fbpx

Productivity / Growth

Part 1: How to interview for an employee

Your business is growing and it’s time to hire your first or more employees. In this two part series, I’ll provide some useful interview tips.

By

As a Human Resources expert I’m sometimes asked to critique an interviewer. I remember one interview quite well. My client, let’s call him Joe, greeted the candidate at the door with a limp handshake, and then walked silently to the interview room. I could almost hear the candidate’s heart beating louder and louder. Joe then talked about the role before asking any questions. In general, he talked for about 90 percent of the interview.

Joe loved the candidate and offered her the role, but she rejected the offer on the basis that she did not get an opportunity to share her background.

The reality is that Joe was nervous – and it showed, so the candidate had no confidence in his leadership skills.

So what could Joe have done differently? Here are some useful tips.

1. Have structure 

All interviews should follow a similar structure, with the first part of the interview being the warm up. This is where you use small talk to build rapport and help the candidate feel less nervous. Simple pleasantries such as “Did you find us ok? Is it cold out?” will help the interviewee feel relaxed, which means they’re in a better position to share their story with you. 

"All interviews should follow a similar structure, with the first part of the interview being the warm up."

2. Delve into their career history 

Prior to the interview, review the candidate’s CV and pinpoint areas you want to probe more. 

In particular, reconcile the dates, looking for unexplained gaps. Also, look for responsibilities that are relevant to your role and delve deeper

Want more articles like this? Check out the growth section.

For example, if they’ve prepared accounts, ask them to explain exactly how they did it. You will quickly discover that there are many different versions of one task. Use ‘follow on’ questions such as “And then what did you do?” and “What were the next steps?” 

Additionally, ask what they enjoyed and didn’t enjoy about their previous roles, and why they left. 

This part of the interview should only take about 10 minutes, and at the end of it, you should be very clear about the potential employee’s background, what they have done, what they like and don’t like, and why they left their previous roles. 

3. Ask technical questions 

Many roles require some sort of technical skill, so now is the time to ask questions that specifically clarify technical expertise, or lack thereof. 

It’s useful for technical questions to often be specific and closed. For example: 

  • Can you build a PowerPoint presentation?
  • Can you use animation?
  • Can you do macros in Excel? 

At this point you might also confirm academic qualifications and results. 

Don’t forget to document 

Be sure to document everything, even if it means just writing quick points about each answer.

By following the techniques above, you’ll improve your ability to hire the best possible person for your role. In my next article I will cover behavioural questions and questions relating to the culture of your microbusiness; as well as questioning techniques and some ‘no go’ areas. 

What are your experiences interviewing people for your micro business?

Natasha Hawker

helps SMEs understand the challenges their businesses face and unlocks the mysteries of effective HR. She is the co-owner of Employee Matters and author of From Hire to Fire: Everything in Between".

Comments

126,205 people use Flying Solo to help them create a business with life. Do you?

Connect with Flying Solo

Explore the benefits of membership