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May 20, 2016

Six Ways Business Owners Can Make Their Interviews More Effective

Image courtesy of (Ambro) / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Interviews often consume a lot of time and money for businesses looking to hire. With so many unemployed and underemployed people competing for positions around the country, employers often sort through hundreds of applicants for a single position. Of those applicants, only a handful typically have the knowledge and skills needed to perform the job successfully and will get an interview. How then can you make interviews more effective so you don’t waste your time? Consider the following tips to help get you started.

Narrow the List
Before you start interviews, reduce the applicant list down to the most qualified of the applicants. Pick out resumes that have the desired education and work background and trash the rest. Comb through cover letters and get rid of applications that have cover letters or resumes that appear to be copied from online sources, lack creativity and forethought, or contain glaring spelling and grammar errors. Put any applicants that were referred by employees or industry leaders at the top of the interview pile.

Organize the Data
Assign an employee the job of inputting pertinent details from each interviewee’s resume into a database where you can compare applicants using different perspectives and add notes with questions specific to each applicant’s background. Consider using existing software to organize the data, such as an employee onboarding software like BambooHR, so it’s easier later to add additional notes during second-round interviews, when applicable, and to add the chosen candidate to the employee pool.

Offer Potential Scenarios
To learn if an applicant can handle the job, create a list of scenarios that might take place during an average day or emergency, and then present one of these scenarios to each applicant. Interview anyone a second time that maintains a calm demeanor while coming up with a solution, and describes a good standard method for handling the scenario and/or thinks outside of the box.

Read Body Language
When you interview someone, you have to try to determine who they are in a short amount of time, with nothing but their application details and verbal statements to guide you — or, so it might seem. Everyone communicates loudly with body language. For example, applicants that have weak handshakes without any medical cause, might not be strong enough to perform laborious work. Overly nervous applicants might have difficulty with focus. Applicants that refuse to look you in the eyes might be lying about something.

Perform Background Checks
Although most employers know they should always perform background checks, many skip the process because of the cost. Although it’s wise to perform a security check to confirm that an employee doesn’t have a criminal history, you can perform a less expensive background check by merely confirming the truth behind the applicant’s educational and work history. Check that all schools, companies and contacts actually exist. Confirm that the applicant has a certificate or degree, previously worked where stated, performed well in past roles, and left past positions without any incidents.

Ask the Applicant
Many employers fail to ask interviewees the most important question in the correct way: “Why do you ‘honestly’ want this position?” Plenty of employers ask the question without emphasizing that they want an honest answer. As a result, they typically hear a pre-scripted response about how the applicant is attempting to advance their knowledge and career. Placing emphasis on honesty pushes the applicant to think about their answer, and reveals a great deal about the applicant’s motivations, personality, strengths and weaknesses.

Although effective interviews are defined by the use of time and the outcome, some combination of these methods can help make the process run smoother and more effectively. A well-organized and streamlined interview process increases your chances of quickly filling a position with the right person.


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Brooke Chaplan is a freelance writer and blogger. She lives and works out of her home in Los Lunas, New Mexico. She loves the outdoors and spends most her time hiking, biking and gardening. For more information contact Brooke via Twitter @BrookeChaplan.

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