When a candidate comes into a company she often has to pass through many meetings with a number of different people. The problem is, not all of these interviewers are prepared..
Because the interview is inefficient people are brought back again and again and repeatedly asked the questions they've already answered. And candidates hate that.
The number one factor in a good interview process is Structured Interviewing. That means every candidate goes through the same process. That gives you an apples to apples comparison of given candidates.
It also means that if I ask you the steps in your interview process you should be able to tell me.
Also, every interview must have a clear purpose. You know that there is something specific you have to determine about this candidate.
CREATING A PROFILE
The first thing you have to do is write down what kind of person you want.
You break the profile into 3 categories.
First, you can define a job in terms of skills.
The skills a sales person needs are an ability to play golf, cold call, write a power point and give a presentation.
A programmer needs to be able to write code, understand requirements, do a unit test, talk to customers, have experience with specific programming languages.
I don't think in terms of X number of years of experience just what they need to know how to do.
Half of the process should be about Personality Traits. You want to clarify their motivations. Why they want the job. If they fit with the team and company culture.
QUALIFICATIONS AND DETAILS
Third are Qualifications and Other Details. Like Education.
STAGES OF THE PROCESS
Then you define the stages of the process. For instance, you might have 4 interviews that you do on the phone and a take-out test. You have to know that you are going to do X number of interviews then make a decision.
For each stage you write an interview.
How do you determine if the candidate has the skills you need?
Always test for skills. That's the only way to know.
Early on you can give them an easy multiple choice test and then a more complex test when you are really interested.
Make a developer program during the interview. They might be able to answer questions but can't make stuff so you have to check it.
For Personality traits use behavioural interviews. How someone acted in the past is the best predictor of future behaviour.
For instance, the ability to handle a difficult customer.
You don't ask a general question like "How do you do X?"
I want to know what you've done. So I say:
"Tell me about a time when you handled a difficult customer."
Then follow through with detailed, probing skeptical questions.
"Why did you handle it that way. Is that the normal way you handle things.
How did they react. Why did they react so positively. Did it solve their problem?"
If you put 10 people through that same question, you'll be shocked by the range of answers you'll get. You really can uncover the true nature of how they act.
Check references to test personality.
You ask the candidate "When I call your references what are they going to tell me are your strengths and weaknesses?"
Now I have permission to call that reference up and say,
"Bob is a great guy. He told me that sometimes he has problems with long hours. Did you ever experience that?"
That's better than "Do you like Bob?".
"Would you say that Bob is more motivated by learning new technology or by shipping features?"
GETTING QUALIFICATIONS AND DETAILS
For the details just create a checklist on your website as part of the application process. Then verify them.
KNOWING YOUR PROCESS
Once you put a process like this in place, you can say,
"We are looking for these skills and personality traits.
"We are going to do a pre-screen. We're going to read the resume. We're going to do a 15 minute call."
"We're going to do an hour long phone interview.
We're going to bring him in for 3 interviews and be done."
"And for each of these interviews we're going to write questions for each of the skills to make sure that they are well covered so that once we are finished we know a lot about all of these things."
If I do this I will have a lot of data that I can rely on and trust.
And all the way through I can tell the candidate what is next.
I check salary in the first call to see if it is within range.
I tell them "I want to let you know that the budget for this role is around 80K plus or minus depending on experience.
"I don't need you to answer. I'm not trying to negotiate. I'm just trying to let you know so that we are in the same ball park and it's worth both our time."
SELLING YOUR COMPANY
You should be talking about your company all the way through the interview.
When you talk about motivations that's a great place to start selling a company.
Some people just want to program they don't want a career path to management. You have to know that.
When it comes to closing you say, "You said it was important to do X and Y.
Here's what we offer in this position."
HIRING WITHOUT EXPERIENCE
How do you test for skills you don't have? Use an outside expert.
For instance, use your network to find someone who has been a proven head of sales in a company like yours. You can give him clear instructions to test specific things.