By Karen Axelton
Do your New Year’s plans for your business including hiring new employees? Then you’ll want to make sure you get the perfect person for the job. One of the most important parts of choosing a new employee is conducting a good job interview that gives you all the information you need to make a decision. But many small business owners aren’t sure how to do a thorough interview. Here are some tips to help you.
Be prepared. Before the interview, review the candidate’s resume and job application. Also create a list of questions that you ask all candidates. This not only helps ensure you don’t forget anything important, but also means you’re judging employees from a level playing field by asking everyone the same things.
Focus. Don’t check your email, answer your phone or look at your computer during the interview. Not only is it rude, but you’ll also get distracted. You only have a short time to talk to this person before deciding you want to make them part of your business; shouldn’t you be paying attention?
Ask open-ended questions. Instead of questions that can be answered with “yes” or “no,” ask questions that require an explanation or call on the candidate to elaborate. You’ll get a better sense of the person’s personality that way, as well as fuller descriptions of his or her experience.
Know what you can and can’t ask. To avoid getting in trouble for discriminatory hiring, in general, you should stay away from questions regarding an interviewee’s age, marital or parental status, religion, race, disability or legal immigrant status. (This Nolo.com article provides more information and resources on hiring questions.)
Make it a team effort. If you get nervous during interviews, to the point where you find it hard to focus, consider having a partner or key employee conduct the interview with you. You can take notes and observe the candidate, while your partner can do most of the talking. This tactic has the added benefit of giving you someone else’s perspective on the candidate.
Write it down. Take notes on the candidate’s answers to help you remember what was said, especially if you’re interviewing several people in a row. After each interview, spend 5 minutes or so jotting down the relevant information, including your first impression of the person.
Follow up. Let the candidate know when he or she can expect to hear from you regarding the job—and be sure to follow up when you say you will. There’s nothing worse for a candidate than waiting in limbo to hear about a job offer. What’s more, if you’re not professional about how you handle this, it could affect your business’s reputation on social media.
Image by Flickr user Marco Bellucci (Creative Commons)