For many hiring managers, selecting great candidates can feel like gambling against long odds when they hire candidates based solely on their intuition, a good skills test score, or because the candidate shares a trait with a previous successful hire. Exclusively relying on these decision drivers often causes hiring managers to look back and wonder “Where is the person I hired?” or “Where are all the good candidates hiding?”
Conducting interviews should not feel as worrisome as watching a roulette wheel. The quality of many hiring decisions is often dependent on the accuracy of the hiring manager’s plan, the hiring manager’s listening ability, and the quality of the hiring manager’s questions. Following are best practices certified forensic interviewers employ to conduct successful online and in person interviews:
Document Outcomes Before Knowledge, Skills, Abilities, and Other Characteristics (KSAOs)
Hiring managers are often tempted to fill open positions as quickly as possible or with candidates who possess one specific attribute, such as years of experience. The consequences of these short-term focuses can be avoided by:
- Documenting the outcomes candidates will be expected to produce before listing the KSAOs necessary to produce them. This approach limits the interviewer’s biases and creates objective benchmarks all candidates can be measured against – as opposed to comparing candidates to each other. As Geoff Smart and Randy Street illustrated in their book “Who,” after the outcomes, skills and attributes have been identified, hiring managers can begin the process of determining “Who fits this profile?”
- Outlining the questions the interviewer believes will elicit the information necessary to verify each candidate’s ability to drive the required outcomes. Crafting core questions prior to conducting any interviews allows hiring managers to remain focused on the critical details they need to confirm.
- Determining the number (and correct order) of interviews, and interviewers, necessary to successfully verify the candidate who possesses the KSAOs necessary to generate the required outcomes.
Improve the Accuracy of Your Observations
Interviewers often reduce the accuracy of their observations by confusing their candidates with unstructured conversations and distracting themselves with their internal monologues Interviewers can reduce these problems by:
- Leveraging a thorough introduction to keep their candidates focused. Candidates stay more engaged and provide more contextually appropriate responses when they understand how the interview will proceed, what the interviewer expects, and have the opportunity to ask clarifying questions.
- Observing how candidates look, act, and sound when they verify their contact information on their resumes at the start of every interview. Considering that studies show between 78% and 85% of candidates lie during the interview process, it is important for interviewers to establish what candidates sound like when they provide truthful, comfortable, answers. Establishing this baseline positions interviewers to identify when their candidates appear uncomfortable, and ask appropriate follow-up questions.
Increase the Impact of Your Questions
For better or worse, interviewers often get what they ask for. Well-crafted questions often generate the information interviewers require or expose the lack thereof. The three most common mistakes interviewers make are:
- Asking compound questions: Asking candidates a question such as “Please tell me about a time you experienced conflict with a supervisor, what created the conflict, how you attempted to resolve the conflict, and what the result was” will likely confuse candidates and lead interviewers to lose patience with the response. A better way to ask the question is, “Please take your time and walk me through the most difficult conflict you have navigated with a supervisor.” This question allows candidates to share information they feel is important, and interviewers to ask the necessary follow-up questions.
- Interrupting candidates: According to Ed Geiselman’s research, interrupting people is the number one mistake interviewers make across all disciplines. Interrupting candidates creates the impression that the interviewer does not value their responses and limits the information candidates choose to share. Interviewers will learn much more if they remain patient and let the conversation come to them.
- Asking “Tell me about a time…”: This time-honored approach encourages candidates to share prepared stories that may not reflect the truth. Interviewers will get a better and more substantive response if they ask candidates for “a specific time” something happened. For example, instead of asking, “Please tell me about a time you identified an unexpected solution to a problem,” hiring managers should ask, “When was the last time you identified an unexpected solution to a problem?”
Gambling is synonymous with risk. Hiring managers who employ an outcome-focused approach, patiently observe the totality of their candidates’ responses, and ask persuasive questions stop playing games of chance and start making educated decisions that minimize risk.
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