The first step in the interview process is to create your interviewing team. This could be you and the direct manager, or you and two other managers (preferably the HR manager, if you have one) who will be coworkers of the position, or it could involve someone who would be a direct report to the new position. I recommend having at least three people on the team and probably no more than six, as that can be overkill.
Before you start the process, be sure to determine who will make the ultimate hiring decision, and who has veto authority if there is not total agreement. You don’t want to have misunderstandings about how much say each person will have in the hiring process after you’ve already started. Define it up front. If it needs to be a unanimous vote, just be sure to spell it out before you start.
Finalizing The Process
Once you’ve decided on your hiring team and you’ve determined how the decision will be made, take some time to finalize the remainder of your process. Determine in advance how you’ll conduct interviews and what questions you’ll ask. This is also a good time to make decisions about other aspects of your evaluation process, including assessments and other screening tools and verification of work histories. Now you have everything in place to determine your actual interview strategy.
I once heard a hiring expert recommend a three-by-three interview strategy: three different interviews in three different places with three different people at three different times (of course for some less-skilled positions three interviews is too many, while for higher-level executive positions you might conduct more). This is a useful strategy because, let’s face it, when someone is interviewing, they’re on their best behavior. If you follow the three-by-three guideline, you’ll have multiple opportunities to glean important information about candidate behaviors: for example, how they dress on three occasions, if they are late or on time, or how they behave at a restaurant (this might be a good indicator of manners). Conducting interviews in this way also shows that you are serious about finding the right person for the position. It demonstrates value to your prospective employee because you’re clearly not willing to hire just anyone who walks in the door.
Locations: I suggest the first interview be set up at the office, the second can be at a restaurant, and the third at a coffee shop or different location at the company. Across the three interviews, you are looking for consistency as well as behavior that is aligned with your company values and the position. If someone has horrible table manners, you would not want that person in a sales position. If a candidate arrives late because of traffic, this can be an indicator of a lack of planning skills. Everything about the interviews matters. Remember, you’re evaluating behavior, and behavior is predictive of future performance.
Interviewers: The key to having multiple people interview someone successfully is to have everyone ask the same questions. Plan to develop up to ten questions for each position you are interviewing for. Each interviewer will ask the same questions and then, once all the interviews are complete, they’ll compare the answers. You’re looking for consistency in the way the interviewee answers no matter who the interviewer is and no matter what the location. It’s important to remember that the interviewing team should not get together until all the interviews have taken place. You don’t want to prejudice an interviewer before they’ve had the opportunity to conduct the interview.
Times: Interviewing at various times of the day allows you to see if your interviewees are as sharp at eight o’clock in the morning as they are at three o’clock in the afternoon.
Next week, we will look at developing great interview questions.
Excerpted from my book, “Putting Together the Entrepreneurial Puzzle: The Ten Pieces Every Business Needs to Succeed.” Available here on Amazon.