How to Interview, Hire & Bring New Employees on Board
From SM, May '94, pp. 7-8

PURPOSE

  • To get accurate information during job interviews to help you hire the best and avoid the rest.
  • To fairly evaluate information obtained during job interviews.
  • To set the stage for a successful career with the company by orienting the new hire to the job, department, objectives, and co-workers.

PRE-INTERVIEW

  • Conduct a job analysis to determine the qualifications needed for the position:
  • Education
  • Previous job experience
  • Technical skills
  • Personality
  • Leadership potential

Note: Qualifications should reflect the job -- not the person who holds it. When doing the analysis, do not base your conclusions on the interests and personality of the last person who held the job, or even on the qualifications you sought last time you interviewed applicants for this position. Job needs change.

  • Look for red flags when reading resumes, like unexplained gaps on employment history, use of the word "attended" instead of "graduated" when listing education, and lack of detail about past jobs.
  • Develop a list of open-ended questions that you can ask all applicants in order to make comparisons of applicants easier. Sample questions include:
    • How would you describe your work experience at your present job?
    • What are your responsibilities at your current job?
    • What do you like most about your current job?
    • What do you like least?
    • What skills have you developed in your current job?
    • What skills do you hope to develop in this job?
    • What are some job accomplishments you are proud of?
    • What are your short- and long-term career goals?
    • What factors are most important to you when you evaluate a new job?

Note: Avoid prejudicial or potentially prejudicial questions -- anything dealing with race, religion, nationality, sex, age, marital status, or disabilities.

CONDUCTING THE INTERVIEW

Here are some general guidelines to ensure a smooth interview process:

  • Review the resume briefly before the applicant's arrival.
  • Use open-ended questions.
  • Hold the interview in a quiet, private place that is free of potential interruptions.
  • Keep a small clock on your desk; don't look at your watch (it can cause some people to tense up).
  • Use body language (like nodding your head) to encourage the applicant to talk.
  • Put the interviewee at ease by asking some "ice-breaking" questions.
  • Have a list of questions but don't limit yourself to what's on the list.
  • Use silence to give candidates time to think of their own questions and offer additional information.
  • Be specific about the job's requirements, including work hours, overtime policies, travel, etc. Never pain a dishonest picture of the job's (or the company's) prospects to convince someone to take a job; the result could be a lawsuit.
  • Test the applicant's technical competence by asking questions that require knowledge of common technical terms, and by presenting hypothetical problems and asking the applicant for a solution.
  • If the applicant is disabled, be prepared to discuss reasonable accommodations to the work per the Americans with Disabilities Act.
  • Answer honestly any questions the applicant may have about the company, the job, working conditions, etc.
  • Close the interview by being honest but tactful to those candidates not likely to be considered. Give serious candidates some idea of the length of the interview process and when they might hear from you.

POST-INTERVIEW

Once you complete the interview process, take the following steps:

  • Review any notes you took during the interviews.
  • Call two or three references for each serious candidate -- including at least one former employer. Use open-ended questions to determine how well the applicant performed in the former job.
  • Compare the information you obtained from the resume to the information you obtained during the job interview and reference checks.
  • Once you've made a selection, let other candidates know they were not chosen. Don't leave them wondering.

BRINGING A NEW EMPLOYEE ON BOARD

The process doesn't end with hiring; you have to make the new hire feel like a part of the team. Here are some guidelines to help you get the new-hire acclimated to the workplace:

  • Meet the staffers before the new-hire arrives tot tell them about their new colleague.
  • Be on hand to welcome the new-hire. Introduce him or her to co-workers by name and title.
  • Sit down with the employee and discuss the job, its relationship to other jobs in the department, the department's mission, and the standards by which the employee's work will be evaluated.
  • Requisition necessary supplies and equipment for the employee, and explain the requisition/supplies procedure to the new-hire.
  • Be prepared with one or two assignments so the new-hire can get started working right away and feel like an active part of the office.
  • Decided in advance whether to assign the new-hire a mentor or "buddy." If you do, choose someone with a positive attitude about the job and the company, as well as some previous training experience. But don't use this as an excuse to abdicate your responsibility to help the new-hire settle in.
  • Discuss special training (if any) with the new-hire and explain why the training is required.
  • At the end of the first day, visit with the new-hire to see how things are going. Find out whether he or she needs additional information, supplies, instructions, etc.
  • Monitor the employee's performance over the first few months. Even if your company doesn't have a formal probation period, the employee should be told what constitutes reasonable job progress. Both good and unsatisfactory work should be mentioned. Use this time; too, to learn from the employee new ways the work could be done. Be open-minded to the employee's ideas.

If you like this checklist, and want similar tools to help you with other critical responsibilities, let us know. We want to provide our readers with them. You can call the editor, Florence Stone, at 212.903.8075.

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