Interviewing Top Talent

As a business leader, one of your biggest concerns when it comes to growing your business is finding and hiring the best talent in your industry. Interviewing candidates is a long process, and one that you want to do as well as possible. After all, with the cost associated with hiring and training new team members, there’s certainly an incentive to choose the right candidate the first time. Conducting a good interview can be just as important for a company as performing well in an interview can be for an individual.

For that matter, there’s certainly a lot of overlap between the skills necessary for interviewer and interviewee. A level of preparation is important in either case, and as a representative of a company, you’ll have to have a firm grasp on the duties and ideal skills for the job in question. Interviewers will also need to answer questions about the company, so a knowledge on company values and practices is vital to conducting an interview.

Interviewers should also take the time to learn about each candidate. In an era where social activity is often preserved on the internet, checking professional sites such as LinkedIn and other social media platforms can provide an informative cross section of a candidate’s proficiencies and temperament. If the client has a portfolio site as well, examine their past work and relate it to the position. This has the added bonus of giving you initial topics of conversation; while professionalism is necessary for any interview, asking casual questions about hobbies or interests can make candidates feel comfortable and open up more in conversation.

And that’s essentially what an interview is: a conversation. It’s necessary to keep your questions consistent between candidates in order to accurately compare them, but there’s no reason to keep the whole process on a tight schedule. If you’re asking good questions and your candidate diverges to a topic that comes to their mind, be flexible and let them speak. Don’t let this derail the course of an interview, but seeing the thought process of your potential hires can give you insight into who they are as an individual.

In order for this to happen, you have to be asking the right questions. The best questions are open ended, and often, the way a candidate responds is more important than the response itself. For instance, if you were to ask about a candidate’s ideal job, the exact job matters less than the implied career trajectory it would take to get there. This would allow you to determine if you have an individual on your hands that believes that employment at your company would move their career goals forward.

And traditional interview questions aren’t the only thing you can do to assess candidates. You’ll want to hire candidates that can solve problems for you and your company, so find a way for them to address an actual problem of yours, either verbally or on a smaller scale. Watching the way they handle themselves when working is a great indicator of the kind of employee that they might be.

Though you want to focus largely on the candidate’s skills, personality, and qualifications, you’re also trying to sell your company to prospective talent. Give them enough information to make them curious, and answer their questions as well. This is something that can be done outside of interviews; companies can attract talent through a strong online presence. The key is to find a happy medium between over- and under- sharing; if it sounds too much like you’re trying to talk up your company, candidates may believe that you’re hiding something. Transparency is important when it comes to disclosing the right amount of information.

After the interview, it is both polite and helpful to follow up with a candidate, regardless of whether or not you’re giving them serious consideration for a position. It shows respect for the candidate’s time and is likely to give them a better impression of your company. Providing feedback if requested is also a great way to build lines of communication and potentially open doors further down the line.

For interviewers, it’s important to realize that the hiring process has evolved beyond a resume and “where do you see yourself in five years?”. Now, with the interconnectivity of the modern world, strong communication is crucial for attracting and finding the best talent to propel a company forward.

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