The interview guide for first-time hiring managers

It is generally agreed upon that job interviews are stressful. What is less discussed is how nerve-racking the process can be for hiring managers, particularly those who are doing it for the first time.

Considering how costly a bad hire can be, it’s important that hiring managers hit a home run their first time at bat. Here are six steps to make finding the right candidate easier:

Understand the position
Before an interview begins, you must understand the requirements, duties and nuances of the open position. Even if you’ve been recruited to interview candidates for different departments, make sure you do your homework. If conducting interviews for technology jobs for example, study your firm’s software and programs. Talk to tech colleagues about the position requirements and what they’re looking for in a co-worker.

If you’re interviewing a candidate for a different type of role, stick to behavioral interview questions as opposed to technical ones. It’s best to target one or two essential personality requirements for an open position. Assess each candidate for their viability based on these qualities. Remember, however, that not every requirement must be met from the start. With a solid foundation, employees can pick up new skills as they grow with your business.

Know what you’re looking for
Don’t waste your time interviewing candidates who aren’t a match for the role. Set yourself up for success by first drafting an accurate job description. This will help narrow down the number of resumes you receive and better ensure their suitability.

An effective job listing identifies the traits of an ideal candidate, including both hard and soft skills. It emphasizes the position title, responsibilities and expectations in clear language. Understanding the position well is a prerequisite to a great job description. You’ll appreciate the effort you put in later on, as the description helps you to draft focused interview questions.

Recognize your company’s culture
The difference between a good hiring manager and a great one is often decided by their grasp of company culture. Have you bought into your firm’s values and beliefs? Chances are the answer is yes. That’s why you’re in this role, trusted with securing talent for your firm’s future.

Look for the qualities your company espouses in job candidates. You are in the best position to recognize them. Take the time to learn about each interviewee’s background and assess their personalities. Do they align with their potential work environment? Are their non-measurables well-suited to the role? The interview is your opportunity to decide.

Be prepared
You may be nervous for your first interview, but don’t rush into it unprepared. From organizing paperwork to establishing an interview team, you want everything ready to go before the candidate arrives. Enlist the assistance of colleagues whose judgments you trust. They can help you thin the candidate herd.

Preparing a list of questions ahead of time is crucial. Don’t go into an interview counting on winging it in the moment. You’ll likely find yourself losing focus or forgetting the answers to questions. Instead, draw up a plan and keep it in front of you throughout the interview. This will help you stay in control and keep track of the process.

“Questions should reveal information not divulged by an application.”

Ask the right questions
Direct, open-ended questions that invite candidates to explain and expand on their work histories are the essential tool of every great hiring manager. Remember that questions should reveal information not divulged by an application. Don’t be afraid to press on issues candidates seem hesitant to explore.

You might ask a candidate how they organize their time, or what they enjoyed about their last workplace. Questions that expose behavior and competency are useful as well. For example, you could ask them to elaborate on a moment where their leadership proved critical in successfully managing a large project.

Take down notes
Write down important points as the interview progresses. These include new information, relevant details and potential red flags. Once the candidate has left, build out the notes you’ve taken with overall impressions from the group. An even better option is to record these notes electronically since paper resumes are easily lost.

If you don’t have a recruiting technology to help you consolidate candidate feedback, create an excel document for each position. By recording this feedback, you’ll be able to jog your memory when sitting down and reviewing candidates once more before making the hire.

Your first interview as a hiring manager may seem daunting but sticking to these tips will help anyone become their own recruiter.


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