Thursday, July 10, 2014

Growing your Small Business Starts with Hiring the Right People

Interviewing tips to uncover the best talent

by Michael Betrus

A quick Amazon search for "job interview" books yields over 50,000 results. 50,000! If a candidate wants Google-sourced advice on prepping, interviewing, answering tough questions, follow-up, negotiating a's all out there. Some of it is even pretty good. When you're a business owner getting ready to expand, there is not nearly as much out there when it comes to the interviewing process/ candidate interviewing processes.

Last year I had worked with an owner that had to hire a manager for the first time. We talked about his approach, role played, and I thought I'd get him a book to help him along. Then I learned there are hardly any online or published resources on how to interview to find great candidates! If you're reading this you know how important that investment in team members is and how you have to get it right the first time. Consider these tips when interviewing your next candidate.

Build Rapport

Your candidates are probably nervous. They probably have a lot hinged on this interview. Hopefully they prepped well, and in short have invested much time and emotion in this make or break meeting. You want to see their best, so you get the best window into their skills and potential fit. Breaking the ice with friendly small talk for five minutes or more will give you a window into their personality and set them at ease so they communicate at their best.
  1. "How is your week going?" Then build on that with a couple questions about whatever they respond.
  2. "I see you went to school at Michigan State. What did you think about the tournament?"
  3. "How's the interview process been for you? How does the job market seem right now?"
Smile frequently, raise your eyebrows occasionally, laugh a little, give the conversation generous pauses to get the candidate talking. Use some voice inflection, and make some reactionary comments like "Excellent!" or "That sounds terrific!", to provide reinforcement and to build the candidate up some so they're at ease.

Questions and Answers

You've got your role questions prepared. How you frame those up and probe deeper is the difference between a perfunctory interview and a probing one. Consider these types of question phrases when asking about past experiences.
  1. "What do you think about that?"
  2. "How do you feel about this?"
  3. "If you could magically change that how should it look?"
  4. "How should it get from where it is to be excellent?"
What you're doing here is probing into the candidate thought process to understand their reasoning and approach. And, do they know what excellence looks like? Can they reason how to get there?

Go Deep

If your candidate buys one of the 50,000 books available or the many online prep resources, they'll have prepared responses to boilerplate questions. So how do you differentiate them and find out what they're really thinking?

Suppose you're asking a question about how your manager candidate performance manages their team. You ask "How do you coach or develop your team."

They respond "I have 1:1's with each member of my team and give them ample time to speak and then coach them on ways to improve." How can you go deeper? Here's something you can say to follow up.

Walk to your white board or pull out a pad and ask "Do you have a model you always use, a structure of how you deliver constructive coaching?" Then take some notes.

Or follow-up with "That sounds great! Do you mind if we role play it for five or ten minutes? I'll be your team member and you can show me how you coach?"

There is a lot of art in conducting great interviews. The better you are the better you will uncover great candidates. You'll win and so will your new team members.

Michael Betrus is the author of Great Questions Great Answers and Perfect Phrases for Resumes and Cover Letters, published by McGraw Hill. Connect with Michael on LinkedIn.

1 comment:

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