At its core, an interview is research. It’s research into a person and how they could benefit your organization. Research into a new insurance provider would provide similar information. So why is interviewing so much greater an imposition?
For one, it requires interacting with others through an unbalanced power dynamic. When you are interviewing someone, they know you are responsible their future (or lack thereof) at your organization. What could have been a casual, friendly conversation is now tense and awkward. To make the situation more difficult, the information you need isn’t always clearly available. When conducting research prior to the acquisition of any other asset, you can check provider websites, aggregate review sites, message boards, and more, getting up-to-date, fact-checked data. All the information you need has already been collected. In an interview, you’re the one doing the collection.
To make interviewing new employees, from directors to counselors, a more painless and efficient process, make sure you know how to get the right information.
Step One: Figure Out What You’re Looking For
Obviously, you will be looking for different qualifications in those applying for different positions. Determine what qualities you need someone in a certain position to possess. For instance, a counselor might need to be friendly, outgoing, organized, and trustworthy. They probably don’t need to know Python, unless, of course, they’re teaching a programming course for your program. In order to find the perfect candidate, define what “perfect” means for that position.
Step Two: Figure Out How to Get That Information
Once you know what your perfect candidate looks like, you need to determine which applicants fit the mold. While interviews allow the most freedom for gaining new information, other avenues can be quite useful. If your candidate must have strong writing skills, ask for writing samples. You can discuss their verbal acuity all day, but only their writing can actually show you how they write. To determine their character and personality at work, ask for references. Speaking to previous coworkers and supervisors can give you a good idea what working with the candidate might be like. Once you have your background research done, go into the interview with questions prepared. Ask questions that result in answers to what you really need to know: can this candidate do this job. Ask about anything that raised red flags in your earlier research, try to gauge how they would fit your organization’s culture, have them explain why they’re interested in the position. Why they think they’d be a good fit.
Step Three: Organize That Information
You’ve determined what information you need and gathered it. Congratulations. Now you need to do something with it. In order to make a rational decision based on the information you gathered, you need to organize it. Make sure to take notes on relevant information you gain during interviews and prior research, and take the same type of notes for each candidate. If you commented on one candidate’s tone of voice and the other’s experience, it becomes awfully difficult to make a rational comparison.
Step Four: Make a Decision
Once you have all your interview data synthesized and know what qualities your ideal candidate needs, it’s just a matter of comparison. Memories fail, so use notes to make the best decisions. It’s difficult to compare someone you spoke with a day ago to someone from a month ago, especially when both were strangers beforehand. This is why you took notes. Look through the information you gathered and determine who best meets your criteria. Then you call them up and make their day.
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