Interview Tips to Make Your Recruitment Process More Effective

Interview Tips for Managers

The cost of recruiting, hiring, and onboarding new employees can be as much as $240,000, according to Jörgen Sundberg, CEO of Link Humans, an employer branding agency in London.

Furthermore, 75% of all hiring is because of employee turnover. Managers typically despise recruiting for many reasons, but mainly because it is a time-consuming process. The interviewing process isn’t easy and many find it hard to find the time to develop thorough procedures. In this article, we will discuss different interview tips to help you come up with the best ones for your organisation.

What is the Cost of a Bad Hire?

Before we explore some management interview tips in more detail it is important to understand the implications of getting it wrong. Turnover is the rate at which employees leave an organisation and are replaced. Understanding how your turnover rate is calculated and why people leave your organisation can help you make changes in your hiring practices.

According to a CareerBuilder Survey, the companies surveyed lost an average of $14,900 (£11,000) on every bad hire in the last year. In addition, nearly three in four employers say they’ve hired the wrong person for a position.
Some of the reasons why they were bad hires were because:

  • 35% thought they could learn new skills quicker than they did
  • 33% say the candidates lied about his/her qualifications
  • 32% say they took a chance on a nice person
  • 30% felt pressured to fill the role quickly
  • 29% said they focused on skills and not attitude
  • 25% said they ignored some of the warning signs

All of these things are preventable with methodical, standardised, and effective interviewing.

Finding Your Top Talent

Once you know the person can do the job, a key tip is to focus on the interview process to ensure the applicant has the soft skills you want in your organisation.

‘Most skills can be learned, but it is difficult to train people on their personality. If you can find people who are fun, friendly, caring and love helping others, you are onto a winner.’ – Richard Branson, Founder of Virgin Group.

According to the Oxford Dictionary, soft skills are defined as personal attributes that enable someone to interact effectively and harmoniously with other people. An analysis of 2.3 million LinkedIn users showed nearly 58% of users who had advertised they had great communication skills on their LinkedIn profiles were hired in less than a year. The reason? Most employers want great communicators. Communication is an example of a soft skill.

Before bringing someone on board, Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon asks these three questions:

  • Will I admire this person?
  • Will this person raise the level of effectiveness for our company?
  • Where can this person shine?

Understanding exactly what you want will help you fill the position. Your job description should state the skills you need, you should also put competencies of desired characteristics into your descriptions to ensure you can effectively find your A-players.

Who Are the A-Players?

‘..A small team of A+ players can run circles around a giant team of B and C players’ – Steve Jobs

MBM Infographic titled Who are the A-Players? with cartoon superheroes
Hiring ‘A-Players’ will mean you will need fewer people in the team

Hiring A-players can be hard work and time consuming, but once you develop a standardised method of recruiting, you should have no problem hiring these superstars.

Types of Interviews

There are many types of interview questions. Some of these are:

Common Interview Questions

These are the types of questions that are usually asked as starters such as:

  • Tell us more about yourself
  • Why do you want to work here?
  • What have you heard about us?
  • What are some of your strengths and some of your weaknesses?
  • Where do you see yourself in five years time?

Basic questions help start the interview process. They are the interview questions and answers the candidate will research and be prepared to answer.

Competency-Based Interview Questions

These types of interview questions focus on past behaviour with the belief that past behaviour predicts future behaviour. Competency-based interviews are designed for applicants to describe a situation/task, describe the actions they took, and the result of those actions. This is the STAR approach. For example, here are some questions to ask in an interview:

  • Tell me about a time when you faced a conflict while working on a team. How did you handle that?
  • Give me an example of a time when you did not meet a client’s expectation. What happened and how did you attempt to rectify the situation?
  • As a manager, tell me about a time when you had to terminate someone? How did you know you had to terminate? What guidelines and approval did you research and seek before you terminated the employee?
Problem-Solving Interview Questions

These are the types of questions whereby the interviewer gives the candidate a problem to solve; the candidate then has to describe their thought processes when solving it.

For example:

Our finance department has a problem with high turnover and most employees leave within the first year. How would you solve this problem?

Describe in detail the steps you would take.

Obviously, the applicant will not be able to solve the problem entirely without knowing all the information about the department, but he or she should be able to describe their thought process and ideas about how they would first approach the problem. Does the candidate have the leadership skills to effectively solve a problem within the department? Is the candidate creative with their thought processes? Do they ask questions to help them understand more? Do they think about collaborating with other departments or managers to solve their problem?

Company Culture Interview Questions

These types of interview questions are designed to see how well an employee will fit into the organisation. This also gives insight to candidates about your company culture to prevent voluntary turnover. Will they do what is best for the company?

For example, a typical interview question would be:

We all have things we like and dislike about the company. What were some of the things you liked about your last company and what were some things you didn’t like?

Some companies, like Netflix, use interview techniques designed to search for cultural fit and even give presentations to show applicants more about their culture and what they are looking for. This can, consequently, help reduce turnover by being completely transparent about cultural fit – on both sides. Remember, it is a two-way process.  Well-prepared candidates should have questions for the interviewer too.

Newer Types of Interview Styles

The 4-Question Interview

Brendan Reid, SVP of Marketing at Ceridian, who wrote 4 Interview Questions to See the Truth in Every Candidate, provides some useful tips. He suggests that instead of using regular interview questions where the candidate has rehearsed the answers, you should ask these four types of questions: A Story question, The Decision-Making question, The Mindset question, and The Empathy question.
Some job interview questions are:

  • Tell me the story of your career.  What inspired you to become a manager?
  • Tell me about the moment when you decided that leaving your last employer was the right path for you? What were the pros and cons?
  • Put me inside your head at the moment when you heard your company was shutting down? How did that feel? How did the people around you feel?
  • You stated you were promoted to this management position from within. How did other members of your team feel about that? How did the other members that applied for that position feel?
Topgrading Interviews

According to Geoff Smart and Randy Street, authors of Who: The A Method for Hiring, A-players are ones who have at least 90% chance of achieving a set of outcomes that only the top 10 percent of possible candidates could achieve. What this means is that you should hire people who have a least a 90 percent chance of succeeding in the role you have defined. Consequently, they suggest topgrading is the key to successful interviewing and hiring.

These are interviews which use a scorecard for every interviewer to rate the candidate. Scorecards, or competency frameworks, are developed to look at relevant competencies (e.g. leadership, communication, etc.) and skills listed on the scorecard. Topgrading interviews dig deep into an applicant’s history by asking a series of questions to help the applicant to open up.

For example, for each position listed on the applicant’s CV:

  • What did this role entail? Did the job description and interview adequately describe what you asked to do?
  • Describe some of the high points or accomplishments in that job? What were some low points?
  • What was your manager’s name? Tell me about that manager? When I talk to your manager, what will they say were your biggest strengths and areas where you need improvement?
  • As a manager, did you hire anyone? How many people did you terminate?
  • Why did you leave?

This type of interviewing is conversational and it is about the details. It is where you make candidates feel comfortable to open up about their true selves. This is where you look for honesty and integrity. It is where if something doesn’t sound right, you ask deeper questions to uncover the truth.

5 cartoon bums on a rugby post
5W (who, what, when, where, why) and an H (how) for open ended questions
How to Ask Deeper Questions

Open questions help you to probe and get much more information. For example, ‘Why did you decide to leave your previous role?’ – ‘who’, ‘what’, ‘where’ and ‘how’ are great starters to ensure you are asking open questions.  The best way to remind yourself of open questions is: ‘5 Bums on a Rugby Post’. This will help you to remember to use open questions by starting a question with either: what, where, when, who, why, and also how (the ‘H’ is the Rugby post!).

Red Flags

Here are some red flags to watch out for when interviewing:

  • Do they show up on time?
  • Did they research your company and ask questions?
  • Does the candidate really answer the question?
  • Does he or she mention co-workers, collaboration, or team? Or do they only mention what they did?
  • Did they blame others for failures?
  • Do they speak poorly of past bosses, co-workers, or where they previously worked?
  • If they said they were a previous manager, have they ever hired or terminated anyone?

Questions NOT to Ask

This is an ESSENTIAL interview tip. You should never ask questions about age, disability, gender reassignment, marital and civil partnership, race, religion or beliefs, sex, or sexual orientation. Moreover, interview questions which show discrimination should not be asked and are illegal.

Some examples of questions you shouldn’t ask are:

  • Do you have children or have plans to have children?
  • How old are you?
  • Where are you from?
  • How many sick days did you take last year?
  • What is your religion?

But you can ask these typical interview questions:

  • Do you have any current commitments which may affect your ability to do this job, or which may impact your attendance?
  • Are you over 18?
  • Are you legally eligible to work in the UK?

This is just a shortlist, but ensure you understand exactly what questions can’t be asked and what other methods you should or shouldn’t implement in your recruiting process.

Which Interviewing Method is Best?

When researching for the best interview tips and methods, which one should you use? Using a combination of all the methods listed above helps you get to know your candidate better and will provide a thorough interview. By using your job description as your baseline, you should develop a scorecard of what skills and competencies (soft skills) you want and desire for your business. Then develop your questions based upon that.
For each position you will be hiring, you should develop an interview guide and you could:

  1. Write a job description listing all the required skills and competencies (soft skills) for the role.
  2. Develop a scorecard for each position and ensure each member of the interview team has one when they are interviewing.
  3. Create some simple and basic questions you would like to ask.
  4. Write behavioural-based questions to fit the competencies you listed as the most important in the job description.
  5. Devise some top grading interview questions and cultural fit questions to dig deep into their history.
  6. Ask the candidate to tell you different stories of their career.
  7. Make a comment area on the scorecard and write down any red flags. Ask deeper questions on any red flag areas if you are still unsure.
  8. Score your applicant. Are they an A-player according to your scoring methods?

Interview Tips – Final Thoughts

You can’t rush the interview process and it will not be short or easy. You should, however, feel that you know the candidates really well by the time they leave. Also, look for patterns of behaviour and ask questions to understand their relationships with their co-workers, managers, and subordinates. Many people leave a company because of a bad manager. Ensure you make appropriate interview preparation to have systems in place when hiring good managers, which will greatly reduce turnover. Hire A-players as managers as they will want to hire A-players who will work for them. Also, take the time to investigate best practices and use these interview tips to develop good interview questions, and if something isn’t working, change it. Effective and precise interviewing isn’t difficult if you develop a standardised approach at the beginning.

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