Does your Staff Know How to Conduct an Interview?
By: Dona DeZube
Are you a small business owner who aspires to become a mid-size business owner?
If so, you know that as your business grows, your staff needs to grow, too.
When that growth is large enough that new hires no longer report directly to you, it’s time to teach your managers how to conduct an interview.
To successfully delegate this hiring process, it’s best to create and share interview best practices.
A standard interview process based on consistent, replicable policies helps ensure that hiring managers select candidates who meet consistent standards for your company.
As Business Grows, So Does Hiring
“When people aren’t going to report to you, the people who are responsible for managing them are the ones who should be doing the hiring,” says Roberta Matuson, president of Matuson Consulting, Northampton, Massachusetts and author of Suddenly in Charge: Managing Up, Managing Down, Succeeding All Around. “Otherwise, it’s like picking your kids’ friends.”
Before they take on their new role as hiring managers, employees will need tools to help them understand how to conduct an interview and make good hiring choices.
“Your company brand is important and the last thing you need is someone who doesn’t share your values making hiring decisions on behalf of your brand,” says Margot Dorfman, president of the US Women’s Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C.
She adds, “You have to be clear about your expectations for work effort, values and how you want your customers treated before you move forward on letting the next level of managers do the hiring.”
The following three steps will help get you started.
Step One: Know the Job
Knowing how to conduct an interview starts with having an understanding about the job being filled.
Ronald Burke, professor of Organizational Behavior at York University in Canada, and author of Human Resource Management in Small Business: Achieving Peak Performance suggests writing out job descriptions and list the behaviors and attitudes associated with success in each position.
Have the person who’s currently in the job write down what they do and what traits made them competent, says Lin Grensing-Pophal, author of Employee Management for Small Business (101 for Small Business).
Or, if someone wasn’t doing a good job, list the things that were missing in the current (or former) employee that need to be found in the new employee.
Step Two: Create Alignment
Use the list of desired job skills and attributes as a roadmap for your new hiring managers to use as they learn how to conduct an interview.
The list can also double as a benchmark to measure for alignment between the organization’s needs at each step of the hiring process.
It can be used to create job postings, screen applicants, develop interview questions — and create an evaluation sheet to compare candidates.
For example, if you’re hiring a retail salesperson and your list of attributes includes being able to deal with difficult customers, a good interview question might be: “Give me an example of a time you had to deal with a demanding customer. What was the outcome and what would you do if you could do it again?”
Step Three: Share Hiring Expertise
By virtue of their roles, your staff may know better than you what it takes to be successful in a position.
While your team may have a more immediate understanding of who will fit with other workers, training is critical, Burke says.
Make sure the interviewer knows how to conduct an interview that stays focused on the job and knows to only ask questions related to job performance.
Have your managers do mock interviews where they can practice their interviewing skills. Look for these signs that they’ve learned how to conduct an interview well:
• Patience while waiting for candidates to think of responses to questions
• Probing for more detail by asking follow-up questions
• Using evaluation materials
• Taking notes while listening to responses
Get Help If You Need It
If these three steps sound overwhelming, or you just don’t know how to conduct an interview well enough to teach others, you can hire a human resources consultant to do the work for you, Grensing-Pophal says.
“They can help you through the process of identifying core competencies, developing questions and rating tools, and tell you where to look for people.”
If money is an issue, try these other options for training your staff about how to conduct an interview:
- Seek help from the Small Business Administration’s Small Business Development Centers.
- Send employees to trade association-sponsored human resources events or classes.
- Look for short or one-day courses on hiring run by your local community college.
- Hire a university student who is majoring in human resources as an intern.
- Stock the office library with hiring manuals and books on interviewing.