How Can I Create Personalized Interviews?

The interview, along with employee criminal records check, is a valuable opportunity to dig deep into a potential new hire, so don't waste it on cliched and vague questions. The interview is as much a time for you to vet the applicant as it is a chance for the applicant to determine whether she has a future with your business. If she comes away feeling like the interview was insincere, she may decide to look elsewhere. Likewise, a shallow interview could land you with sub-par talent.

To get the most useful information from a candidate, you should personalize the interview to probe for exactly what you want. If you are asking the same form questions of three different applicants, you might be overlooking their individual characteristics that make them a better or worse fit for your company. Form questions in general yield contrived answers. For instance, every job seeker out there knows that the answer to the question of, "What is your greatest weakness?" is that they work too hard or they are perfectionists.

Presumably, by the interview stage, you have read the candidate's resume and cover letter, inquired after references and checked out work history and education credentials. You already have enormous insight into the candidate's background. Use that knowledge to craft tailored questions.

Using Resumes to Craft Questions

The point of the interview is not to intimidate the applicant. A relaxed, conversational meeting will give you much more useful, meaningful answers than a stuffy Q&A session. Use information you know about the candidate to open with a light-hearted, easy to answer question that will get the interviewee talking. Ask what they thought of their college football team's season or their plans for an upcoming holiday. Establish that rapport, then move on to more substantive subjects.

There is nothing inherently wrong with opening the interview by asking the applicant to tell you about themselves. The way a person answers this can give good insight into his values and priorities. If the applicants starts by saying she is a mother, you can gather that she is very family-oriented. Starting with recent career experience can mean that he is very business-oriented or that he has read one too many interviewing tips. Like the resume, the answer to this question can be a jumping-off point for the rest of the interview.

That being said, a good interviewer is engaged in the applicant's responses. Rather than read off of a list of questions, follow up with probing questions that allude to a previous answer. Asking, "I heard you say you left your last job because you didn't get along with a coworker. How do you usually approach conflict in the workplace?" shows that you are invested in the applicant's answers and helps you clear up some lingering questions.

Many interviewers are not great at winging it, so have some questions prepared based on what you read in the resume and gathered from references. An example might be, "I spoke to one of your professors, and she said you were an excellent researcher. Do you see yourself continuing your education?" Instead of asking how previous experiences will impact her job performance, ask specifically how being president of student government shaped her leadership skills.

Ultimately, you want the richest, most telling responses you can get, and you cannot rely on the applicant to give them without being prompted. To get a sense of the candidate's true personality, you must establish the right context by creating personalized employee interviews. Asking targeted questions about subjects with which the candidate is familiar and situations he has actually experienced will yield more candid responses, allowing you to choose your company's best match.

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