How to Hire Great People

Let’s be honest, no one likes conducting interviews. It’s tedious. Throw in the added pressure of picking the right person, and it becomes downright overwhelming.

From a candidate’s perspective, I get that the hiring process isn’t easy. Believe me, I’ve done it all: phone interviews, online interviews, 10-person committee interviews. I’m no stranger to the three-round interview process for a single position.

But if you avoid common pitfalls, you can make the process easier. Here’s how.

Do Your Homework

Before every interview be sure to read, or at least skim, the candidate’s resume. You don’t need to know everything about them – that’s what the interview is for – but be sure you know enough to ask relevant questions when you meet with them.

Employers who don’t read resumes are doing a major disservice to themselves. They won’t be able to:

  • See if the Candidate Is Telling the Truth. Confirm who you’re interviewing matches what’s on paper. By asking a candidate to elaborate on the positions and skills listed, you’ll know if they’re telling the truth, or if they embellished their CV.
  • Unearth Additional Skills. Ask about additional skills listed on the resume. Maybe your content writer candidate has a background in web design, too. You’ll be able to probe whether or not they could bring those skills to the table for special projects.
  • Avoid Awkward Moments. Prevent awkward mishaps – like asking how it feels to be a new graduate when the candidate has been out of school for 10 years (yes, this actually happened to me once).

Stop Asking Stupid Questions

Most companies follow a standard Q&A interview formula (e.g. what are your strengths, weaknesses, and where do you see yourself in five years?). While they’re not original, they’re solid questions used to glean information.

However, sometimes you’ll encounter an interviewer who asks inane, ineffective questions. In an interview, I was once asked: “Stand on a cliff and tell me what you see?” These types of questions are hardly relevant to the position, and are often useless in helping you identify qualified candidates.

Abstract and behavioral interview questions don’t show if a candidate can do the job. So why bother asking them? Liz Ryan, CEO and Founder of Human Workplace, dissects those types of questions and others in her fantastic article: “Want to Hire Great People? Stop Asking Stupid Interview Questions.”

Ryan recommends employers avoid abstract questions, skip the interrogation, and ditch the script. Instead treat the interview like a conversation you’d have in a local coffee shop.

As a former reporter, it’s a major pet peeve of mine. I know how to ask questions. And the best “questions” are ones that are less speed-datey and more conversational. You pull more info out of a person when they’re comfortable, in a much less invasive way.

Listen to Your Colleagues’ Feedback

When hiring someone new, think of your other employees. Consider involving them in the hiring process. Perhaps have key members of your team meet with the potential candidate one-on-one or in a small group as you near the end of the interview process. Your team will serve as an invaluable sounding board.

You may like a candidate, but another member of your team might not. I can’t stress how important it is to listen to that team member, especially if they’ll be the one working with the new candidate. Their reasoning for not liking the person could be valid, and hiring that candidate could hurt your team’s dynamic moving forward.

By listening to your team, you’ll avoid hiring someone who would be a poor match.

Don’t Drag the Hiring Process Out

It’s important not to settle when hiring. So it’s understandable that some positions will need two or three rounds to vet candidates. But some companies drag out the process beyond a reasonable amount of time (e.g. three months or longer).

Avoid dragging out the hiring process for several reasons. Not only does it cost employers more money, it reduces productivity, too. Think about it: you spend money recruiting and lose working hours interviewing. But more importantly, as time goes on, you run the risk of losing qualified candidates.

Let’s say a candidate applies for a position with your company in November. Understandably, it might take you a month to get back to them and schedule an interview. By February, you’ve held three rounds of interviews with your candidates. Then the interview process halts until mid-March, when you’re ready to make an offer.

You call the candidate, only to find out that in the interim, the candidate interviewed with a competitor and accepted their offer. This is a prime example of what happens when companies take too long; they run the risk of losing qualified candidates.

Since accepting my position with eZanga, I occasionally get asked to interview for jobs that I applied to months before starting here. I politely decline every time. Unfortunately, those companies waited too long, and I’m happy where I’m at.

Conclusion

Hiring doesn’t have to be hard. Do your homework, ask the right questions, listen to feedback from your colleagues, and streamline the hiring process. Follow these tips, and you’ll better your chances of finding the right person for the job.