When you’ve narrowed down your list of potential hires to a manageable number, it’s time to schedule face-to-face interviews. Here’s your chance to make a good hire, so use this time to learn as much as you can about the candidate.
Be a good listener
When it comes time to ask questions, consider asking all your questions at once. This accomplishes three things:
First, you’ve passed the baton. You’ve asked the questions; now the candidate must respond.
Second, this strategy confronts the most common problem in interviewing: not listening enough.
Third, it forces you to listen. Asking all your questions and then following up later allows you to settle back and watch the candidate’s behavior as well as listen to his or her words.
Adapt a half-dozen questions that fit your style, but ask them all at one time as a series. Consider such questions as:
- What would your former employer say about you, both positive and negative?
- What would your former subordinates say about you?
- How do you recognize incompetence?
- How do you recognize excellence?
- What about yourself would you like to improve most?
- What makes you lose your temper?
When you’re satisfied you’ve heard enough in response, begin closing the interview. Announcing, “We have about five more minutes…” is a useful way to initiate closure.
Pay attention whenever a candidate says, “By the way…,” “Oh, one more thing…,” or “I almost forgot…,” all of which usually mean, “This is the most important thing I’m going to say.”
Post interview strategies
If you are still interested in the candidate, schedule a final interview to talk about potential problems. It’s never a question of if problems will arise with a new hire; it’s more one of what those problems will be. If you haven’t discovered any, you’re missing something.
The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. If a person was great with people, but weak with details in his or her last three jobs, you can predict their future behavior accordingly.
Here’s a simple and effective reference check. Call references during their lunchtime – you want to reach an assistant or their message service. If it’s an assistant, be sure that he or she understands the last sentence of your message. Say something like: “John is a candidate for (the position) in our practice. He gave us your name as a reference. Please call me back if he was an outstanding employee.”
The results can be revealing. If the candidate is outstanding, the references will respond quickly and want to help. However, if only one or two of the references returns your call, this message is also loud and clear. At the same time:
- No derogatory information has been shared.
- No libelous statements have been made.
- No confidences or laws have been broken.
Always ask candidates, “What am I likely to hear – positive and negative – when I call your references?
This allows the candidates to alert their references to your inquiry. It’s fair, because it tells them you will be checking their references in depth, and it gives them a chance to tell their side of the story.
Nothing you do in your practice is more important than selecting the right people to work with you.