How to run an effective interview and find the right team member

May 13, 2021

As a corporate leader or business owner, hiring a new team member is a big upfront investment of time and money.

There’s the initial interviews, selection process and onboarding.

Then significant time spent on training — before you ever see the ROI.

This week’s article is the second in a series on how to hire. The first article outlined what you can do before hiring anyone to make sure you build the right team. Especially if this is your first ever hire.

A question from a client looking to find a new employee for her business inspired today’s article. She asks:

I have some interviews lined up with potential candidates. How can I best prepare, get the most out of these conversations and find the right person?

It’s critical to get the interview process right so you don’t make costly mistakes or waste time.

In this article, you’ll learn 9 simple but important steps to help you run an effective interview process and find the right person for your team.

STEP #1 — PREPARE IN ADVANCE

As a busy leader or business owner, hiring a new team member can be a substantial investment of your time. To make sure you get the most out of the interview process (and ultimately find the right person), do some preparation in advance.

Prepare a list of standardised questions to ask all applicants. Review each individual’s resume and LinkedIn profile ahead of time and make a quick note of anything specific you want to ask them.

If you have HR or a recruiter within your organisation or business supporting you, it can be tempting to leave the process to them. Don’t fall into this trap! Remember, you want to make the most of the time you’re investing into these conversations.

At least review or have input into the interview questions they prepare. And make the effort to do a quick review of each resume and jot down a couple of unique questions of your own before the interview.

STEP #2 — SET THE TONE

As the hiring manager or business owner, it’s up to you to take the lead and set the tone of the interview. Even if you have HR or another team member attending with you.

I recommend keeping the meeting more relaxed and conversational. This takes the pressure off the person you’re interviewing and allows them to be themselves. It’s the best way to gauge someone’s true personality and figure out if they’re the right fit for your company and team.

STEP #3 — WHAT ARE THEY LOOKING FOR?

This is a helpful question to ask at the start of the interview to identify an individual’s fit for your role, team and organisation.

Do their career aspirations align to the opportunity on offer? Would they work well with your management style and other team members? Are they a good cultural fit for your company?

STEP #4 — WHY ARE THEY INTERESTED?

This question reveals a lot! It allows you to more closely assess whether their skills, experience, goals and areas they wish to develop are right for the role. Are their personality and values a match for your organisation and team?

Both questions open up the conversation to other areas you may want to explore further or any specific concerns you wish to address. They also reveal drivers — so you can match back the benefits of the job, team and company to what they’re after.

STEP #5 — WHAT MAKES THEM A GREAT FIT?

Next, give them a rundown of the role including key responsibilities and what you’re looking for. Then, ask them to give you an overview of their relevant experience. Ask — what makes YOU a great fit for this position?

The beauty of this question is it gets the person you’re interviewing to talk about their appropriate skills and experience. It also gives the interview structure, helps both parties get to the point and save time.

Compare this to ‘tell me about yourself…’ a classic introductory interview question. It’s incredibly vague — and triggers a long-winded, non-specific response.

Asking the candidate to address what you’re looking for takes the pressure off them having to figure out what to share. Instead, they know exactly what skills, experience and strengths to discuss to highlight their suitability. Plus, you get greater clarity on their competence — and quickly.

STEP #6 — SHARE THE BENEFITS

Interviews are a two-way conversation. Remove the expectation it is the candidate’s job to ‘sell themselves’ to you. It’s equally important for you to highlight the benefits of the opportunity to them!

Pay particular attention to what they said they were looking for (Step 3) and WHY they were interested in the role (Step 4). Confirm you offer this. Show them why the role is so enticing and highlight the positives: your team, culture, leadership style, flexibility — a great boss!

Recruiters are already reporting skill shortages are starting to emerge in many markets. And with less migration and overseas applicants, the market will continue to tighten. So this one is critical!

STEP #7 — SHOW INTEREST

Ask each applicant specific questions about them. Use the unique questions you prepared ahead of the meeting or anything which comes up in conversation. Address any concerns, enquire about their experience or something on their resume you’re curious about.

This shows you’re interested, gives you further information and helps you make the right hiring decision.

STEP #8 — WHAT QUESTIONS DO THEY HAVE?

This is a fantastic question to ask towards the end of the interview. You can tell a lot about commitment, motivation and interest from this one!

Did they bother to prepare any questions in advance? What are they asking about? This often reveals their drivers, which you can speak to or explore further.

Are they asking about progression opportunities? This may indicate they’re highly motivated or ambitious. If they mention flexibility, it’s an opportunity for you to highlight any benefits on offer.

Is their first question about pay or holidays? It’s unlikely this will leave you with a positive first impression!

STEP #9 — CONFIRM NEXT STEPS

At the conclusion of the interview, let them know what to expect. Share the next steps in the process. Will there be further interviews, reference checks, psychometric assessments or anything else they need to be aware of?

Also confirm timeframes. When interviews will conclude, when you’ll be making a decision and they can expect to hear back from you. Be sure to honour these timeframes, get back to them as promised and give meaningful feedback.

One of biggest criticisms from job-seekers is they invested time into an interview — and never heard back. Or received an automatically generated ‘unsuccessful’ email without any constructive feedback to help them improve. When you consider the time an average candidate spends on their job application, interview preparation, travel and time attending the interview, this frustration is understandable.

Don’t leave yourself (or your organisation) open to negative feedback because you were too busy or forgot to get back to them. Even if this individual is not the right fit for this position, you may wish to keep them in mind for opportunities in future. Plus, people talk!

You’ve also invested a lot of time into this process, so make the most of it.

Finally, never rely on HR. By all means, let them manage the process or send feedback on your behalf. But as the hiring manager or business owner, it’s your responsibility to make sure the communication happens — and in the timeframes agreed.

Building a team is one of the most challenging roles you have as a leader. These tips have helped my clients secure the right people to grow their teams and businesses. I hope they support you too.

Want help to develop your leadership skills as you build your team or business? Book your free initial 30 minute consult HERE to get started!

Stacey Back is a Career Strategist, Leadership Coach + Founder of Profile Careers. She helps high-achieving corporate leaders and business owners at a mid-career crossroads find the work that lights them up, increase their income, impact and create a career + life on their terms.

Stacey also supports professionals to transition from their corporate job into their own consulting business. She works virtually with individuals based across the globe.