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Secrets to Conducting a Successful Job Interview

By Rieva Lesonsky

If you’re like most small business owners, you hate interviewing potential employees almost as much as employees dread interviewing! Most entrepreneurs get stressed out about interviewing because they’re so busy they feel like they don’t have time for it, they’re shy and get nervous about talking to new people, or they just aren’t sure what to ask to do a good interview.

Unfortunately, the way you conduct an interview can make the difference between hiring the perfect employee and hiring someone who leads to nothing but regrets. Improve your chances of success by taking these steps:

  • Be prepared. Don’t try to “wing it” on a job interview. Make a list of questions you’ll ask and use the same questions on everyone—this ensures you’re comparing apples to apples when you make your final decision. Also be sure to read over the person’s resume, job application and results of any job tests you may have given them before your interview so you have a good handle on their background and abilities.
  • Allow plenty of time. Don’t rush through an interview; this is your one chance to get a good sense of the person before you offer them the job. Schedule enough time that you can relax and pay attention to the conversation.
  • Take notes. Jot down key points in the interview (it’s a good idea to use your list of questions for this). After you’ve interviewed more than one person, you’ll find them all blending together unless you keep some type of records.
  • Don’t monopolize the conversation. Some interviewers talk so much that the candidate barely gets a word in edgewise. You want the job candidate to talk a lot so you get a good feel for his or her personality. Ask questions that can’t be answered with a simple yes or no, so that the person is forced to expand on the topic.
  • Pay attention. Observe nonverbal cues as well, such as smile, dress, grooming and general attitude. If you get nervous and have trouble observing these things while you’re conducting an interview, it can help to have a second person join in the interview with you.
  • Keep it legal. EEOC guidelines prevent employers from asking questions about issues that aren’t directly related to the job. In general, stay away from asking about health issues or disabilities, whether candidates are married or have children, how old they are, and what race they are. If employees volunteer the information, don’t delve any further, and don’t use that information as a factor in your hiring decision, or you could be opening yourself up to a lawsuit later.
  • Ask if the candidate has questions. The questions a person asks in an interview (and they should ask questions) will give you a good sense of the type of employee they’d be. Do they ask about your business and its goals, or do they only ask about how much vacation they’d get?

Try these tips and you’ll find your interviews not only become more productive, but also more fun.

Image by Flickr user haymarketrebel (Creative Commons)


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