were being mugged, and you had a lightsaber in one pocket, and a whip in the other, which would you use?’ ” – Harrison Ford

Though Harrison Ford wasn’t referring to job interview questions, but rather questions he receives from entertainment reporters, the sentiment is still the same. The finite time that you have with a candidate during a job interview is extremely valuable. It is vital to make sure that time is spent wisely. Any time that you are able to spend with the person who could potentially fill your organizational need is an opportunity to learn valuable insight.

In addition, in the current employment climate candidates are not as plentiful. They will be scrutinizing your job interview strategy as much as you will be scrutinizing their answers. Below are some tips to steer your job interview in the optimal direction.

Will the person in the job interview meet your need?

There are a variety of ways to ascertain this information. You will never know for sure until that person is working in the role, but you can utilize the job interview process to develop an excellent guess. Is it a position where they have to have excellent Microsoft Office skills for instance? If so, have them create a spreadsheet in your office or dictate information that you need them to capture it in a Word document. Need an excellent Outside Sales person? Take them on an appointment with you, and see how they interact with the clients. There are a multitude of things to do in order to see first hand if they can produce the kind of work that you want in your organization. Some of these things can’t be seen in a traditional job interview.

Can you afford to work together?

It is a candidates’ market now. And candidates are quick to negotiate or even turn down an offer that does not meet their financial needs. Though the topic of money and benefits is traditionally found to be uncomfortable or inappropriate in the beginning of the job interview process, getting the compensation out in the open early can save an immense amount of time for both parties. You may have someone who is the right skill fit but is expecting twice as much as you are offering. It is key to be on the same page regarding deal breakers such as this, in order to move on quickly to those that are more aligned for the position.

Will it be a mutual culture fit?

A key issue to determine probability for a long term relationship is whether or not the company embraces the new employee and whether or not the employee will embrace them. A way to uncover that is to ask how the candidate enjoys spending their leisure time, and allow them to ask you questions as well. Have some additional staff interview your candidate, or invite them to a staff meeting so they can get a clear picture as to how your business operates.

These are a few ways to think about conducting your job interviews to get the information that you really need to make a successful hire. What are other things that you think are important to understand during the interview process?

You have your foot in the door with a great company and have scheduled an interview. You want to make a great impression, but as you look through your wardrobe, one question remains: “What do I wear?”

Now, before you run out and purchase an entirely new wardrobe just for the interview (Admit it. You were considering it). It’s important to take a moment to consider a few key points. Below are some great strategies on how to dress for an interview and land your dream job.

First, think about where you’re interviewing. How to dress for an interview is often defined by company culture. There is a general rule of thumb that dictates, when on an interview, your attire should be a level up from the company’s general dress code. For example, an interview with a casual startup warrants, at minimum, business casual clothing. Likewise, for an interview at a company with a business casual dress code, you should wear business professional attire. If you don’t know your interviewer’s dress code, take this as a perfect opportunity to research or inquire about it! Taking the initiative to ask a prospective employer questions will not negatively impact your job search.

How To Dress For an Interview

With that being said, what is “business casual” exactly? Think khaki pants, dresses, slacks and skirts.  Polo shirts, cotton shirts, and sweaters are all considered acceptable business casual tops with ties generally deemed as optional. Conversely, professional attire tends to take the form of a crisp, tailored suit for men and women alike.

Once you have an idea of how fancy you need to dress, now is the time to begin searching through your closet. It’s best practice to keep your staple interview pieces neutral. Navy blue and gray are great go-to colors when it comes to blazers, suits and skirts. A classic white shirt or blouse is always a safe bet. However, if you’re looking to make more of an impact, colored tops are viable options as long as they coordinate well and don’t clash with the rest of your outfit.

When it comes to footwear, leather shoes are preferable for men, whereas simple heels are a solid option for women. Regardless of your interview garb, the goal is to have the focus on YOU, and not your clothes. Hair should be neat and trim; with simple accessorizing.

Experts agree that the best approach is to stay with a more modern style. So, if your interview staples look more Austin Powers and less James Bond, it might be time to go shopping!

Last, but certainly not least, if you’re bringing an old stand-by out of the closet, remember to do some mirror tests (both standing and sitting) before heading out the door.  This ensures that everything is perfectly in place prior to going into the interview.

Remember to keep these tips in mind for your next interview, and take the worry out of your wardrobe choices!