After you’ve gone through the initial stages of compiling a list of potentially qualified and interested candidates, it’s time to process these individuals in more detail. As mentioned, it’s nice to know what you’re looking for: what’s an absolute must have vs. what’s nice to have. Some job searches hinge on ultra-specific qualifications, while others are approached with more flexibility. Look for longevity in positions, as this can be as telling as qualifications or experiences.
Even if you’re making an emergency hire, you’ll want to avoid rushing into anything, but it’s also best to move along at a reasonable pace out of respect for the candidates and to avoid losing the potentially optimum hire. Be transparent with the candidate, particularly in situations where you initiated first contact with them.
If location or salary range disqualifies you in the eyes of a candidate, keep them on file. Their parameters, or yours, could change over time.
When checking references, who you talk to is more important than what questions you ask. Ideally you’ll want to speak with a former boss. Anybody can create a short list of colleagues or customers that will speak nicely of them, but a boss is more likely to be frank and honest. Ultimately they are the ones who felt the impact of the candidate’s talents, or lack thereof. Obviously, in situations where you’ve headhunted a candidate discretion is key, and talking to their current boss will not be possible. Try to find a former boss, or even a manager to whom the candidate reported directly.
When speaking with the reference, confirm specifics. Were they in fact employed in the position they described? How did they perform, particularly in functions important to the new position? Were they strong in pertinent areas, such as business development, account management, customer service, etc.?
Other more conversational discussions can prove telling as well. Were they a hard worker? Did they outperform their colleagues? Would you rehire them?
Other background checks, such as credit history, criminal history and driving record will require the permission of the candidate and can be outsourced to third parties.
Conducting the Interview
Formulate a plan before conducting the interview. Revisit the job description and have the list of must-have experiences and qualifications at the ready so that you can be sure to dig deeper into each of those topics.
Likewise, consider which work habits and personality traits you are looking for. Many templates exist with questions designed to learn about candidates’ behavioural patterns. Having said this, make sure to bring your curiosity to the table and start a conversation, allowing the candidate to expand upon their answers and speak freely. Many candidates are savvy to the interview process and can present well in their responses to standard questions. By going deeper you’ll stand a better chance of gleaning additional insight into the candidate’s history, as well as their personality. Watch out for candidates that skirt questions or stray far off topic. Initiative is important and should come out in a good interview.
Making the Decision
Ultimately, having a new hire join your company is a major decision not only for you, but for them. Be prepared to answer their questions and treat all candidates respectfully and professionally throughout the process. Making the right hire depends not only upon understanding the candidates, but understanding your needs, so your analysis must be inward as well as outward focussing. Be aware of your wants, while also keeping an open mind.
As Albert Einstein famously said, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. If your candidate search fails to yield results, consider revising your process or seeking outside help.