Using a blended interview format for better outcomes

Interviewing techniques are all over the place – each hiring manager has their own style whether learned, imparted upon or self-created.  I will assert that for the most part, you are interviewing from the job description and evaluating candidates based primarily on the bullet points in this description.  Or, on the other end of the spectrum, you don’t have a job description and are taking the ‘window shopping’ approach – you’ll know it when you see it – but you haven’t identified what ‘it’ looks like.

Try this: interview from where you want to end up and work backward.  In other words formulate a picture in your mind of the ideal person for the position and then write a bulleted description of that person without the aid of the official job description.

1.    Technical skills – in my experience, most job descriptions detail every conceivable technical skill that a candidate might have, when in fact only 3-5 of these are absolutely critical to the role.  Ask yourself this question:  What are the 3 technical skills this person must have in order to do this job?  All others are nice to have, but not essential.
2.    Cultural fit – Take some time to identify the personality of the team you are hiring for.  Company culture holds some weight here, but it’s more important to identify a candidate who will play well with their teammates and who will like coming to work every day because they are around people that they enjoy spending time with.  Is your group a bunch of practical jokers?  Do they like going out to lunch together?  Is their creative energy better in the morning?  You may not think these are important – but happy people are more productive – you already know that.
3.    Filling gaps – A new hire gives you an incredible opportunity to fill gaps that currently exist on your team.  Maybe you’d like to find someone with a good eye for data – to help a team that will be tackling a large system migration in the coming year.  Maybe you need someone who has experience with sales and marketing because your department’s relationship with the sales team is not as strong as you’d like.  Here is your chance – be opportunistic!
4.    Education and Community – How important are extraneous items like community involvement and continuing education to you?
5.    Interview agenda – take the time to develop an outline for your interview.  Part I: Candidate history – these are the details – high level – education, work history, reason for leaving, explanation of any gaps. Part II: Drill down on specific areas of interest.  Part III: Behavioral questions – identify 3-4 questions that will help you quantify their character.  “Tell me about……”, or, “if you weren’t in this profession what would you be doing?”, are revealing questions.  What you are after here are gut level responses.  Part IV:  About the company and about the role.  Ask the candidate to tell you what they know about your company.  Then ask them to explain to you their understanding of the position.  Part V:  Candidate questions.  This is my favorite part of the interview.  When a candidate is truly interested, engaged and smart they will bring really great questions to the interview.  The kind that make you think – “wow that’s a great question!”  In my mind, this entire agenda will take about 1 hour if you stay on track.
6.    Pre Interview. Take time to review the candidate’s resume just prior to your interview, noting areas that you want more information about and specific questions you want to ask.
7.    Post Interview.  Make notes immediately.  Waiting even 1 hour will dilute your recall of the meeting.  What did you like?  What didn’t you like?  Where does the next interviewer need to focus?  What are your outstanding questions?

By defining your interview approach up front, and by working from the ideal candidate backward when you are filling an open position on your team you’ll be able to recognize your next hire when you meet him/her.  Without a structured method, you might miss a great hire – and they will end up working for your competition.  Until next month….

For more information on hiring great talent – and getting hired – visit us here.

About the Author:

Kimberly Lucas is the Founder and Chief People Connector at Goldstone Partners, Inc., a Colorado-based search and talent advisory firm specializing in recruitment strategy and engaged search for privately-held companies. As a seasoned entrepreneur and career coach, Kimberly is committed to helping founders build strong, profitable companies that stand the test of time. As a Certified StrengthsFinder coach she works with individuals and teams to help them achieve their stated objectives. Kimberly is an active mentor for MBA students at the University of Colorado’s Leeds School of Business, serves on the board of the Rockies Venture Club, is a founding member of RVC Women and facilitates a Thinking Partner Mastermind group.