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death by interview

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  • 1. Death by InterviewIn January, the ADP National Employment Report reported that private sector employmentincreased by 215,000 jobs between November and December 2012, including the additionof 14,000 jobs in the financial sector. With so many jobs being added, chances are you’researching for someone to fill a spot on your team. If that’s the case, then you already knowthis: hiring the right person is hard.According to a recent survey by Right Management, proper hiring creates a good team.Turnover has financial costs, but also has indirect costs, such as lost productivity that leadsto morale problems. The number one thing that creates team problems is the rush to hire areplacement.Therefore, managers are constantly searching for the secret to hiring the right employees.They want a “killer question” that will reveal the true ability of the candidate during theinterview. They use quirky problems or puzzles they think will identify the creative andenthusiastic candidates. They spend thousands of dollars on multiple interviews thinkingthat surely, somewhere during the sixth interview, the candidate’s actual personality willbe divulged, if only inadvertently.The problem with this approach is that it cannot provide accurate information for a coupleof reasons. First, the interviewer overestimates his or her ability to determine a candidate’sskill set based on a resume and interviews. Second, few companies identify in advance thefactors they want to evaluate and measure in the interview.The desire to get good information from interviews is understandable since most managershave made at least one expensive hiring mistake that cost thousands of dollars to fix andled to bad outcomes for the organization. And because managers in virtually everyorganization use interviews to help make hiring decisions, it makes sense to explore thechallenges and benefits of the interview. The following are tips on how to demystify thehiring process and make the best hire for your team.Deconstructing the InterviewLike other hiring decision tools such as resume reviews, paper-and-pencil exams, writingsamples, and personality assessments, the interview is considered a test. Therefore, designinterviews carefully and use them consistently with candidates. Interviews come in manyshapes and sizes: one-to-one, panel interviews, multiple interviews, candidatepresentations, or a combination.There are certain factors that make interviewing difficult.
  • 2. First, you need to identify the specific characteristics to evaluate in an interview; thesecould include communication style, technical skills, personal presentation and industryknowledge. You should be able to articulate what a “good interview response” will looklike.Second, the environment in which the interview is conducted, as well as the interviewprocess itself can affect the interviewer, the candidate, and the outcome of the interview.You can subtly set the tone for the interview based on where you choose to hold it. Whilethe standard conference room might be a strong initial consideration, reflect on the valuesyou want brought to the job. If you are looking for a more casual, personable candidate youmight consider holding the interview in a less formal location. Also, consider that theinterviewer is a component of the environment. Studies show that similarities between acandidate and an interviewer can alter the exchange significantly. Regardless of what youchoose, it is important to standardize the environment for all candidates to ensurereasonably accurate comparisons.There is no silver bullet, no killer question, and no trick or puzzle that will provide a look atthe “real” person. However, there are some proven steps that you can take to improve datagathered from an interview.Step One: Interview StructureBegin by cleaning up the structure of the interview itself. The problem is that too manymanagers conduct unstructured interviews even when their organizations have a formallyadopted process of structured, behavioral interviewing. Unstructured interviews lead todiscrepancies when attempting to compare the interview of one candidate with others orwith successful past hires.Step Two: MetricsNext, decide what metrics will be used to evaluate each candidate. The metrics will changebased on the job. A programmer will obviously face criteria different than a copywriter.The point is to ensure that applicants applying for a specific job are measured using thesame constructs. It is helpful to conduct some analysis to determine precisely what theupdated description of a particular job will be. Companies that put protocols in place forhiring a web developer in 2003 will almost certainly get an inaccurate view into acandidate’s viability if those same protocols are used today.Step Three: Equip the InterviewerOnce you have determined what skills to evaluate, train the people who will be involved inthe interviewing and doing the evaluating. Whether you rely on an individual interviewer
  • 3. or a panel, training is needed in effective interview techniques and, more important,instructions on sticking to the constructs you identified and put in place.The goal is objective assessment of each candidate; and while there will always be anelement of subjectivity, it must be constrained to fit the criteria that best matches thecompany’s hiring goals. While it may be the case that an interviewer got a good feeling froma candidate following an off-topic conversation, it will be impossible to analyze thoseresults. Prepare your interviewer or interview panel to be both personable and precise.Step Four: Set a ScheduleNext, consider the amount of time necessary to successfully complete the hiring “project.”While it is true that in most companies hiring is an ongoing process without a distinct end,people’s time does have a distinct value. If you find that the amount of time spent on thehiring process is excessive relative to the value delivered, then it is time to streamline theprocess. Tracking time to this task will give you insight into exactly which activitiesemployees are engaging in so that you can choose which are extraneous and costly.Step Five: Effective DocumentationFinally, make sure that your documentation systems are sufficient and up to date. There isnothing more frustrating than attempting to interpret hastily scrawled information on asticky note. Given the proliferation of mobile devices, there is no reason to skimp oninterview note taking. This may mean having one member of your interview panel (or aseparate employee) responsible for taking specific notes during an interview. If bothparties are comfortable, it might also be worthwhile to record the interview so responsescan be shared with 100 percent accuracy later on. Remember, the notes should reflect thejudgment criteria established for the job role.While an entirely objective approach to hiring is impossible to achieve, you can structurethe interview so that all candidates are interviewed in a consistent and thoughtful way.Moving away from “gut instinct” hiring and toward a more measurable and scientificapproach will yield positive results for your company.Reference Link: http://businessedge.michcpa.org/issue/article.aspx?i=v10n3&a=622&s=MI

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