Recruitment and Retention

Successful Interview Strategies

Is there a right and a wrong way to manage a recruitment interview? What questions should you, as a recruiter, ask a potential candidate to better help you select the ‘right person for the position’? How do you maintain control of the interview? How do you determine each candidate’s problem-solving ability? What personal questions are permissible today? These questions are very common. Recruiting is not an exact science. However, there are some basic guidelines that can help “smooth the process.”

Here are six suggestions for conducting a successful recruitment interview:

  1. Create a “safe environment.” The strategy is to verbally outline your agenda for the interview. Let the candidate know that you are going ask questions, find out what his/her expectations are, provide him/her with information about your company, the position, your training program, etc. From there, you will then determine if the person is a good fit for the position. If so, you will set up a second interview to discuss specifics about compensation, expectations and address final questions with regard to the position. Interviewers should leave at least 18 inches of physical space between themselves and the person being interviewed. The theory is, by doing so, you will diffuse tension, increase the candidate comfort level and help him/her open up to you.Another question that I am often asked is: Should I sit across the desk when interviewing or at a round table next to the candidate. It is a matter of personal preference, but I prefer sitting across from the candidate. It allows you to control the interview more effectively.
  2. Ask specific questions to determine each candidate’s potential as well as problem solving ability. For instance, you might ask, “Tell me about a difficult situation that you have been faced with and how you handled it.” Your aim should be to use hypothetical questions to determine their “D.N.A.” D.N.A. stands for: Why they DESIRE this position; what their NEEDS are; and how much ABILITY they have to perform the job needed. Why did they enjoy about their last position and how did they handle challenges in that position. Be aware of potentially discriminatory areas. For instance, it is not appropriate to ask how a person’s family feels about him/her taking the position, the year that they were born, or if they have someone that can financially help them out if needed. When you are asking questions, write down the answers he/she gives. It is easy to forget which candidate said what. Here are a few tips to remember when asking questions:
    1. Use the candidate’s name often
    2. Make eye contact, listen and nod
    3. Hold your calls, or you may risk offending the candidate
    4. Probe for more information as the candidate becomes more comfortable
    5. Watch the persons body language to see how you are doing.
    6. Resist the urge to get sidetracked from the interview
    7. Don’t try to sell the person before the interview is complete
  3. There are two types of interviews. One is when you are recruiting several candidates and you get to decide which person is best for the job. In this interview, you will feel the person trying to make a good impression with their answers so that they will get selected for the position. For this interview, use their questions to see if you think they are a good fit for the job. But there are also interviews for various sales positions, where the recruiter is seeking to recruit a person away from a competitor. In this interview, the questions are designed to tell you about that person, what they like about their current firm, what they dislike, what their skills are, etc. In this scenario, you will use the information gathered during the questioning process to determine the best way to approach this candidate for the position. Each of these interviews will vary slightly, but in both scenarios, you should stop at the end of the questions if that person is not a good fit for the position or the firm. A good recruiter knows that there are lots of potential candidates out there and they do not feel the pressure to hire just anyone for the position.
  4. Give a visual presentation of what your company has to offer. You should use a visual presentation to describe what the company has to offer, the benefits, as well as graphs and statistics to show who you are. Visuals reinforce what you are saying, and help with retention of information. You should have information on the training that will be provided, and anything that sets your company apart and makes you unique. If you are looking to recruit someone away from another company, you need to show the value of what your company has to offer.
  5. Administer a behavior profile to determine the candidate’s personal characteristics. This is an optional aspect of the interview process. Some companies find it a useful way to reinforce the selectiveness of the interview process. I have been using a behavior profile for over 25 years. I do not use it to determine if I will hire them, but I look at it as one more tool that can help me make the right decision. There are lots of great tools/ tests that can be used. If you are going to use an assessment, you should always use it. You should also know how to explain it and use it to show them what their strengths are with regard to the position.
  6. Expectations – yours and the prospective candidate’s – and other details. In this phase, you will want to discuss compensation and clearly spell out your performance requirements and expectations. If this is a commissioned sales position, you should let them know what you expect for their first year in the position, and what you will do to support that goal. You should also let them know how many hours they need to work, commitment level, etc.
  7. Make the final decision based on what you have learned. Interviews that follow this format can take an hour or more. If you are pressed for time, you may wish to spread the interview over two separate meetings.

Remember, the most important key to a successful interview is to have the genuine desire to find out if the person you are interviewing will be the right match for your company. If you are truly interested in helping them make a good decision as well, you will not only have a better hire, but the retention of that person on the job will increase dramatically. It is quite expensive in today’s market to replace employees or sales people. If they enjoy the position and respect the company that they are working for, the consumer will be happier as well. That spells greater profits for you. .

In today’s competitive market, recruiting is a vital skill needed to succeed and prosper for any business.


Article courtesy of Judy LaDeur International

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