Build Your Team
Interview: What a lousy word. As Managers, we hate conducting them. As candidates, we dread participating in them. And still, at some point in our lives, we are forced to be on either end of the fun. I believe so many people hate the interview process because it is truly an artform that they haven't learned to master ... yet!
Whether you are a manager or applying for a position, interviewing is a lot of work. It means that you have to prepare yourself to find or be the perfect candidate, keeping in mind that the perfect candidate does not simply fulfil all of the job description criteria. As a manager, it allows me to frontload the work so that, down the line, there is less of a chance that I experience issues with that employee. I have found many books and articles on how to best interview but, today, I would like to give a few high level tips to managers conducting interviews. I find that a lot of interviews fail because a manager is disengaged and poorly prepared, so let's take a look at what I have prepared for you:
1. Get in the right mindset - Interviewing allows you to (literally!) handpick the people that are joining your team and the company, which means you get to design your A-Team. This makes interviewing a lot more bearable when you approach it with this mindset.
You are most likely one of the first faces the candidate will meet inside the company. Walking into the room with a grumpy, unenthusiastic face will not ensure you get the best candidate, in fact, who would want to work with you when that is their first impression of their future boss?
2. Do your homework - The more you know about the candidate in advance, the easier the interview will be (on both of you!). The interview should be a discussion, not a CIA interrogation. This is just as much of an interview for you as it is for the candidate - why? They are trying to see if the company is a good fit for them. Don't waste their time by begrudgingly showing up to an interview and forcing them to answer a list of questions you found on the internet because your boss voluntold you to be there.
One more important point: The candidate is looking to see if they would want to work together with you as their manager. If you put little to no effort into the interview process, imagine the impression they are getting of you as a people manager (My guess: impassionate, uncaring, lazy... shall I continue?). Don't even get me started on the number of statistics that show how many people leave a company because of their manager.
3. Prepare some [open] questions - Sitting in an interview where you are only asked Yes/No questions is about as boring as talking to the wall. Your Recruiting Team should have a list of example questions that you can use throughout the interview; however, after reviewing the candidate's resume, you should prepare some candidate-specific questions that are tailored to their experiences. This will communicate to them that you are looking to invest in the right candidate, and not just using the session to ensure the person looks presentable and can string two sentences together.
4. Know where you are willing to make concessions - While you may find the perfect candidate on paper, you might quickly notice that their personality will not fit in with your team or that they do not live the company's core values... and it's ok not to hire them. I personally would rather hire someone with less experience, a better culture fit, and more passion to learn, as opposed to someone who simply checks all of the boxes.
5. Listen to your gut - I have had to deal with my fair share of unproductive employees and, I can tell you from experience, they do not enjoy someone (even their manager) telling them where their shortcomings are. In fact, they will often try and turn the issue around on you, trying to prove it to be your fault. That being said, if you have a bad gut feeling during the interview process, do not move forward with the candidate. It will only cause you more heartache in the future. It is worth taking the extra time to vet further candidates for your team.
What I am preaching is not rocket science. It's simply a starting point - a point that tells you how important it is to put in the work up front. The more times you do it, the less time you will need to spend preparing. Experience will give you the confidence you need to be on either end of an interview. Once you can master these basic principles, let me know! I am happy to help take you to the next level (or recommend a book if that's what you are looking for).
Remember: Try to enjoy the process so that you can focus on building an awesome team.
If you enjoy my blog, please consider purchasing a children's book which gives back to working moms: Freckle Faced Gus and A Stay-at-Home Dad?