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The Ultimate Guide to Successful Recruiting – The Interview

May 5, 2020 | by Justin Palicki | Agency Life, How To’s, Jobs

It seems so simple.  Establish a need for a position. Write out what you’re looking for in a candidate, and people will come calling in droves.

Well, turns out that’s not exactly how it works.

Recruiting is hard. Writing, refining, interviewing and even the DECISION process, all take precious (and otherwise billable) time away from you and your staff. That’s why it’s vital you put careful thought and effort into this so you can find the strongest teammates out there.

As mentioned in my article, Hiring With Purpose, the cost of a poor performing hire can be astronomical—enough to put a small business on its heels. So, let’s talk about the ins and outs of recruiting, and how to get from Point A…to Point Unicorn.

How do we get there?

Top NFL quarterback Russell Wilson said, “The separation is in the preparation,” and it’s no different in the hiring process, so, it’s imperative you spend time on this part. These are the critical tools and processes used in hiring, that you should refine before you head down this road.

Preparation starts with the most fundamental of HR tools: the Job Description. This is the roadmap, where you describe what the job is and what’s needed to perform it. This should provide—and guide—what you’re looking for in interviews. It should contain clear, accurate depictions of responsibilities and expectations, and provide a basis for compensation, performance management, succession planning, etc.

From there you create your Job Post, which is basically your marketing tool for attracting candidates. It is written straight from the job description but simplified, for people to read on job boards or LinkedIn.

Once those resumes start “pouring in,” move on to applicant selection, by choosing candidates who match the job posting requirements. If they don’t match your requirements, don’t settle and try to make a square peg fit into a round hole. Remember, this is an investment in the business and your team.

The next few steps include conducting your interviews, deciding on and selecting your candidate, performing reference checks (don’t skip this), extending the offer and finally, scheduling onboarding—or the process of getting people integrated into the day to day.

But for the purpose of this article, I want to focus on how to get the most out of interviewing and making this process work for you. Whether it’s initial phone screening, 1 on 1s, or team panel interviews, this is how you can ensure you land a gem.

The Interview

Go into this with your game plan. Be ready to ask questions as a means for getting the answers you are looking for.

Do they have relevant experience, skills and characteristics? Listen closely for the answers—you have two ears and one mouth, so listen twice as much as you speak. Don’t play games or try to trick people with questions out of left field to get a read on their character, like what animal would you be and why? It doesn’t really get you anywhere and it’s not a fair assessment of a candidate.

And remember, the interview is an investment in your organization as a whole. We all want to win this. When in doubt, refer to the keys for success.

The 6 Keys to Interviewing Success

  • Ask questions to which you already know the answers
  • Don’t lead the candidate to those answers
  • Listen to the answers with intent
  • Concern yourself with “EQ” as much as you are with “IQ”
  • Be consistent and stay the course
  • Listen more than you talk (are you sensing a theme here?)


Making the Interview Work for You

I mentioned having a game plan earlier and it’s vital to sort this stuff out in advance, particularly if you’re conducting panel interviews with teams.

Be consistent from question to question, and from interview to interview. Pay attention to the wording and order of questions, and of course, listen more than you talk (again with this!).

Compare the answers you get to the answers you want, and nothing else. You know what you’re looking for, so why deviate?

Establish and maintain logistical control of the interview and set the room up in advance. Consider comfort level, temperature and yes, even seating arrangements. #PowerMove

Be agenda-driven, take notes, and most of all, be prepared. The last thing you want is to appear flustered or disinterested to a potential candidate in the Social Media age.

Don’t forget you are representing your brand and a negative Glassdoor review of your company can shoot you in the foot.

Post-Game Wrap Up

After all is said and done, it’s time to make a decision. Gather the major players who were involved, to discuss key take-aways or learnings, strength of skill set, team dynamic (including how they’ll work cross-departmentally) and what I consider most important: Red Flags!! This is the hardest thing to decipher from your limited interaction, but keying in on wrong answers, rambling or even annoyed candidates can be the sharpest arrow in your quiver. And sometimes the x-factor between hiring a stud and hiring a dud.

You’ve found your unicorn and you’re extending the offer. Nice.

I can’t promise you’ll get it right every time, but hiring is like a muscle that gets stronger with work. Now, you have a step-by-step guide to help you find those hidden gems to join your team, and hopefully, crush the competition in the war on talent.

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