Last month I wrote and article aimed at candidates to help enrich their interview prowess and land that perfect position.  This month I’m turning my focus to you employers out there – be it a corporate hiring manager or small business owner.  Before the heat of the hiring season kicks off in January, the timing is good for a brush up on these skills.  I’ve put them into 9 Best Practices.  Indeed there are best practices that dramatically benefit you when it comes to the recruiting and hiring process!  Whether you work with a professional recruiting firm or you prefer to handle every detail yourself, this information will prove helpful to you.  I start from the point at which you realize it is eminent that you will need to make a hiring decision.  Let’s get started…

Preparation

1)  Make sure you have a Job Description for your position

I can’t tell you how much this one, easy step can help clear up a nightmare of misinformation.  If you personally cannot articulate the Job Description with details and intended results for the position, how are candidates supposed to map their strengths to your position?  Although not the primary subject in this article, I would highly recommend if you need help in creating a Job Description you do it.  There are many posts on LinkedIn and resources you can search via Google that will help you.  The point is, you need one.  It will save you (and/or your agency) plenty of heartburn getting the right applicants.  Something less scientific to do would be to take your best employee currently in that position and create a description and performance threshold based on that individual.

2)  Decide how you want to recruit candidates

Today, the options are many when it comes to recruiting candidates.  There once was a time when you placed an ad in the paper.  Now, most options are online via job boards and/or social media and good ole Craigslist.  One thing for sure, these options will get you applicants.  If your goal is to get as many applicants as possible, this should work for you.  The biggest problem is they likely will not be the right applicants for your position (see #1 on Job Description) and there could be plenty of valuable time wasted by the manager/business owner.  For some businesses that have Human Resources or a formal screening process in place to pre-interview candidate via phone or in person this time can be minimized.  However, if you don’t have a screening process or HR personnel to sift through the resumes, you would be better served to minimize as much of your time as possible by hiring an outside agency.  There is a fee involved, but many times the fee is far better than cost of your time to screen applicants.  Many consultants and experts agree that if you have not received formal HR or personnel management skills, you should hire a professional.  As Red Adair said, “If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur.”

3)  Make a list of the standard questions to ask all candidates

Whether a phone interview or live interview, you should have your list of standard questions.  Again, you want to map the candidates relevant skills to the Job Description and performance metrics of your best employees currently in that role.  Pre-prepared questions will help you be standardized and control the interview better.

4)  Prompt contact with applicants

So we are at the point where applicants are coming in.  If you are receiving the applicants via email or fax, it is nice to acknowledge receiving the information (not mandatory, but a nice touch).  You may only choose to reach out to the candidates who seem to have the minimum requirements for your position.  If you’ve hired an outside agency, it is imperative that you contact the candidate as soon as possible, but not more than 48 hours should pass.  Remember, candidates applying for your position likely have applied for other positions.  If they are a good candidate, likely they will be contacted right away by another employer.  It’s important here to note that just because you have a position to fill, does not give you superiority in the hiring process.  While you have the final say who gets your position, the process is a carefully choreographed dance.  Treat candidates as if they are a guest in your home.  The old adage applies to you, the employer, as well…”You Never Get A Second Chance To Make A First Impression”.  Some first impressions candidates receive may have them lose interest in your position.  Now, more than ever candidates are doing their research on you (your company or business) before the interview.

5)  Live Interview Final Preparation

So, we are now at the point where you have the candidates you’d like to bring in for a live interview.  It is imperative that you review each resume for candidates you will be interviewing.  You want to make notes on the resume where you may need clarification or need to ask questions about experience or credentials.  Please do not try and “wing it” during an interview, even as an employer.  Trust is being established during this process and remember that candidates are interviewing you as well during this time.  You’ll want to secure a good location for the interview.  This could be at your office, or in a public place, but make sure it is quiet and free from distractions.  Lastly, you’ll want to schedule the amount of time needed for a successful interview.  Some experts believe that no less than 30 minutes should suffice, but likely an hour is typical.  Schedule yourself a break in between interviews to go over your notes and give your brain some rest.  For example, if you have 4 candidates you’re interviewing, you do not want to schedule one every hour.  Instead schedule 90 minutes between to give yourself time to use the restroom, check your phone and review your notes.  Trust me…you’ll be wiped out if you actively communicate for 4 hours in back to back one on one interviews.

Interview Day

6)  Run on time

Yes, that’s right, stay on schedule.  We expect punctuality and even dismiss candidates for tardiness, so why shouldn’t we uphold the same expectation as employers?  Again, it’s about respect and “the dance” of creating trust.

7)  Start with Small Talk

Let’s face it…you will spend more time with candidates that you identify with.  Spend a few minutes getting to know the candidate, not acting like a disapproving teacher waiting for a moment to pounce.  This few minutes of time could tell you more about the candidate than their resume and answers to your questions could.  They expect questions about their experience, not questions about their life.  I’m not suggesting you ask personal questions as there is such a thing as Labor Laws.  I’m just suggesting that candidates will reveal a ton of information freely without prompt.  Try it…

8)  Follow your questions

The main reason for preparing a list of questions specific to the position and on the candidate’s resume is that you want to control the flow of the interview.  This also helps you avoid your interview going sideways and not keeping consistency amongst your candidates.  I’d be lying if I told you that I’ve never fallen victim to this by liking a candidate from the onset and letting them go much longer talking about what they wanted to instead of what I wanted to.  If you’re doing most of the talking in an interview, you need to apply the Law of Proportion in that you were given two ears and one mouth…use them accordingly.  Not to be trite, but you should ask questions to get the candidates talking, not yourself.

9)  Take notes

You want to jot down notes of your candidate to help you remember details about the how the interview went.  What you noticed about their appearance, what questions they asked, successes they were most proud of, etc.  This will also help you decide which candidates move on to the next step of the process or that you will likely decline.  This will also help you make a decision between a candidate you really like or one that may be better suited for the role in which you’re hiring.  We can’t always have both.  I urge you not to just hire candidates you identify with as the sole qualification.

After The Interview

You may feel compelled to make an offer at the time of interview.  I caution this only because you may need time to review your notes and see if the candidate will follow up with you.  Remember…it’s a dance.  That said, I would make sure not to let more than 48 hours lapse before continuing to the next step, be it an interview or working interview.  Candidates applying for your position are looking for an offer.  Communicate to all candidates who were interviewed, regardless if they moved on or not.  It’s common courtesy to communicate to candidates post interview, even it’s not good news.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, most of the work of interviewing is done before and after the actual live interview.  Like most things in life, one must prepare well to have the desired results they’re looking for.  At Dental Team Finder we are so compelled to help our clients/employers exceed the mark that when we submit a candidate for live interview we post a list of suggestions for success at the bottom of each email.  This helps us both be successful in hiring the best candidate for their position.  Without a doubt, the most effective practice is good communication with the candidates.  I hope this information has proven valuable to you.  There is nothing news-worthy here, but a series of practices I’ve learned, and others have taught to me, along the way.  Don’t forget…it’s about “the dance”.  Good hiring to you in 2016!