Increase your success rate as a hiring manager – and increase your career success! 


The interview process resembles dating in many ways.  The hiring manager and the candidate are both on their best behavior during the process.  Then, once on board the candidate begins to show their true colors and the manager (along with the company) begin to reveal their true personality.  This is a recipe for failure.
Sure, you want to show your best when you are recruiting top talent for a key position on your team.  You also want to make sure that the person you hire will be passionate about you, their working group and the company.  After all, happy employees are productive employees.  Why then, do you spend more time promoting your company (and yourself) during the selection process than really getting to know your candidate – and letting them get to know you?
Try these tips to help you break down protective barriers that candidates have in place during the interview ‘courtship’:
  1. Set an agenda for the interview and selection process.  Let each interviewer know what the process will be and how long it will take.  This will reduce their anxiety and create a more open dialogue.
  2. Follow up and follow through.  Set a tone of trust with each candidate by committing to follow up on or before a specific date – and then do it.  Get feedback to the candidate quickly (within 24 hours), even if the feedback is ‘we need more time’.
  3. Meet your final candidates at least twice and conduct one interview on the telephone.  Interviews on the phone can be very revealing because you aren’t distracted by a visual aide and as a result, you’ll pick up on information you might miss in a personal meeting. 
  4. Really talk through reasons for leaving.  Don’t gloss over this one – if it’s always someone else’s fault that the candidate ended a working relationship that’s a HUGE red flag.
  5. Ask about strengths and then ask them to tell a story about that strength.  Stories are personal; characteristics rehearsed in preparation for an interview, aren’t.
  6. Be honest about your weaknesses – and then ask the candidate to be honest about theirs.  This works, really.
  7. Make sure the candidate is doing 80 percent of the talking.  Often, hiring managers spend so much time talking about themselves that they run out of time for the candidate to talk.  You can’t get to know someone unless you LISTEN to them.
  8. Check references personally.  References, especially former managers, are very open about providing constructive information that will help a future manager.  You’re in the club together!
These small adjustments in your interview process really work to help candidates trust you enough to reveal more of their core character so you can make a better hiring decision.
  
Fact #1 – Candidates are rehearsed for their interviews
Fact #2 – Candidates in the market today have more experience interviewing than you do
Fact #3 – Hiring strong is ABSOLUTELY a reflection of you as a manager
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We spend a lot of time with CEOs and hiring authorities helping them find, identify and hire top talent.  I’m surprised at the lack of an executable plan for the interview process within companies both large and small.  It would appear as if hiring managers believe that everyone in the company knows how to interview, understands the ideal profile they are interviewing for and is actively interested in making a great hire.  Think again…

As a hiring manager you’ve taken the time to build a comprehensive (and exhaustive) list of requirements, qualifications and responsibilities for each open position and have a very clear mental picture of the person you are looking for.  Then, you dutifully deliver this document to the HR department so that they can do their job. 

Have you met with your internal recruiting team or HR department to describe your vision for the absolutely amazing candidate in detail?

You’ve announced to your department that you are hiring a new person and expect them to help during the interview process.  You’ve selected your top guys to help interview and told HR to schedule time for qualified candidates to meet with these people because they are doing a similar job and will be able to help technically qualify folks.

Did you meet with your interview team to whiteboard the ideal qualifications and prioritize exactly what is important for a person to be successful in THIS particular role?


Interviews are scheduled, and everyone on the team seems to have a different understanding of the candidates, their qualifications and whether or not they would make a good hire.  Each individual applied their own interpretation of the meaning of “interview” to the process


Have you trained your team on HOW to interview effectively for YOUR company?

Fact #1 – Candidates in today’s market are better at interviewing than you are – they get more practice

Fact #2 – Interviewing for the whole person is critical – Competency AND 
Character

Fact #3 – Most companies practice accidental interviewing 

Hire Responsibly

June 22, 2009

Testing and backgrounds don’t necessarily reveal CHARACTER

Although skill-based testing and background checks can help you determine baseline qualifications and keep your company out of the courtroom, these methods don’t help you determine the true character of the person you’re hiring. I’m surprised at how many companies don’t do even the most rudimentary reference checking prior to hiring someone who can have a deep and long lasting impact on your business – and your customers.

The human factor, especially in early stage companies, is critical to maintaining a high level of productive energy in your company. Candidates who spend time with members of their future team, and members of other functional areas will have a much better idea of what your culture is all about. As well, you’ll get a broader understanding of the candidates if each interviewer focused on a different functional area of responsibility = marketing looks for different things in a hire than QA or engineering. I call it ‘checking blindspots.’

Do you have several team members interview each candidate?

Multi-dimensional interviews are always a good idea. Most companies conduct interviews in a vacuum. This is probably because they want to ensure a fair and lawful process however, if you are too clinical about your interviewing, or not detailed enough you may miss some very important information. Interviewing should in a manner that is relevant to the role. Consider modifying the approach.

Do you phone interview candidates who will be working directly with your customers?

Hiring managers are increasingly busy. As a result, the interview process tends to be an exercise in going through the motions to see if there is anything that would keep you from hiring rather than finding the reason TO hire. There is a definite lack of ‘thought provoking’ and interesting discussion during the selection process. An example: “what are your weaknesses,’ is boring and the candidate is prepared for the answer. “If I were to speak with your former manager, what would he/she say are the 2 things that you need to further develop in order to move to the next level?” is interesting, and the candidate is not prepared for the answer, so they have to give it some thought – and you’ll get a gut level response.

Are you REALLY engaged in making the BEST hire?

Fact #1 – Hiring Managers RARELY check references on their recruits

Fact #2 – Most hiring mistakes could have been avoided

Fact #3 – Job seekers are better prepared for the interview than you are

Unemployment is up which makes hiring a bit of a challenge …

A larger pool of unemployed people out there tends to make some feel that they really don’t need to put effort into talent acquisition. The position descriptions aren’t as interesting, the interview process starts to slide a bit. Follow up with candidates isn’t quite as immediate as in the past because they aren’t really going anywhere.

Are you creating a future problem for yourself through lazy hiring practices?

In a downturn I tend to see greater volume of resumes, but a lower quality of applicants. This is a result of really great people who are employed deciding that they had better table their search and stay the course rather than risk transitioning to a new position now. As a hiring manager your task becomes harder. Outbound sourcing, especially for those hard-to-hire skillsets becomes even more important.

Are you making it easy for qualified applicants to find you?

Yep, you’re busy. Your budget has been cut; you have more work to do because you’ve lost headcount. All those unemployed people out there are just adding to your workload. You really don’t have to respond to people who aren’t qualified for positions at your company; it’s not a good use of your time.

Are you treating people who contact your company about employment with the same compassion you would hope for if you were in their shoes?

Fact #1 – Scrutiny and care during the hiring process is MORE critical in a soft market

Fact #2 – The economy will rebound

Fact #3 – We all can have a positive impact on getting America back to work

The past few years have been ‘consuming’ years for business. Money was easy to come by and relatively cheap. Many organizations took advantage of additional cash to invest in capital projects. Now the coffers are drying up and you need to spend wisely. It takes strength of character to manage through tough times.

Does your executive team have the courage to get you through?

You’ve heard this before…you’re only as good as your weakest link. 2009 holds a lot of promise for companies who know their market, know their customers and take time to assess/adjust/attack. Now is the time to evaluate your leadership team to make sure that your weakest link will carry you through the coming year.

Do you have the right people doing the right jobs?

Democracy is a beautiful thing. Every four years our country has the opportunity to make dramatic shifts in policy, process and people. Generally speaking, high performers and problem solvers who believe in the new direction may get to stay. Everyone else is replaced with those who will help set a new course and execute on the administration’s strategy.

If an election were held in your organization today who would still have a job?

Fact #1 – When revenue decreases, excuses will increase where there are weak leaders

Fact #2 – Ignoring a trouble spot will NOT make it go away

Fact #3 – Rewarding mediocrity simply reinforces the behavior