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Assessing a candidate: The set up and the warm up

Now that you have your guidelines for interviewing in the form of a candidate- and position-specific interviewing template and you know how to evaluate their response to each of the questions you’ll ask, you’re ready for the interview.

When I interview, I have a “warm-up” question and five types of questions I use to determine the character of the candidate. Before we even begin, know that by this point, I’ve vetted the candidate’s resume and completed a background check. Now is not the time to be asking which college classes they took or if they truly have the five years of experience you need—you should know all of that beforehand. Background questions, at this point, will be used only to gauge the candidate’s response.

Here’s the general format for my interview and what I am looking for in each section.

  1. The warm-up
  2. Outlook and general attitude (including honesty)
  3. Self-management
  4. Results-focused
  5. Interpersonal Skills
  6. Integrity

The warm-up

When the candidate arrives I like to get in one of my favorite questions out right away, before the candidate even thinks the interview has started.

I always ask if they found the building okay or did they have any troubles find our office while we are still standing and getting situated.  This answer tells you if the person is positive or negative, how well they prepare, and how interested they are in the job itself.  Sometimes it opens a floodgate of information about their personality, their ability to get to work, their familiarity with the city, their living situation and other juicy tidbits about the general attitude of the candidate.

If they looked it up the day before and had no problems finding the building, then you know they prioritize preparation, use technology effectively and have no transportation issues.  If they claim this building was so hard to find or they drove by it twice and didn’t see the sign, it tells you they are a little negative and didn’t prepare very much before arriving, so either their interest in the position is low, or they just aren’t that resourceful and organized.

I then establish a time frame for the interview and the hiring process, including when they will hear back from me after the interview.  There is no strategy here, I just think clear communication throughout the process is the only way to treat a candidate with respect and represent your organization as well organized and professional.

I then say “I’m going to take some notes because there are several candidates” – to shut up chatty candidates and head off any “So will you hire me?” questions that assertive candidates like to ask at the very end of interviews.

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