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HR Best Practices: Successful Hires Come from Effective Interviews

5 Screening and Interview Tips to Hire the Right Candidates

Finding the right candidate for a job opening at your company can prove challenging. It’s not always easy to find the right person with the right experience, qualifications, and personality to fit smoothly into the role and your company’s culture. Add in the extra challenges of a labor shortage and virtual recruiting, which becomes even more difficult. At the same time, hiring the wrong person for the position, or prolonging the interview process, can cost you time and money; a position left open for any length of time can affect your bottom line.

The obvious solution is to find the right candidate the first time around. The best way is to conduct the best candidate prescreen and interview. Here are five tips for doing so:

  1. Make Sure You Know Exactly What You’re Looking For

    Before you begin the interviewing process, you, or someone with a specialty in recruiting and hunting for talent, will need to post the position on the appropriate job boards AND source for potential candidates by marketing and selling your open position to passive candidates. Before you post a job advertisement and start proactively sourcing for talent—you and your recruiter (someone with a candidate database and the ability to sell) should know exactly what you’re looking for. Outlining desired qualifications (education and skills training), experience (years in the industry or field), and competencies/behaviors (skills and personality) and putting them down in a job description will help you both narrow the scope of your search. Share with the recruiter the needed qualifications and experience (what should be on the resume or LinkedIn profile for them to reach out to that candidate) and what competencies, behaviors, and personalities they will uncover on the first phone screen, which will create better first-round interviews for you. Competencies and behaviors are often not apparent on a resume or LinkedIn profile. Your recruiter should be able to help you qualify or disqualify candidates and applicants for positions on a phone screen before getting to a first-round interview stage.

    An often-overlooked aspect of finding the perfect candidate is their fit with the company. As employees emphasize culture more, this cannot be overlooked in the prescreening and interview process. Ask candidates what work environment they are looking for and what they value at work. Determine if their answers align with the company’s values and workplace. If they’re not, as much as they might seem like the perfect hire, it will not work in the long run.

  2. Refuse to Settle but Prepare to Train

    Another critical preparation for finding the right talent is a resolve to identify the best trainable candidate. Note that the choice of word—a “trainable candidate”— is not the “perfect candidate.” While you desire a perfect candidate who meets all your expectations satisfactorily, settling for specific and unobtainable experience and qualifications alone may increase the risk that the candidate will not fit into your company, and you will end up interviewing for the position all over again. Filling the position with the needed skillset is essential but finding the right person the first time is equally important. To get the culture piece right for the company and the candidate, you may need to flex your expectations on what their resume must look like. In the extra weeks, months, and dollars that you spent searching for “the perfect candidate,” you could have trained someone up to the role you need and even increased engagement and retention for the new employee and potentially others on your team in the meantime.

  3. Outdated Resumes and Outdated Methods

    Some HR professionals and hiring managers speed through a candidate’s resume during screening or even right before their interviews and automatically disqualify potentially qualified talent. That is a mistake. Relying on a resume alone in this labor market is one of the biggest mistakes that HR or a hiring manager can make. Quality phone screen results can hold more weight than an outdated resume if there are carefully crafted prescreening questions. Why? The best candidates for your position are currently working and do NOT have a perfectly prepared resume at this stage in the recruiting process. They are not actively seeking a new job and will not have an up-to-date resume to share with you at the screening stage. Take the time to review the resume carefully, but more importantly, build a relationship with your recruiter so that they can cover detailed and helpful phone screen questions for you. Not only do you want your recruiter to accurately pitch/sell your open position in the best way, but recruiters can also be particularly good at screening interested talent for you and delivering those that hit the mark to you for review. While reviewing the resume and phone screen results, you can make an initial assessment of skills and experience and look for any inconsistencies or any strange omissions you want to gather more information on in the first-round interview.

    Examining their screen and resume ahead of the interview gives you an opportunity to prepare the right behavioral interview questions to really help you understand their work experience, competencies, and skills. You can ask specific questions about their successes and struggles.

    Have a list of questions prepared ahead of time to keep the conversation on course so you can gather the information you need to make a good decision about the candidate. But keep questions minimal if possible—allow your candidate to do most of the talking.

  4. Be Clear to Candidates on What You Expect

    An important insight to remember about the interviewing process is that it is a two-way street. As much as the candidate is trying to impress you, you need to be working equally as hard to impress them. If you make an offer, you want the candidate to be excited to accept and not to have second thoughts or to consider other offers or even a counteroffer from their current employer.

    You should always present yourself as professional. Remember that you are a representative of the company. Making your expectations clear through every step of the interviewing process will help set the stage for professionalism. If you expect candidates to bring their resumes to the in-person interview, ensure they understand your expectations. You don’t want to surprise your candidates or appear inconsistent, and you don’t want to dismiss perfectly qualified candidates who fail to meet your unclear instructions.

    At the same time, by being clear in your instructions, you can weed out candidates who can’t follow directions, saving you time.

  5. Follow Up

    It’s only fair to give a timeframe for the next steps in the process. Then, follow through on the timeline. Even if a candidate you’ve interviewed doesn’t make the cut, you should reach out and tell them directly. Thanking them for their application will build goodwill, preventing them from complaining about the company to future potential candidates and maintaining a connection with them if a position they are better suited for opens.

    An interview shouldn’t be an interrogation but a time for an interactive conversation to gauge skills and fit for a position. It should be a conversation: friendly, calm, and organic. Creating a hostile environment for the candidate will drive potential perfect employees away. Instead, listen more than you talk and let the conversation feel natural and smooth.

    It can help to start with small talk and then branch out to open-ended questions. Remember that behavioral interview questions assessing past performance are the best predictors for future performance and how a candidate will perform once at your company.
    And finally, even if you are sure you have the right person for the job, conduct a final interview to clear up any last-minute questions and to understand what they’re looking for, so you can be sure you have the right person.

OneDigital can help you streamline your interview process to find the perfect person for any position within your organization. Attracting and retaining those candidates, however, requires a good benefits plan. This recent article explores 5 Excellent Benefits to Offer Employees in 2023.