Interview Tips for the Solo Interviewer
By: Eric Herrenkohl
In many small businesses, hiring employees is solely the responsibility of the business owner. However, even a very small company can create a great process for making new hires. Here are some hiring practices that can help your one-man or one-woman shop make a great hire and avoid a hiring mistake.
1. Get advice from others. Particularly if you are creating a new role, you may not know what you want in a new hire. Reach out to other employers who have similar roles in their organizations and get some advice on what you need in the person that you hire. In fact, those executives may be a source of good referrals when it comes to candidates for your position.
2. Be clear about the results you want. When you create a job description, don’t just create a laundry list of tasks for the new role. Think about the results you expect from the position and the value that the role will create for your business and for you. This will help you focus on the most important skills to look for in job candidates. It will also help you to sell the importance of the role to the person you decide to hire.
3. Put a simple interview scorecard together. This gives you an objective set of criteria to grade every candidate. After each interview, rank the candidate using the scorecard so that you can compare him or her to others.
4. Ask candidates to explain their accomplishments from past positions. Don’t spend more than 20% of a first interview talking. Use open-ended questions and follow-up questions that force candidates to describe their accomplishments in detail.
5. Rely on trustworthy sources. Have someone else — a business colleague, your attorney or your CPA for example — tag team with you and interview final candidates. Ask them to join you for a morning when you interview two or three final candidates. The input of another professional will be invaluable to you in making a better hiring decision.
6. Conduct a personnel assessment. Personnel assessments give you insight about job candidates that you won’t uncover in an interview. They help you to determine if someone has the talent to do a job, if they have an issue in their personal background that is relevant to your position and other important issues. These tools are a budget-conscious way to make better hiring decision by getting objective, professional input into the people you are hiring.
7. If at all possible, try before you buy. If feasible, hire each of your final candidates to work with you on a specific project before you hire one of them full time. This gives you a chance to get a feel for what it will be like to work together.
Eric Herrenkohl is the founder and president of Herrenkohl Consulting, a firm that helps clients build great sales teams. He is the author of the book, How to Hire A-Players (John Wiley & Sons, April 2010.) To receive his free e-letter, subscribe at herrenkohlconsulting.