This is the one of my first posts because it is ultimate the most important topic for any manager. Even if you are taking over an established team or are not currently hiring, DO NOT skip this post. You will at some point be in a capacity to hire directly or to influence the hiring decisions and you’ll wish you hadn’t skip it.
When beginning the hiring process you will likely first get a stack of resumes to sift through. If you receive resumes electronically, kill a tree and print them out. Grab a highlighter and identify the skills and traits about the individual that align with your team’s goals and needs. Be critical. If you need someone with a high attention to detail, but the resume is lousy with spelling and grammar errors, make a note of that. As you go through the resume try to paint a picture of what this individual would look like on your team. Are they motivated? Do they have a clear career path? Are they confident or insecure? These are all things you should be able to gather by reading between the lines of their resume.
Once you’ve identified the resumes with which you want to proceed forward, search their name on the World Wide Web. Look them up on LinkedIn and Facebook. An individual’s personal life can be a huge insight into their work ethic, integrity and responsibility level. I’m sure your mom or dad has told you, “never judge a book by its cover”. This is absolutely not true when it comes to the hiring process. Let me be clear, by no means should you EVER discriminate based on age, disability, race, religion, gender or sexual preference. But by all means judge everything else. How do they carry themselves with their friends? Are they respectful of their parents, law enforcement or other leadership authorities? Do they like the same music, movies or books you do? Make note of those things. This is the individual that you will be spending 8 hours or more 5 days a week. You should never hire someone solely because they like the movie Tommy Boy or read Ready Player One, but if all things being equal with other candidates, you may enjoy spending more time working with and managing this individual.
Now comes the interview process. Schedule an hour to really get to know the candidate. This way you will not feel pressure to blow past questions or cut the candidate off – let them ramble – they may say something very telling.
The day of the interview requires a bit of planning. Since most offices allow shorts and a t-shirt to be worn, you will want to dress up this day. Your presentation is just as important as the candidate’s presentation. First impressions are hard to overcome and this is your future employee’s first impression of you – don’t screw it up! They took time and thought when preparing for this interview, so should you; it’s just the respectful thing to do. Show the candidate that this 1-hour meeting is just as important to you as it is to them.
Have a list of questions you want to ask them. Ask questions about their work ethic, problem solving skills, position specific skills, hobbies, etc. Here is the list of questions I ask. Feel free to poach some or all of these questions.
· What interests you in this position?
· What is your experience level with ____?
· What were the responsibilities at your last job?
· Give me an example of a time that you felt you went above and beyond at work.
· What irritates you about other people, and how do you deal with it?
· Give me an example of a time you made a mistake. How did you handle it?
· Describe how you would handle a situation if you were required to finish multiple tasks by the end of the day and there was no conceivable way that you could finish them all.
· How would you describe your work style?
· What techniques and tools do you use to keep yourself organized?
· Who was your favorite manager and why?
· What are three positive things your last boss would say about you?
· What do you like to do for fun?
· What do you like and dislike about our company?
· If you could choose one superhero power, what would it be and why?
· Why is a manhole cover round?
My favorite question of this list is “Who was your favorite manager and why?” This question can be very telling about their personality, but more importantly, if you hire this person you will want to manage in this manner to be truly effective. The answer to this question may be just as important, if not more important, than any management book you’ll ever read (except this one).
As you ask the above questions, or your own set of questions, make eye contact and observe body language. If their eyes shift down or change seating positions as they talk about a specific topic they might not be very comfortable with the topic. If their eyes look up, they are thinking deeply about the answer before speaking. If they maintain eye contact, they either don’t think before they speak, are very confident in the topic or have been coached in interviewing. If they cross their arms they may be disinterested or hiding something. If they lean in, they are highly interested and usually hungry to learn.
Finally, although not technically “body language”, you’ll want to make note of how many questions they ask. If they don’t ask any questions, either you did an amazing job drafting the posted job description or they haven’t given the position much thought. If they ask too many questions they could be eager to learn or a slow learner. If the later, they usually will ask a question that has previously been answered.
At the end of the interview, you’ll want to privately score them. Remember, just because someone is good at interviewing doesn’t mean they are the best person for the job. Someone can be shy and fumble over their answers, but still be a great fit for your team (unless, of course, you’re hiring for public speaking or a sales position).
If you have additional interviews scheduled, don’t make a decision until all interviews are completed. Once the set of interviews are completed you can go back to your notes and hire the best person for the role.