Hiring is often a gut wrenching decision, one made under time pressures with too few hard facts.
Assessing people—their character, their potential performance, their fit—isn’t easy in the best of circumstances. But there are techniques that can be applied in the interview process that will help create a better foundation for hiring decisions.
Plan the Interview. Instead of letting the interview panel randomly question a candidate, think about asking each interviewer to come away with a point of view on a particular area. Putting pressure on your interview panel to focus and have an opinion will likely give you clearer feedback post interview.
Break Bread. Too often ‘fit’ is an important consideration but it’s a tough one to assess in the artificial environment of an interview. Candidates are often stressed, prepared to be bombarded or tricked by questions. Taking someone to lunch or drinks or a team dinner, ideally in a casual environment, is more natural to the way people in the workplace normally interact.
Homework Assignments. The absolutely best way to assess someone’s creativity, communication skills, passion and or technical prowess is to have them complete an assignment. Have a sales candidate do a 15 minute sales pitch, have a designer do an assessment of your website, ask a programmer to complete a piece of code.
Reference. References too often are buddies who say all the best things about a candidate. If you get some back channel information on someone, if they are referred to you by someone you respect, if they have a great reputation in the industry, trust those more. And don’t hesitate to ask the candidate about their last performance reviews, how they rated and what they are working on.
Remember that changing jobs is often emotionally charged for the candidate. It’s important to separate out some of that emotion and behaviors from how you think they will perform on the job.
In the end, asking what might be uncomfortable questions, putting people into ‘performance’ situations and getting more personal will give you more confidence in your hiring decisions.