Dave Baker, HCAdvisors.net Human Capital Advisors
Human Resource Consulting

The HR Coach Newsletter
The Power of People…Realized

Screening And Interviewing – Part 3
[Posted December 2011]


What makes a good Interview? You do!  With the number of candidates available for each position, you have many potential people to interview before bringing the winning individual on board. Make sure you are prepared to make your company the one they choose so you don’t miss the right person.

We hear a great deal about the Backpacker Mentality of Gen X’ers and Millenials. What I hear from job seekers is that they want a home where they can grow. Hire the right people, put them in the right positions, keep them challenged and growing. Guess what happens? They stay and your bench strength grows along with them, which makes succession planning easier.

  • Select the interviewing team. Include people who have direct interaction with this position. Include the highest level management person available. A small company? The owner or GM should be in every interview. A Global organization? Who’s the highest person at your location? Your new hire will impact the company dynamics; expose him to multiple people during the interview—he’ll get to know your culture and you’ll get to know him.
  • Do team interviews: two different interviews, each with two different people. One person asks questions; one person makes notes. Plan your trade off of questions. Avoid passive interviewing: asking a list of questions without deviation. Many candidates are good interviewees. You want to gauge if they will be a good employee.
  • Active interviewing is asking a question, then drilling down on the answers:
    • Clarify what you mean by…
    • Give me more details about…
    • Provide an example of what you mean…
    • Did the outcome of your actions satisfy you?
  • Maintain your objectivity. Use your tools of questions, notes, and objective analysis.  Use the criteria you developed in the beginning. If a candidate rates high on nine out of ten, can you be flexible on this one item?
  • Assess body language. Does the candidate convey enthusiasm, energy, and other key traits you need in this position? Or does his body language tell you he is disengaged, hostile or defensive?
  • Don’t hire yourself. Even if you are a star, one of you in the work place is enough. Hire people who will bring new experiences and insights into your company.
  • You know the, do unto others, credo? It works here as well. Interviewing by intimidation doesn’t get you anywhere. Interview in a kind and engaging manner. You’ll receive more information from the person and even if you don’t hire them, they will have a good impression of your company.
  • Write down the questions candidates ask you. These questions can tell you a great deal about the person and what is most important to him. Does he immediately discuss vacation time, benefits, salary? Or did he dig down to find out what the culture is like, what’s the tenure of employees, what is the general education level of your staff? Having a sales person ask about a commission structure is good: you want your sales staff focused on the dollars. Having a management candidate ask about his time off before he asks about the staff he’ll be leading might be a red flag.
  • Avoid snap decisions. Do a team debrief after first interviews to decide who comes back for a second; after second interviews to decide to whom you’ll make an offer. Gather the interviewers and ask two questions: Is this candidate right for us? Are we right for this candidate? Get a lively debate going about the pros and cons of each person. When both answers are "Yes!" then get moving on making the best offer you can make.

Recruiting, screening and interviewing are the basics behind staffing your company with the best people you can. Recruit heavily; screen thoroughly; and interview as if your bottom dollar depends on it because in the end, it does.


Author: Rose M Griffith, SPHR, is an HR consultant with David J. Baker, SPHR. Dave is the founder of the Pittsburgh Human Resources firm Human Capital Advisors (www.hcadvisors.net) and the co-author of The Everything HR Kit. 

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