4 Essential Elements to Conducting an Effective Employee Interview

by Christina Galoozis

Hiring the wrong person at your small business can be devastating. Besides the time and effort to find a replacement, some human resource experts estimate the rehiring process can cost up to two to three times the salary of the open position. How can you make sure you hire right the first time?

Conducting effective interviews is a start. But as a small business owner, you’re no human resources guru, and may not know what to ask—or what to make of a candidate’s answers. Here are some tips from the experts:

•Keep quiet. In an interview, the potential hire should speak 80% of the time, and you should speak 20% of the time—this is how you’ll get to know the candidate. “You may want to rescue a candidate who is struggling to come up with an answer in order to move on to the next question, but this won’t help you get the answers you need. Let silence fall,” says Andrea Ballard, director of human resources at a Seattle-based accounting firm. And if they cannot come up with an answer to a question, prod them further; some candidates just need more time to come up with an example. If they still can’t answer your question, maybe you have uncovered an individual who doesn’t have enough experience or doesn’t possess the traits you’re looking for, says Ballard.

•Do it more than once. The best way to evaluate a potential working relationship with someone is to meet them a second or third time. Have other people in the business meet them, think about how your customers would react to them, and maybe even make that second or third meeting over a meal. “Getting people in a more casual environment can bring out things you may not have seen in a more formal setting,” says Carolyn Powell, an independent human resources consultant in Mendham, N.J.


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