Hiring your first employee is a big step, and the interview can play a critical role in ensuring you find the best person for the job. A quality interview feels like a conversation between two people, but it’s actually a lot more. To ensure you make the most of this time, check out this list of things you should do before you start hiring employees or even interviewing.
Steps to Learning About Interviewing Candidates
- Narrow in on the Best Candidates
- Prepare Your Interview Questions
- Know Your Candidates
- Be Ready to Answer Questions
- Coordinate With Other Interviewers
- Plan Your Time and Agenda
- Sharpen Your Selling Skills
- Get Ready for the Paperwork
1. Narrow in on the Best Candidates
Ideally, you should promote your job opportunity on sites that are searched by the best candidates in your field, or you should work with headhunters who are knowledgeable about your industry. As you start receiving resumes, you should carefully review them. Then, by the time you’re ready to interview, you can invite in the best candidates.
2. Prepare Your Interview Questions
Never go into an interview blind. Instead take some time to prepare the questions you want to ask during the interview. The right questions help you learn as much as possible about potential candidates and how they are likely to fit into your corporate culture. Typically, you need questions that fall into the following categories:
- Icebreakers – Prepare a few questions to build rapport and put everyone at ease at the beginning of the interview. You can play with imaginative questions such as the following: If you had a talk show, you would be your first three guests? If you had to go the same place for a vacation every year, where would you choose? What would you do if you weren’t in this industry? Or, you can stick with questions about interests: What books have you read lately? What is your favorite film? To be as natural as possible, choose personally interesting ice breakers that you would be willing to answer as well.
- Traditional Questions – Most interviewees expect to hear these questions so they can feel hackneyed, but they really help you hone in on specific aspects of the job candidate’s personality and work ethic. These questions include the following: What is your greatest strength? Tell me about a mistake you made at work and how you dealt with it. How do you describe your learning style?
- Situational Questions – To get a sense of how quickly candidates think on their feet, ask a few situational questions. Develop a scenario that is likely to happen in your business and ask how they would respond.
- Questions to Assess Cultural Fit – You want to make sure potential candidates are going to fit in so try to develop questions about what motivates them, how they like to communicate, and why they want to work for you.
3. Know Your Candidates
Don’t waste your time interviewing people who aren’t a good fit. Devote enough time to the screening process so that you know the person in front of you is likely to be a good candidate for your position. But also, get to know them by reviewing their resume and reaching out to references. If you take those steps, you don’t have to worry about wasting time asking questions that are already covered in the application materials.
Make a list of unique questions for every job candidate. Maybe you want to know more about what they did at a certain job. Possibly you have concerns about gaps in employment. Or, you may want to ask a variety of other unique questions.
4. Be Ready to Answer Questions
Truly engaged job candidates don’t just let you ask the questions. They also ask questions about your business and the job. Once you finish asking questions, turn the tables and ask the job candidate if they have any questions.
If they don’t have any questions, that is a sign that they didn’t prepare well for the interview, and you should keep that in mind as you make your final choice. On the other hand, if they have a lot of interesting questions, that can give you perspective on how they are going to be as a worker.
5. Coordinate With Other Interviewers
If you are interviewing the candidate with a group of people, coordinate your approach before the interview. Have everyone write down the questions they plan to ask, or assign each member of the team an area to focus. To ensure everything goes smoothly, you may even want to have a few practice sessions Either bring in a friend or colleague, or have the interviewers rotate playing the role of job candidate.
6. Plan Your Time and Agenda
Time is precious in the business world, and if you’re interviewing multiple candidates, you want to use your time wisely. Sketch out an itinerary for the interview, and estimate how long it should take to cover each section of questions. Leave in a bit of flexibility to accommodate long answers or extra questions from the candidate, but while interviewing try to stay on pace as much as possible.
7. Sharpen Your Selling Skills
In a competitive market, you aren’t just hiring somebody. You’re selling your company to the best and brightest candidates. Make sure you’re ready to explain why a position with your company offers value to prospective candidates. To that end, you may also want details on salary and benefits packages. This is especially important if you know candidates are being recruited by multiple companies.
8. Get Ready for the Paperwork
In addition to dealing with the soft skills required for a successful interview, you should also prepare for the legal aspects of hiring someone. Then, when you make a choice, everything you need to finalize the deal on paper is ready. To deal with payroll taxes, you need an Employer Identification Number (EIN). You can obtain an EIN Number online here. You also need copies of W-4 forms to calculate how much income tax to withhold from your employees paychecks, and unless you want to take care of everything on paper, you may want to invest in payroll software or find a company to handle payroll for you.
Preparing for your interviewing puts you in the perfect position to enjoy a smooth and easy transition to becoming a boss. Once you feel the right spark with a potential candidate, you can offer them the job, shake hands, and get started on your journey together.
If you’re a relatively new entrepreneur, you may have never interviewed someone before. Take some time to practice. Find a friend, a partner, or a family member who is willing to be your interview subject, and practice asking and answering questions with them.
Don’t have anyone to help you practice? Then, you may want to look for a mentoring opportunity. There are non-profit professional organizations in many communities that match new and seasoned entrepreneurs so they can learn from each other. In addition to giving you pointers on the interview process, a mentor can help with other aspects of your business as well.