Gábor Till

about engineering leadership

Hire the right person

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Gábor Till
Gábor Till
5 min read

Interviewing is a long and expensive process. Finding the right person requires a lot of preparation that many companies and people do not take seriously enough. The following guide can help you and your company to conduct a well-thought-out interview process.

Before the interview

Spend some time thinking about the job

Focus on what the most important skills are to be successful in the position. Describe what success looks like after a certain period of time, e.g., a year. For inspiration, think about the people who have been in that position before. What skills made them successful or unsuccessful?

Two heads are better than one

When making any big decision, it is essential to seek advice from others. Experts also recommend that candidates should be interviewed by more than one person, but not too many. Invite a few trusted, experienced colleagues to help with the interview.

Have a rating system

It is easy to be tempted to compare candidates based on the initial impressions of each interviewee. If there are no pre-agreed criteria, you can make the mistake of choosing someone who is sympathetic but not the best choice for the job.

Selecting the most skilled candidate may seem like an obvious choice. But what if the most qualified candidate, still not qualified enough for the job? What if a candidate's personality is more important for us than their current qualifications?

An effective evaluation measures each candidate in each factor and compares them against our set of criteria. Analyze the candidates against this standard, then against each other, before you discuss selection. This system helps us to see objectively and focus on the characteristics we think are most significant.

Study the candidate before the interview

Preparation is always critical, and when you have the information available, it is easier to focus on the deeper details. Study the candidate's resume and LinkedIn profile before the interview.

How to behave as an interviewer

One of your goals should be to help candidates to be at their best.

Reduce stress

Applicants find their interview stressful because of the many unknown factors. What questions will they ask? How many people will be at the interview? What should I wear? Will I be too tired after work for the interview? Just to name a few of the questions that might arise.

Since people don't perform as well when they are stressed, I suggest you inform them in advance. Meet the person at a time that suits them. Share in advance what you will be talking about, who will be present from your side, and what you will be wearing.

Be nice

Smiling, nodding, leaning forward and other similar non-verbal gestures make candidates feel comfortable. The more comfortable they feel, the more information you get from them, and this makes decision-making easier.

Be a good listener

The interviewees are usually nervous and if we are calm, we may talk too much, even though we are interviewing them. Let them talk.

How to interview

Prepare questions

At this point, you should be clear on what are the most important characteristics of the ideal candidate. Write down the questions that help you to highlight these points, so you can get the most out of the time.

Take notes

After a while, it is easy for the candidates' answers and behaviour to become a bit blurred, especially if you are doing plenty of interviews.

Interview structure

Break the ice

To relieve the tension, start the conversation with a few minutes of relaxed chit-chat. You can ask about the weather, traffic, or other general topics. Then explain how the interview will take place.

Introduction

Introduce yourself briefly to the candidate, then ask him or her to do the same, but in more detail, focusing on the things that are most influential to you.

Questions

Most of the interview should be spent asking specific behavioural questions based on the criteria you have outlined. One advantage of asking how they behaved is that it is very difficult to exaggerate or fake the answer. Another advantage is that the answers can be double-checked.

Don't waste your time on questions such as: What are your strengths and weaknesses? Take real examples and ask the candidate what they did very well, what they did badly and how they handled the situation. In case of mistakes, ask what you would do differently based on your current knowledge and experience.

Unfortunately, people tend to exaggerate to make themselves look good, so to guard against this, we can ask about specifics, which we will come back to later.

The world is constantly changing. The company may need to change direction, or the candidate may have to join another internal department, etc. Will the candidate be able to do the job properly in these situations? Ask the candidate how he or she is learning and ask for his or her thoughts on where the industry is heading.

Wrap-up

Give the interviewee the opportunity to ask not just one question, but several, if he or she wishes. Explain to them when you plan to follow up and what the next steps will be if the outcome is positive.

After the interview

Give useful feedback

In case you do not continue the process with the candidate, please provide useful feedback. This is important for the personal development of the candidate and helps to create a positive image of your company. Explain what you saw as positive and what were the things that did not meet your expectations, and in general why you have decided to discontinue with him or her.

I don't think it is necessary to be overly verbose here, a few sentences are enough, and let’s be honest.

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