The Interviewer’s Checklist: 5 Questions to Ask Yourself
It’s a new year, and I certainly hope to hear everyone’s businesses are growing. Growing so much in fact, that it’s time to hire newbies! Interviews, resumes, and the entire hiring process are traditionally a bane for the unemployed job-seeker. But what many job-seekers fail to realize is that it can be just as stressful for the company to go through the hiring process as the candidates. The best candidates are far more likely to be in the running for several jobs at the same time. There are many cool, competent candidates out there (alliteration intended), and let’s say they apply for your job listing. How do you, as the interviewer, run through the hiring process in a way that makes the candidate want to work for you?
Most startups get the preliminary stuff: have a cool website, have a cool company culture complete with office pranks and a video game setup, not having a steady supply of Doritos is a deal-breaker, and definitely allow employees to dress casual for most days. Companies even have the bring-your-dog-to-work thing going on. This brings in candidates both competent and not, especially us millennials, but the real test is the interview.
Here are 5 questions to ask yourself before and during the interview to make sure you are representing your company admirably to the candidates you want to hire for the job.
Can my candidate see their own career grow at my company?
I can’t tell you how many jobs I applied for that seemed like great opportunities until I got to the interview. I mean no offense, but as a communications professional, it’s not very encouraging for my future career to be greeted by a potential boss who gives me the dead fish handshake, stares a hole in his notes the entire interview, and asks me the most generic two questions: tell me about yourself, and do you have any questions for us?
. . . Seriously?
Needless to say I turned down those jobs on account of not seeing how my own career would benefit from working under such abysmal communication conditions. The moral of this story is simple: engage your candidates in some friendly chat before the interview begins. Let them know you are personable and likable . . . and then you can make them squirm all you want. And be sure to ask more than two questions, preferably creative and interesting questions. Just a thought.
Does my candidate view me as someone they would love to work with?
Regardless of whether you are actually the person the new hire will be working under, you are all they have as a frame of reference to understand the people at your company. It’s your job to represent the company culture to this candidate in order to see if they’d be a good fit for it. If your culture jokes a lot, throw out some jokes and see how your candidate responds.
Our office bonds over games and food, unity and compassion. Our questions range from volunteer work, to favorite childhood video game, to favorite place to eat in Austin. The answer itself doesn’t necessarily matter. To each his own. But if your favorite candidate feels that they have something in common with the team, it will give them more of an incentive to choose you over another company.
Does my candidate view me as a competent professional?
This is a weird one. I’m speaking from experience here, and not from any sort of primary research, so that’s my disclaimer. I’ve gone through interviews before where I genuinely questioned how much my interviewer knew about the job they were hiring me for. I’m one who asks a lot of question, so many questions, too many questions during my interviews . . . well, all the time, but especially in my interviews. When the interviewer seemed unable or uninterested in answering, it just didn’t give me good vibes about the company.
There are legitimate companies out there that are just . . . bad at what they do. Your candidate may very well have just witnessed this in another company, but aren’t entirely sure what they experienced. Nevertheless, when they get to your interview, you want to blow them away with your own industry acumen. If your best candidate sees you as a wealth of knowledge, and as someone who is willing to dole out that knowledge, they’ll bend backwards trying to impress you throughout their career at your company.
Is my candidate genuinely interested in this job?
Let’s face it. We’ve all applied for jobs we were under qualified or overqualified for, jobs we only intended to be temporary, jobs that just happened to be available so we went for it, and jobs we straight up didn’t want but what the heck we applied anyway. You’re going to get these types of candidates applying with you too. I myself applied with Motoza as a part-time assistant, thinking it would be “something until I can find full-time work”. Two years later, I’m full-time account management. Who knew?
The point here is that you can attract the best candidates who applied under the above criteria by demonstrating that actually, your company is exactly the kind of place they want to work. They just didn’t know it. The practical application of this is up to you and how your company operates. Incentives are more than just good pay and benefits. It can be the promise of invaluable experience and education while on the job, great coworkers, potential to move up, potential to make great connections, etc. Why should your favorite candidate be interested in your job despite the fact that they applied without discretion?
Does my candidate view the work they will be doing as important?
Here’s one to target the millennial age group. Granted, us millennials need to be patient, and do our time at the bottom rung like everyone else. But one of the reasons we have a hard time with this, is because we don’t view “bottom rung” work as really that important. It is. It always is. You as the interviewer are tasked with the job of getting us to see it.
If your candidate gets that the company is a team working towards a greater goal, take the time to explain that greater goal in the interview. Talk up your clients as great people to serve, since your candidate will be working for them. Convince your candidate that the work is needed in the interview, and it will set the tone for grunt work when they start.
Even moving up the ladder, if you’re hiring for a more experienced position, I think most of us would like to think we’re doing good for good people. Everyone has different things they look for in job satisfaction. You have a lot of control over the impression your candidates will have of the job satisfaction they can expect with your company. Leverage that to ensure the best candidate doesn’t reject you.