Interview Preparation: Hire a Candidate with Just One Interview
By: Paul Falcone
When it comes to the job interview process, there’s no rule that says you have to invite a job candidate back to your office for multiple rounds of interviews. Arguably it helps to have several opinions from your peers who are evaluating the same candidate at different times.
Still, if you’re a solo interviewer looking to save time or you simply tend to trust your initial instincts after a first meet-and-greet, then consider “going with your gut” based on your initial impression in the interview.
However, you’ll want to be sure and add some objective, diagnostic analysis into the mix to ensure that “likeability” equals “compatibility” in terms of your business and communication styles and there are no surprises down the road.
The Initial Telephone Screen
Once you’ve done a resume review to identify qualified candidates, conduct a thorough phone interview screen, which could save you oodles of in-person time later on. Open up your conversation by getting a feel for what the candidate is looking for, while making sure that your opportunity syncs well with the individual’s career aspirations. Start by asking some of the following questions:
- What attracted you to the Monster job posting and why are you looking to leave your current position?
- What does your current employee compensation package look like now in terms of base salary versus bonus or other perks? (Include information regarding overtime hours worked and benefits, if applicable.)
- When is your next merit increase and/or bonus scheduled to go into effect?
This initial investment of your time should help you screen out candidates who aren’t serious about their job search or who can’t articulate their needs clearly. Likewise, it will save you time in terms of interviewing candidates who are currently earning too much money relative to what you plan on paying.
The In-Person Interview
Meeting with the candidate in person provides the chance to get to know the real person behind the “interview hype.” As you’re conducting the interview, this is your chance to ask interview questions that draw out honest responses that help the candidate feel comfortable with discussing career goals with you:
- What would be your next step in career progression if you remained with your current company; how long would it take you to move into that next role?
- If you were to accept this position, how would you explain that to a prospective employer five years from now? How would this job help your future career progression or help you build your resume?
- What needs to change at your current company for you to consider staying put; what would your supervisor do if you gave notice now in order to keep you?
- Are there any other pending offers on the table or late-stage interviewing discussions that are in play?
- If we were to make you an offer, when would you be able start? How much notice would you need to give your current employer?
The value of these questions focuses on your opportunity in terms of the longer-term career benefits it offers candidates. But make no mistake about it: These “selfless” interviewing questions will help you gain a much deeper insight into how candidates think, manage their careers, and communicate on their feet; this strategy will also garner lots of goodwill from the candidates themselves because you’re putting their needs ahead of your own -- a win-win for both candidate and company.
The Post-Interview Reference Check
No matter how much you fall in love with a candidate during a job interview, you’ll rarely want to extend the offer on the spot. Even if your organization doesn’t perform background checks or drug screens, you’ll at least want to ask reference checking questions before an extending an offer. In fact, extending an offer without speaking with prior employers is like having a loose cannon on the deck of your ship!
To start, speak with former supervisors who can address what it’s like working with this candidate; ask about how the candidate performs a day-to-day basis. Once you’ve got the former supervisor on the line, ask questions like:
- How would you grade Janet’s ability to accept constructive criticism?
- How many hours a week does she find it necessary to work in order to get her job done?
- What motivates Janet, and is there anything that typically "unwinds" her or bothers her?
- Would you consider this person "high maintenance" or "low maintenance" in terms of supervision?
- Would you rehire her if given the chance?
Once you’re convinced that you have compatible business styles and that this offer would not only be excellent for your company but great for the candidate’s career progression, you’re set to make the job offer -- even after only having one in-person interview with the candidate.
Yes, conducting your due diligence can be a large initial investment, but when done correctly and for the right candidate, these steps should flow together fairly seamlessly.
Paul Falcone is Vice President of Human Resources at a major Fortune 500 company. He is the author of several books including 96 Great Interview Questions to Ask Before You Hire, 101 Tough Conversations to Have with Employees, 101 Sample Write-Ups for Documenting Employee Performance Problems and 2600 Phrases for Effective Performance Reviews.