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Successful Techniques for Interviewing Others

By Charles Hopkins Published 04/21/2006 | Jobs and Careers
When interviewing others the goal is to hire the right people for the job and to reduce turnover. Here are some pointers:

1) Establish and maintain control.

Your first objective should be to establish control of your interview. The following introduction has proven to be very effective:

"My purpose here today is to find out about you. If I determine there is potentially a good fit and you're the type of person I feel I could work with I'll invite you back for a second interview. We certainly don't make hiring decisions based on just one interview. What I'm going to do is ask you a series of qualifying questions."

This sets the tone for the interview and it lets the candidate know you are a serious company who takes personnel decisions very seriously. If at any point during the interview the candidate tries to take back your control by asking their own questions, simply use the following statement:

"I can understand you want to know more about the position, however my purpose here today is..."

Repeat the control statement ending with this addition:

"Let's first try to get through these qualifying questions."

2) Allow the candidate to sell themselves to you.

Anyone applying for any position should have enough common sense to have rehearsed their personal sales pitch. They are probably eager to speak about themself. Ideally you would want to hear a brief introduction, some key accomplishments, strengths as an employee and how they would relate to the position is question.

Occasionally you'll get a candidate who's just not very good at selling themself and you may have to draw information out by asking questions:

"What makes you special or different from other candidates?"
"What can you bring to this company that no one else can?"
"What are your strengths as an employee?"

3) Question the resume.

All too often people use catch phrases or words such as, self motivated, goal oriented, hard working, dedicated, and reliable. Some people actually think that using these words will get them a position. You should question each and every adjective a candidate places on their resume in the following manner:

"You state on your resume that you're self motivated. Can you give me an example of how you do this?"

"You claim to be goal oriented, in your opinion, what's the best way to set and achieve goals?"

The candidate should have no trouble answering these questions. If not, perhaps they're just proficient in resume writing.

Another key area to ask about is their top strength or weakness. This is a great opportunity to learn about this person and their suitability for the career in question. Be very concerned with a candidate who feels they have no weaknesses.

Asking tough questions builds credibility in the mind of the candidate and fully backs up your control statement.

4) Handling unusual or awkward situations.

This happens from time to time. You ask a question such as,

"Can you tell me about yourself?"

Ten minutes later the candidate still hasn't finished telling you about their grade school experiences.

In this situation ask more specific questions:

"Could you give me 5 specific adjectives that best describe you?"

"In 200 words or less could you tell me why I should consider you for this position?"

If you say, "In 200 words or less,..." often the candidate will get the message, if not it's very possible this person would also take up too much of your time during the training process, or perhaps this person will take up other employees time as well, reducing company productivity.

5) Little or no eye contact.

This could mean a few different things. The candidate is nervous. You could try putting them at ease by beginning the interview with some idle conversation to break the proverbial ice. If the lack of eye contact continues throughout the interview you may begin to wonder if maybe they're hiding something.

Possibly this person just has no self confidence at all. Someone like this is probably not a good candidate for a sales position.

6) The initial handshake.

This should be firm and full of confidence without crushing the bones in your hand. There's nothing worse than a limp handshake, or dropping to your knees in agony. The candidate should temper their handshake somewhere in the middle to let you know they're confident without proving they could strangle the blood from your hand.

7) Lack of enthusiasm.

If this person is not excited to be interviewing for your company do you really think they will suddenly become excited every day when coming to work?

In conclusion if you know this person is not the type of person you're looking for, end the interview as quickly as possible. There's no time limit and your time is valuable, so give it to the right people.