Friday, March 02, 2007

Interviewing Methodology

The goal of an interview is to determine if a candidate is qualified for an open position or future position in your company.

When interviewing candidates, you are expected to represent your company with a positive image and leave the candidate with a good impression. During an interview, you should always treat the candidate with respect even if you determine early in the interviewing process that you will not hire them. Remember, by-products of a good interview are:
Networking Opportunities – you may run into the candidate down the road during your career.
Brand Extension – each person you have the chance to tell your company’s story to may become an advocate.
Business Lead Generation – you may receive a lead to a new prospect through a candidate.
Referrals of other Candidates – the candidate may know someone qualified for another opening in the company.
Advertising – positive word of mouth about your company is invaluable.

The five key aspects of the interview process:
1. Predetermining the necessary candidate qualifications.
2. Making sure each interviewer involved in the interviewing process uses a standard list of questions.
3. Structuring your questions to uncover the necessary information.
4. Conducting a post mortem to compare notes.
5. Identifying the candidate as a “Yes”, “No” or “Maybe”.
All “Yes” candidates should have 3 reference checks completed immediately.
All “No” candidates should have specific reasons listed why they are not qualified.
All “Maybe” candidates should have a specific area that “needs more probing” identified to make a final decision. Follow up interviews should focus on the area of concern.

Behavioral-based interviewing is an effective questioning method. The candidate’s answers to these types of inquiries will reveal specific information about an area you are screening for. For example, if you want to determine if the candidate has the ability to “hold their ground” or “push back” on people that do not accept their ideas, an appropriate question would be; “…tell me about a situation you have been in where your idea was rejected by a peer or your boss”.

Technical questions are important for positions such as software developers or software testers. The types of technical questions should be specific to the candidate’s duties if hired. Or, depending on the experience level you need, technical questions can help separate academic experience from professional experience. Ideally, ask technical questions in person and not over the phone or through email. This is to eliminate the possibility of the candidate using the internet or one of their colleagues as a resource.

Use a brain teaser to help reveal how a person thinks. If problem solving is one of the aspects you are searching for, then brain teasers can be of great value. Ultimately, you want a problem solver but a close second is perseverance or resistance to giving up. Here is an example of a brain teaser: You have nine balls weighing the same, except one, which is slightly heavier. All nine balls look identical so you can not tell them apart by touch or sight. You have a balance scale that allows you to put as many balls on each side as possible. What is the minimum number of times you can weigh the balls to determine the heaviest ball?

Research projects are an effective means of evaluating communication skills, specifically writing skills. They key is to choose a topic of research to provide insight into what the candidate’s understanding is of your business.