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Let's Interview Everyone! Best Practices For the Interview Process

Bob, Director of Human Resources, walked into Mikela's office a little after 3pm. "Well, Mikela," he said, "How are you ...

Bob, Director of Human Resources, walked into Mikela's office a little after 3pm. "Well, Mikela," he said, "How are you feeling about the slate of candidates we've assembled for the open manager position?"
Mikela turned away from the computer screen she'd been staring at. Clearly, her mind was still on her analytics, but she dragged her attention to Bob and the question he'd posed.
"Hi Bob," she said. "I really appreciate all the work you've done to compile these resumes." She glanced guiltily at a folder on the corner of her desk. "But I haven't had time to do more than glance at them."
"I certainly understand, Mikela," said Bob, "You have so much responsibility for the new brand launch. I'll do whatever I can to help. I'm happy to schedule interviews for you if you let me know which candidates you'd like to bring in and who from your department you'd like them to meet."
Mikela laughed. "To the extent that we can, I'd like the candidates to meet all the managers in the department. We've had too much turnover already and I don't want more distraction on this project. I want to know we'll all work well together. I know that won't be easy, because we're all so busy here. But that's the best way I know to be sure the new person will be welcome. As for who to bring in, I guess we should bring them all in, right? They all seem to have the key qualifications."
"But Mikela," Bob objected, "you have eight managers and there are 12 candidates! That's a coordination nightmare, not to mention the time you're asking your staff to devote to this. I really think we should narrow it down a bit."
"I wish I knew how," said Mikela, the frustration in her voice obvious. "But I can't tell enough just from reading a resume. And if I don't ask my team to be part of the process, how will I know if we've gotten the right person?"
Bob and Mikela talked for another few minutes. It was clear to Bob that Mikela's plan was time-consuming and expensive, and he was concerned that even going through the process her way was no guarantee that Mikela would end up with the "right" candidate.
Hiring managers and Human Resource departments struggle to find the appropriate balance in designing the hiring process. Like Mikela, one extreme is to invite anyone and everyone to come in for an interview with everyone in the department. Because "hiring process" is not a line item, the costs are not easily recognized or reigned in. On the other end of the spectrum, managers take a rather nonchalant view of bringing in new employees, skimming a few resumes immediately before the interview and hiring based entirely on one or two interviews. Experience has shown that under-resourcing is just as dangerous as devoting infinite resources to the hiring process.

What are the best practices to find your next hire?
1. Develop a well-crafted job description. Most managers and business owners would never start a major project without a clear outline and understanding of the project requirements. Yet these same people are often content to work with a vague or "hand-me-down" job description for a position they want to fill. The "as long as I have something on paper to make HR happy" approach to job descriptions may be expedient in the short term, but will almost always cause regrets down the road. Taking the time to determine the needs of the position, the gaps in the department, the problem solving style required, and the company culture will go far in helping companies find the right candidate for the position.

2. Evaluate resumes against a concrete set of criteria. Based on the job description, list out the criteria you have for successful candidates. This may include specific job skills, kinds of managerial or industry experience, budgetary or decision making authority, education, presentation of resume (spelling, grammar, logic flow), writing skills, or any number of other items that can be gleaned from a resume. Also make a note of any items you wish to ask about for further clarification (e.g., gaps in work experience, unclear job descriptions, etc).

3. Use appropriate screening processes to narrow down the field of candidates. Yes, pre-employment testing is generally legal as long as certain guidelines are followed. And the right kind of testing can help objectively identify candidates that will succeed in the position. Many companies have stopped using pre-employment testing because of legal concerns, but this "throwing the baby out with the bath water" approach is unnecessary and allows much avoidable risk to remain in the system.

4. Check references thoroughly. Most of the time, reference checks turn up exactly what you expect: glowing praise and assurances that the candidate in question is undeniably the best possible person to consider for the job in question. Or you merely learn that the candidate did in fact work for the employer listed on his/her resume. As long you're not talking to the Human Resources Department (whose employees are limited by policy), however, you can often find out more about the candidate to help you make a hiring decision, draft follow up interview questions, or manage the person successfully if you do bring them on. Sometimes of course, you will find out things you never expected to learn. Since most candidates (correctly) assume that most employers don't bother to check references, they don't worry too much about who they list as a contact. I know a wonderful story about a store owner who discovered during a reference check that a candidate had embezzled from a previous employer. Needless to say, the store owner was no longer
interested in the candidate-but the previous employer was delighted to have the location of the thief!

5. Craft interview questions based on job requirements, company/department culture, resume and reference checks. Be clear about how each question will help you determine whether the candidate should become part of your team. After all, the goal of the interview is to decide whether the candidate should continue in the hiring process. Be sure to re-read the resume (and your interview guide) prior to the interview so you are well prepared.

6. Take time to meet with the candidate. There are few things more frustrating to job candidates or more of a waste of time for managers than having an interview in which the interviewer is unprepared, rushed, or obviously thinking about the problem du jour. Human capital is the most important resource a company has. Interviewers need to clear the calendar, hold all calls, and devote their full time and attention to the interview.

Article Source: EzineArticles.com/

TELL ME ABOUT YOURSELF?

This is one of the first questions you are likely to be asked. Be prepared to talk about yourself, and why you're an excellent fit for the job. Try to answer questions about yourself without giving out too much, or too little, personal information. You can start by sharing some of your personal interests and experiences that don't relate directly to work, such as a favorite hobby or a brief account of where you grew up, your education, and what motivates you. You can even share some fun facts and showcase your personality to make the interview a little more interesting.

If it feels daunting to generate this information from scratch, you can rely on a simple formula to construct your answer. The ‘present-past-future’ formula is a way to share key background points while ending on a high note. Begin with a brief overview of where you are now (which could include your current job along with a reference to a personal hobby or passion), reference how you got to where you are (here you could mention education, or an important experience such as a past job, internship or volunteer experience) and then finish by touching on a goal for the future.

Bonus points if you’re able to identify how the position you’re applying for aligns with how you envision your future.

Remember to be careful about what you include in your answer – avoid potentially contentious subjects such as political or religious leanings, unless you are absolutely positive that your opinions would be well-received by your interviewer. You should also avoid talking too much about family responsibilities or hobbies that might make your interviewer wonder whether you could commit yourself 100% to the job.

No matter how you choose to respond, write out your answer in advance and then read it aloud to ensure it sounds natural. Try to keep it short and sweet, as you don’t want to come across as the type of person who endlessly drones on about themselves.

WHAT ARE YOUR GREATEST PROFESSIONAL STRENGTHS?

When answering this question, interview coach Pamela Skillings recommends being accurate (share your true strengths, not those you think the interviewer wants to hear); relevant (choose your strengths that are most targeted to this particular position); and specific (for example, instead of “people skills,” choose “persuasive communication” or “relationship building”). Then, follow up with an example of how you've demonstrated these traits in a professional setting

Tips to answer this question:

+ Grab hold of the opportunity this question gives you. This question really lets you guide the interview where you want it to go. This your chance to relate your most impressive success story, so take advantage!
+ Highlight a strength that is crucial to the position. (As I mentioned earlier)
+ Find out from your company research and from the job description what strengths the company puts a lot of stock into.
+ Don’t make claims that you can’t illustrate with a brief example or fact.
+ Don’t be overly modest but don’t claim to be Superman or Superwoman either.
+ Don’t name a strength that is irrelevant to the job at hand.

WHAT ARE YOUR WEAKNESSES?

"What are your weaknesses" is one of the most popular questions interviewers ask. It is also the most dreaded question of all. Handle it by minimizing your weakness and emphasizing your strengths. Stay away from personal qualities and concentrate on professional traits: "I am always working on improving my communication skills to be a more effective presenter. I recently joined Toastmasters, which I find very helpful."

Tips to answer this question:

+ Show that you are aware of your weakness and what you have done to overcome it.
+ Show that you are “self-aware” and that you have the ability to take steps to improve yourself.
+ Don’t you DARE answer with the cliche “I’m a perfectionist” answer or any other such answer that the hiring manager can see right through.
+ Don’t highlight a weakness that is a core competency of the job. (Know the job description “inside and out”.)
+ Don’t dodge this question.

WHY DID YOU LEAVE (OR WHY ARE YOU LEAVING) YOUR JOB?

If an interviewer asks, "Why did you leave (or why are you leaving) your job?" and you're unemployed, state your reason for leaving in a positive context: "I managed to survive two rounds of corporate downsizing, but the third round was a 20% reduction in the workforce, which included me."

If you are employed, focus on what you want in your next job: "After two years, I made the decision to look for a company that is team-focused, where I can add my experience."

Tips to answer this question:

+ If it was because you left voluntarily then reference a specific characteristic that the company you are interviewing for has that you are attracted to. One that your previous employer didn’t have.
+ If you were let go, be honest and explain the situation and own it. Explain what you learned from the experience, because the interviewer knows you’re human, you make mistakes, and just wants to see that you were able to do something about it
+ Words like “downsizing” and “budget cuts” and “bad economy” are good defenses if they are true and are the reasons for departure from the job.
+ Don’t bash your last company or boss or anything along those lines.
+ Don’t say, “It’s time for a career switch and I’d like to try my hand at the job you are offering” or “I’m tired of doing the same old thing.” Give a pointed, Positive reason for why you want to head off in a new direction.
+ Don’t lie if you were fired.

WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST PROFESSIONAL ACHIEVEMENT?

Nothing says “hire me” better than a track record of achieving amazing results in past jobs, so don't be shy when answering this interview question! A great way to do so is by using the S-T-A-R method: Set up the situation and the task that you were required to complete to provide the interviewer with background context (e.g., “In my last job as a junior analyst, it was my role to manage the invoicing process”), but spend the bulk of your time describing what you actually did (the action) and what you achieved (the result). For example, “In one month, I streamlined the process, which saved my group 10 man-hours each month and reduced errors on invoices by 25%.”

Tips to answer this question:

+ Talk about an accomplishment that exhibits how you will be a perfect fit for the company and for the position you’re interviewing for.
+ Try and show some genuine passion when you’re talking about your accomplishment.
+ Don’t fall into the trap of thinking your accomplishment is “too small”. The fact is, relating a small accomplishment that is inline with “what the company values” can be more powerful than an unrelated accomplishment. (Remember: “It’s not about you, It’s about them.”)

WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF IN FIVE YEARS?

If asked this question, be honest and specific about your future goals, but consider this: A hiring manager wants to know a) if you've set realistic expectations for your career, b) if you have ambition (a.k.a., this interview isn't the first time you're considering the question), and c) if the position aligns with your goals and growth. Your best bet is to think realistically about where this position could take you and answer along those lines. And if the position isn’t necessarily a one-way ticket to your aspirations? It’s OK to say that you’re not quite sure what the future holds, but that you see this experience playing an important role in helping you make that decision.

Tips to answer this question:

+ Demonstrate when you answer the question your level of commitment to the position they are interviewing you for.
+ After you have demonstrated your commitment to the role you are interviewing for, outline a realistic growth strategy that is directly tied to the role you’re in and the needs and values of the company.
+ Stress your interest in a long-term career at the company.
+ Don’t exhibit ambition to the point of seeming like this particular job is just a “brief stepping stone” for you. You need to show commitment.
+ Don’t say you want to be CEO of the company in 5 years.
+ Don’t say “Actually I want to be in YOUR seat within the next 5 years.” to the hiring manager.

WHY SHOULD WE HIRE YOU?

Answer "Why should we hire you?" by summarizing your experiences: "With five years' experience working in the financial industry and my proven record of saving the company money, I could make a big difference in your company. I'm confident I would be a great addition to your team."

Tips to answer this question:

+ Show the hiring manager that you are uniquely suited to filling this position. Be the candidate that solves their “problems“.
+ Show you know some significant details about the company and their general practices because you have researched the firm and are prepared.
+ Tell a “success story” that highlights how you have the ‘qualities’ needed to fill their specific needs.
+ Don’t get discouraged if the hiring manager mentions that “they have lots of very well qualified candidates…” before they lead into this question. (It’s a common “lead in”)
+ Don’t be too modest. This is your chance to shine. Make it count.
+ On the flip side don’t go too overboard and sound too arrogant.
+ Don’t be “wishy-washy” or too general with your answer.
+ Don’t answer with “why” you want the job. Answer with “why you are the perfect fit” for the job.

WHAT DO YOU KNOW ABOUT THE COMPANY?

Any candidate can read and regurgitate the company’s “About” page. So, when interviewers ask this, they aren't necessarily trying to gauge whether you understand the mission—they want to know whether you care about it. Start with one line that shows you understand the company's goals, using a couple key words and phrases from the website, but then go on to make it personal. Say, “I’m personally drawn to this mission because…” or “I really believe in this approach because…” and share a personal example or two.

9. What are your salary requirements?

The #1 rule of answering this question is doing your research on what you should be paid by using sites like Payscale and Glassdoor. You’ll likely come up with a range, and we recommend stating the highest number in that range that applies, based on your experience, education, and skills. Then, make sure the hiring manager knows that you're flexible. You're communicating that you know your skills are valuable, but that you want the job and are willing to negotiate.

HAVE YOU GOT ANY QUESTIONS?

At the end of the interview, it is likely that you will be given the chance to put your own questions to the interviewer.

+ Keep them brief: there may be other interviewees waiting.
+ Ask about the work itself, training and career development: not about holidays, pensions, and season ticket loans!
+ Prepare some questions in advance: it is OK to write these down and to refer to your notes to remind yourself of what you wanted to ask.

It often happens that, during the interview, all the points that you had noted down to ask about will be covered before you get to this stage. In this situation, you can respond as follows:
Interviewer: Well, that seems to have covered everything: is there anything you would like to ask me?
Interviewee: Thank you: I'd made a note to ask about your appraisal system and the study arrangements for professional exams, but we went over those earlier and I really feel you've covered everything that I need to know at this moment.

You can also use this opportunity to tell the interviewer anything about yourself that they have not raised during the interview but which you feel is important to your application:
Don't feel you have to wait until this point to ask questions - if the chance to ask a question seems to arise naturally in the course of the interview, take it! Remember that a traditional interview is a conversation - with a purpose.

TEAMWORK INTERVIEW QUESTIONS:

Now onto the more generic skills, such as your ability to work in a team. No matter how big or small the team is, the hiring manager will want to know that you can develop a strong working relationship with them, as this is essential for productivity and achieving company goals. You may be asked something like the below in order to test if you are a strong team player:

Question: Give an example of team leading in past employment

Answer: You should summarise the task and nature of the group but focus primarily upon your role as team leader. List the personal qualities you possess which made you ideal for leading this team and how you achieved success. Conclude your answer by giving examples of the lessons you learnt while leading this team.

COMMUNICATIONS SKILLS INTERVIEW QUESTIONS:

Your ability to communicate effectively and influence others to act in support of your own and team goals will be examined. An ability to adapt your communication methods depending on situations and individuals is important here.

Question: Provide an example of how you explained a technical concept to a client or co-worker lacking your technical expertise.

How to Answer: Competency based interview questions are meant to determine how well you communicate with others, including your ability to simplify difficult concept. The customer service question about negative feedback is meant to determine whether or not you’re capable of dealing with customer comments that aren’t all that positive in a courteous, constructive manner. With a few of your examples, briefly discuss what you learned from those interactions.

DECISION MAKING INTERVIEW QUESTIONS:

Decision making is a skill that requires the ability to process information and filter this information to ensure you produce a sound and valid decision. You should be able to provide examples of situations where this skill has been tested. Use examples where an obvious answer is not immediately apparent.

Question: Can you tell me about a time when you consulted others when making important project decisions?

How to Answer: You’ll notice that interviewers tend to want specific examples to illustrate your abilities. It’s not unusual for questions to be fairly complex in nature, often involving multiple, related parts. Don’t get overwhelmed. Instead, answer questions one point at at time by providing relevant, easy to digest examples. If you forget the rest of the question, politely ask the interviewer to repeat it.

DRIVE FOR RESULTS INTERVIEW QUESTIONS:

This competency assesses your personal motivation and how you approach challenges.

Question: What is your biggest achievement?

Answer: Ideally, use a work-related example to illustrate your key career achievement. Highlight exactly why you consider it important, with details of the role you played. If your biggest achievement in life is related to your personal life, use commercial references such as budget slashing, determination, commitment and team work to communicate all the associated positive aspects.

PLANNING AND ORGANIZAING INTERVIEW QUESTION:

Auestion: Give me an example of a time when you had to plan a project or a large piece of work.

Tips for Successful Answers:

+ Demonstrate how you have worked in a structured and methodical way.
+ Show real detail about the steps you have taken to plan.
+ Explain how you have amended or flexed the original plans you’d made.
+ Talk about how you built pre-emptive solutions to potential problems

CUSTOMER FOCUS INTERVIEW QUESTION:

Your ability to understand and believe in the importance of customer focus will be tested here. You must display a competency for understanding the difference between internal and external customers.

Question: What about important clients, or complex or sensitive customer relationships?

Answer: If you can show that through your customer service orientation you saved the company from losing something of value (a big client, $X amount of revenue, 20 man hours a week) then you will really demonstrate your customer focus. Or did you save the company a political, organizational, or image problem? Write it out. What was the situation? What action did you take? How did you communicate to your teammates and how did you communicate with the customer? What was the result? … I hope this gets you thinking.

LEADERSHIP INTERVIEW QUESTIONS:

Leadership is a competency employers look for in candidates who are applying for jobs that require them to lead, motivate and/or develop other people, usually team leader and management positions

Question: Describe a time you took a leadership position when you did not have the title of a leader.

Answer: In this question, take an example from a situation where you were in a group and took responsibility to delegate to achieve goals. Show how you gained from the other members to follow your lead and the result of your leadership.

For instance, in college, we were put into groups of four to complete a marketing project. We had to prepare a 15-page paper and 10-minute presentation on a new product. We want to introduce that outside the U.S. I took the initiative among the group to lead a discussion on how we should split up the work when we meet throughout the semester and deadlines for each person’s part of the work. Because I was the one to take the lead the discussion and had a plan in mind, I gained the buy in of the other members quickly. I took everyone’s e-mail address and created a group email to help us all keep track of our progress and so we could help each other outside of class and our meetings. By the end of the semester, my group achieved a 95% on our project.

CONFLICT RESOLUTION SKILL INTERVIEW QUESTIONS:

Conflict resolution skills and the ability to disagree with others professionally and politely are necessary for successful contribution in organizations. If every employee employer hire is willing to engage in conflict resolution, more new ideas and better approaches to solving problems will take place in your organization.

Question: Give an example of a time you handled conflict in the workplace

Answer: Your interviewer will assess your adaptability and gauge the constructiveness of your approach towards conflict, tension and differences of opinion. Your example(s) should highlight the importance of your role in resolving these issues.

CREATIVE SKILLS INTERVIEW QUESTIONS:

Question: Give me an example of your creativity?

Answer sample:

One of my key creative accomplishments occurred in my current job, when I had to increase market share for a new product without increasing our existing marketing budget. I kicked off with some internal brainstorming on how to maximize the use of our resources and be more creative in the way we market. I worked with our two interns, both of whom were creative writing majors, on creating a blog for our website, plus Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook pages for the company’s new product. I tasked the interns with managing the pages, and the three of us came up with relevant content for each social page. The ultimate aim was to create a community of fans and buzz around the new product.

Through product teasers on Twitter, the timely answering of questions on Facebook, and brief video tutorials on Instagram, we grew a fan base of 2,500 people in just three months. When the product was released, first day sales exceeded all expectations, and sales continued on a steady incline for the rest of the year. A lot of the success was attributed to the online fan base we developed, where positive word-of-mouth spurred an influx of customers to purchase the product through the trackable online sales page we created in-house with our design and dev teams.

TIME MANAGEMENT INTERVIEW QUESTIONS:

Question: Explain a time when you were not able to meet a deadline?

Answer: Use an example were you where not able to meet a deadline due to outside factors. For instance, there was a big project that my team was working on, and I had split up the work among some members and myself. During that time, one member of the team had to leave due to their spouse getting a position in another city. He left at a critical time, and I had to re-assign his duties to someone else. I make the new person work to speed with the progression of the project and due to this, was not able to complete it on time. We were still able to complete the project a few days after the deadline even with the change in the team member.

PROBLEM SOLVING INTERVIEW QUESTIONS:

The old adage goes that managers want people who come to them with solutions, not problems, and for me, I couldn’t agree more. The employees who can rise to a challenge and think of innovative ways to solve a problem are the ones who go on to achieve great things both for themselves and the business. Taking this into account, your manager may ask something like:

Question: Give an example of a challenge you faced in the workplace, and how you overcame it

Answer: If you are entering the workplace direct from school, college or university, this question will be geared towards your academic experiences.

Provide a great example of a task that involved using as many skills and abilities as possible. An ideal answer to this question enables you to demonstrate your ability to work in a team, display leadership skills and handle pressure.

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