If you are in business for yourself, you have to know how to interview people. And you need to be very good at it. You probably don’t have an HR department, and you have to be efficient with your time. But you have to get it right. There is nothing more expensive than hiring the wrong person. And your staff is the key if you want to make a business successful. That being the case, how do you conduct an interview for maximum results?
First, understand that what you do in the first two minutes of an interview is the most important part of the entire hiring process.
And it’s up to you to know what to do in order to make those first few minutes count. The most important thing to keep in mind is that you must make the other person feel comfortable.
How do you make the other person feel comfortable?
1. Lock and Load
Look the other person straight in the eye. People expect you to look them in the eye at least 70% to 80% of the time you are with them. If you fail to do so, the other person will become anxious and think you aren’t interested in them. They won’t be themselves, and the interview will probably be a waste of time for both you and the candidate.
Suggestion – Spend some time “interviewing” friends. Ask them if they think you are making enough or too much eye contact. If you aren’t doing this naturally you’ll have to practice. Don’t be afraid to do so.
2. Flash Your Pearly Whites
Keep your applicant at ease by showing how friendly you are. And the best way to do that is by smiling. I know that owning a business isn’t always easy, and sometimes it’s a struggle to smile. But you’ll have to remember this: Most people normally don’t frown, but they don’t smile either during most of their conversations. The problem is that the candidate is already nervous. They will probably interpret any look other than a smile on your face as disappointment or disapproval.
3. Body Language, Baby
If you lean in a little, people will interpret it as you having an interest in what they are saying and who they are. This is exactly what you want. This is super important. You’ll be “signaling” what you think about the candidate before even saying a word. Be mindful of this by simply leaning forward a little as you sit down with your candidate.
4. Make Like a Boy Scout
Be prepared. The time to review your candidate’s resume is before you meet them – not during the interview. Take five minutes to review the candidate’s file prior to the meeting. Find out a little bit about what makes this person tick. This is a great way to create an equal playing field. You want that so the person will feel comfortable enough to show his or her true self and allow you to make an honest assessment.
Don’t waste time talking about your company. Ask questions to find out if your candidate took the initiative and researched your industry and company on their own. When you start asking questions, give them a chance to demonstrate character. Experience is something that is helpful, and it may be a prerequisite. I’ll assume if that is the case, the person sitting in front of you already has that base covered. Now is the time to see if this person has:
- Ability to communicate
- Honesty and trustworthiness
Skills can be taught. Experience can be acquired. But when it comes to these qualities, people either have them or they don’t.
While we’re on the subject of character, try to see how resilient this candidate is. Do they roll with the punches and adapt, or not? One way to find out is to interrupt a line of questioning (politely of course) and change the subject. Note how the person responds to this change of direction. Ask them about a particularly difficult problem they faced and how they overcame it.
6. Social Network
No, I’m not suggesting that you snoop on their Facebook account. Instead, observe how they interact with your receptionist. Were they on time? Were they pleasant? Take the candidate out to lunch and see how they treat your food server and the person who seats you at the restaurant. These observations will tell you if the person you are considering hiring is a team player or not.
Of course it’s critical that the person has a clean resume with perfect spelling and grammar. And you may need someone with technical skills. That’s fine. But don’t gloss over the candidate’s life experiences either. If they don’t list any, ask the person about their most important life experiences. This will tell you if the candidate has any “zing” or not.
Take a few extra minutes to be mindful of how you are going to conduct the interview. Have the right attitude and body language, and ask the right questions. This will help you make your candidate feel comfortable enough to show you who she really is. By conducting your interviews this way, you’ll have a much greater chance of hiring well. For a small business owner, having the right staff is the most important asset there is.
What steps did you take to hire your staff? How did it work out? What would you change?