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Picking the perfect candidate: 10 tips for any interviewer

Written by Tim Morris
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How to select the right candidate for the job

Imagine how happy you are that your business is growing. You’ve set the budget, you’ve met sales targets. The next step in growing your business is hiring new staff. Does the thought fill you with dread? Do you know how to conduct an interview? Do you know how to find the right candidate for the job?

Finding the right person for the role is tricky and complicated but a vital necessity. If they’re the wrong fit and you hire them, it can take a lot of time and resources to find and onboard a new person again.

This article will help you find the right person suited to your business’ culture, teach you how to screen out the wrong people for the role, and how you can best interview them. Being able to interview and hire the right staff is a key indicator of you being a great leader in your business.

We know a lot about making great leaders thanks to our cumulative decades of business experience. If you want more training, click on through and connect with us.

Why is it crucial to find the right person from the start?

“The National Business Research Institute reported that 37% of companies who reported ‘bad hires’ claimed it negatively affected employee morale and over 18% claimed it had a negative impact on client relations.”

The fallout from hiring the wrong person for the job can be far-reaching and long-lasting. From the above quote, if it harms employee morale, you may lose key employees who think the boss got it wrong. If the hire had a bad impact upon client relationships, it takes a long time and could cost you a lot of money to repair those relationships.

Time spent training a new employee, money spent paying a new employee, who doesn’t fit, can cost the business money, reputation, lost productivity, and lost clients. It can quickly mount up into a storm of woe.

Look past the resume

Just because a candidate has a perfectly formatted resume does not make them the best candidate. Perhaps they paid someone to layout and format their resume.

Look instead at the elements of the resume and which take up the most room. Do hobbies and interests dominate? Is this to replace a lack of education or experience?

It's always a good idea to call a prospective candidate first to pre-qualify them before inviting them in for a face-to-face interview. You can get a feel for the person over the phone and see how well they match up to their resume.

Read their body language

Interviews can be unnerving and we would expect candidates to be a little bit fidgety. That is normal. But you can look for other body language signals as well.

  • The handshake - it should be firm, not flimsy. Do they look you in the eye when they shake your hand? Do they smile?
  • Eye contact - do they look you in the eye when they answer questions? Do they look away or around the room more?
  • Do they speak clearly? Or do they mumble? Do they rush their words or slur their words?

Body language is an important facet to consider when interviewing someone, but it shouldn't be a deciding factor in deciding whether or not to hire someone. Listening to what they say and how they say it, experience, qualifications, all play an important role in the complete candidate picture.

Evaluate their work ethic and attitude

Listen to how they talk, what words they use, and their unconscious reactions when you ask questions about their past employment. If their words don’t match their body language, there could be something hidden. When they say they had problems with management, were they the actual problem?

How do they feel about working longer hours if the need arises? How do you accept the answer they give? If they’re super keen to work more hours, does that sit with your ethic of work-life balance? If they hesitate when answering, are you hesitant to hire someone who may not help out when required?

Have a strong guideline around what you are looking for and especially, what your business demands. Most startups can't cater as well for a strong work-life balance as the nature of the business demands longer hours whereas a more established business might have processes in place for flexible work, for example. Be aware of what your business needs and what you are looking for before you walk into the interview.

Find out their weaknesses

Weakness is not a bad thing, you’re not trying to find ways to defeat them. Everyone has weaknesses! This step in the process is to discover if you can work with them, help them overcome their weaknesses, or turn them into strengths.

If speaking in front of an audience is a weakness, can you help them by slowly having them present ideas and strategies to the wider team? Can you help them overcome their public speaking fear?

While it can be a stereotypical question to ask candidates what their weakness is, it could be phrased in different ways instead. Whether it's a challenge they weren't able to overcome in their previous roles or something they're currently working on and improving on already. Listen to the details of the stories and experiences they share with you in their interview carefully.

Leverage reference checks

A reference check is a bit like a second interview for the potential employee. Ask questions of the referee and gauge their answer.

You know that these referees are going to say glowing things about the candidate, but there are questions you can ask about job performance or times the candidate struggled and overcame. These are the stories that could be more enlightening than something that is highly polished.

Look for someone open-minded

You want someone open to change, open to possibilities. Most small business work environments are quite dynamic and you need your candidate to be just as flexible if the need arises.

You are also looking for someone willing to take feedback and critique and who is willing to learn and grow in their role. You don’t want someone set in their ways who believe themselves to be at the top of their game, so won’t try any harder. While it's important to look for people who are the best at what they do so you can start elevating yourself out of the day-to-day business, it's important that any person realises there's always more to learn. This is called a growth mindset.

Are they a lifelong learner?

Looking for a growth mindset is all about asking if they are curious. Do they want to know more? Do they want to increase their knowledge? This can apply to work plus personal development.

Someone who knows everything they feel they need to know can be stagnant. These people may be very good at what they do, but that could be all that they do, and they’re not willing to grow.

Find someone who is willing to learn, and who may then teach others. This is a leadership quality and can help keep people excited about work.

Check their knowledge

Your candidates can talk the talk, but can they walk the walk? Give them a task to do, a real work task that sits within their skillset and the remit of the role you're looking to fill.

This gives you a great chance to see them working under real-world conditions either based on the brief or in your office. How well do they respond to your brief? What quality of work do they give back to you in and in what time frame? How do they get along with the rest of your team if they've come into the office? How well do they communicate? Do they ask for help if required?

Get feedback from staff

If you gave the candidates a trial day, speak to the staff who were with them. How a person behaves in an interview and when they think they’re not being interviewed can be very telling about that person.

This step can also make your staff feel a part of the hiring process, a part of the business. You trust their opinion enough to ask. Plus, these are the people who will be working with the candidate closest, so their opinion should count.

Trust your instinct

At the end of the day, trust your instinct. If something feels off, then don’t deny those feelings. Remember, you’re going to go through all the time and effort and paperwork to hire and pay this person, if something doesn’t feel right, then it could be a lot more trouble in the long run.

The takeaway from this article

Hiring a new employee is a balancing act between skills and experience, and personality and human connection. You may have a candidate who can talk, smile, and wants to be friends with everyone, but they may only like a small part of their role and just want the job for the sake of having a job.

You may find someone who struggles with the interview and talking with you but give them a task to do and they do it with aplomb, and then helps your staff with some other problems, while chatting away with them in the lunchroom.

The Entourage has a range of courses to help you in so many aspects of your business. We can help you Build, Lead, and Manage Teams in our exclusive short course aimed at helping you scale a vision-driven A-Team. The lessons taught in this short course will help you learn how to interview candidates to build your team, find the right people for your workplace, and nurture your current team, even in the most difficult situations. Click the image below to get access to the short course today.

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