How to Conduct a Job Interview

Help With Hiring Employees

A women conducts a job interview
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As you climb the corporate ladder, your responsibilities will increase. Not only will you take on more difficult tasks, as a manager you will likely have to supervise other employees. You may eventually be responsible for hiring new ones. Many hiring managers are unprepared for this when they are first starting out. They typically don't have formal training in doing this as opposed to human resources specialists who are well versed in hiring practices.

If you are going to be responsible for assessing job candidates, you must know how to conduct a job interview.

Why Is the Interview So Important?

The human resources department is responsible for screening candidates to verify the information on their resumes. They usually do a preliminary interview, but often it is the manager of the department in which the new employee will work who is called upon to do a more extensive one.

Since you will be working closely with him, you have a vested interest in making sure you hire the best candidate you possibly can. Your decision will also reflect greatly on your ability as a manager, something those above you in the corporate hierarchy will certainly take notice of. You want to hire someone who will not only interact well with you, but will also get along well with your boss, the other employees you supervise and, of course, your clients and customers.

When you conduct a job interview, you will have several goals in mind:

  • You want to be confident that your new hire has the skills to do her job well. While human resources will try to verify the information on his resume, you know your department's needs best. You will have to make sure the person you choose can do what is expected of her.
  • When a new person joins a department, its dynamic changes. Since this is inevitable, you want to do everything possible to make sure it is a positive change. A big part of any job interview is learning about the job candidate's personality and temperament in order to make sure he will fit in and work well with everyone else.
  • Finally, you need to make sure you "click" with your new employee. You aren't looking for a new friend, but you are seeking someone with whom you will have a good working relationship.

What Questions Should You (and Should You Not) Ask?

Before you begin interviewing candidates, you should prepare questions to ask them. Be aware of the questions you should never ask on a job interview. This includes those that are considered illegal questions because the answers could lead you to make hiring decisions that violate employment discrimination laws. Check with your HR department to learn more about this. 

Here are some general examples of good job interview questions. You should develop a list of more specific ones that are relevant to the content of each person's resume.

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • What did you like best and least about working for your prior employee?
  • Tell me about your manager. What was it like to work for him or her?
  • If we hire you, what do you hope to accomplish here?
  • Tell me what you know about our company.
  • What would you do if you disagreed with me or a coworker?
  • Have you ever had a boss you didn't like? What happened?

You should pay careful attention to the answers you get. This is where good listening skills, and most importantly, excellent interpersonal skills, come in. Realize it isn't always the answers to the questions that are most important. What is often most telling is how the candidate reacts to your questions and what he doesn't say.

What Should You Do on the Job Interview?

How you act on the interview is as important as how the interviewee does. First of all, treat job candidates with respect—just as you would like to be treated if the tables were turned.

It's very important to be polite and considerate. Keeping the candidate waiting, or taking phone calls in the middle of an interview, reflects poorly on you and your company. This person you are interviewing may some day work for you, or, in this fast moving world, you may someday work for him or her.

Try to establish a good rapport with each individual. It will help you get more honest answers. Again, your interpersonal skills will come in very handy!

Remember to be yourself and be truthful. That means don't give the candidate a false impression about what you are like, what the company is like or what the job will be like. Don't forget that the interview is as much about a potential employee deciding if the job is right for him as it is about you deciding if the candidate is right for it. Give her all the information she needs to decide whether to accept a job offer. If it isn't a good match, from either party's perspective, it's best to find out now. 

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