Employer Interview Techniques

Published: Mar 10, 2009

As if the intense competition in this tight market isn't enough, the EEOC, ADA advocates, and the fear of interview "testers" make asking the right questions even more perilous today. Even the legal and HR departments have begun to mandate what questions can and cannot be asked. In this restrictive environment, how do you ask questions that will allow you to effectively evaluate and differentiate the good candidate from the bad?<p>The best approach is a three-component evaluation system. First, use common sense - only ask questions that will give you information about past job performance, skills, and personal traits which are directly related to the position you are trying to fill. Get the facts. Then ask subjective questions which will allow you to judge the person's ability to fit into your corporate culture and business situation.</p><p><em>A Three Component Evaluation System</em></p><p>Each of the three components I describe below should be equally weighted. I recommend a 0 to 33 point system for each component to net 99 points for an absolute fit. Of course, a score of 99 should not be possible since there are no perfect fits. I recommend that the low end hiring score range from 40-60. Even if one area is ZERO it does not necessarily mean a no hire decision. For example: most experienced employers have hired and successfully trained and developed a person who had no previous related experience. Some employers might want to overemphasize the "intangibles," saying "Just give me someone with intelligence, drive and ambition, and everything else will take care of itself." The purpose of this "Three Component Evaluation System" is to emphasize a balanced assessment and to provide a more quantitative method for hiring the best.~</p><p><strong>Job Fit:</strong> This is accomplished by having a good job description and qualifications statement or at least a good idea of the proposed duties and expectations. Then match the facts from the prospect's resume and responses to answers given during the interview. Basically, you are evaluating the candidate's previous experience (type of company, type of job, and accomplishments), and their demonstrated skills (e.g., use of certain computer tools, verbal and written communication, design skills, sales approaches, etc.). <strong>This component measures not so much whether a person is motivated or can do the job now, but whether the person has successfully done the job before.</strong></p><p><strong>Values/Business Fit:</strong> This area is assessed during the interview stage with some help from references (I only like to talk with former managers, supervisors, co-workers, subordinates or customers). If you understand your firm's basic business values and approaches to your customers, employees, profit, growth and other key areas, you can then ask candidates to project how they would approach problems or conflicts in these areas. In this way, you are trying to assess initiative, insight, planning, work ethic and problem resolution skills. <strong>This area assesses whether a person both can and wants to to do the job in a manner congruent with your business.</strong></p><p><strong>Intangibles Fit:</strong> Often this component is left up to an Industrial Psychologist, self-administered projective testing, or other psychometric assessments. You do NOT have to use a third party or formal testing, though there are many services and instruments available. You do not need to formulate a specific approach to assess those elements important to your decision. TRY TO QUANTIFY YOUR GUT REACTIONS. Most of your information will be gleaned from the subjective, leading, why, and other open-ended questions. <strong>This component measures personality, motivation, drive, ambition, attitude and social/people skills.</strong></p><p><em>James O. Cox has been a Certified Personnel Consultant (CPC is a certification of the National Association of Personnel Services) since 1985, in the third-party search and placement industry since 19</em></p>