I’ve never met someone who enjoys going to a job interview. My first full-time job interview after graduating from university was a superday. If this is a new term for you, a superday is the final round of a hiring process that consists of up to 20 interviews in a day, group discussions, presentations and testing.
I was nervous but excited as I walked into the huge New York City office. After a day of intense interviews, I walked out exhausted. One of the other candidates turned to me and said “I’m so happy my dad did the assignment that we had to present today.” Sure, I was annoyed, but reassured myself with the thought that he wouldn’t get the job with that type of attitude. A few weeks later I got my first rejection from a full-time job. And who got it? The guy whose dad did his assignment.
In the end it all worked out for the best. I got a great job in Boston and am thankful for where that has taken me. But as I plan to hire a new employee for my team, I can’t help but think back to that first interview experience. The recruiting process can be long and draining, and onboarding someone is very time-consuming. How can I make sure I hire the right person? How do I know they’ll thrive as a member of my team? There’s always the risk that a new hire won’t end up being the right fit, but there are a few things to think about to make sure you aren’t accidentally dismissing good job candidates.
1. Is this person a good listener?
The interview process shouldn’t just involve candidates talking about themselves. That’s actually a good sign that you shouldn’t hire someone. Interviews should be a conversation, where both parties assess whether or not they’re a good fit for each other. When candidates ask questions about the interviewer and the company, it’s a good sign that they’re curious, eager to learn and rank high in emotional intelligence.
2. Interview the unemployed
Studies have shown that employers consider the length of unemployment in deciding who to interview. Your initial reaction to seeing someone who’s out of work might be to dismiss them. But it’s worth finding out why someone is unemployed. Dig a bit deeper, or you could miss out on a great candidate.
3. Hire ‘under-qualified’ employees
It’s tempting to look for someone with years of experience in a field. But this closes the door on motivated people who can easily adapt, and who bring fresh ideas and perspectives to the table. Less experienced candidates can have much to offer – and are less expensive. Hiring for potential can be particularly wise if you’re at a startup where things are constantly changing and budgets are tight.
4. Check for persistence
The right amount of persistence is key to being successful in any type of position. A good candidate will know to follow up, and how often to do so.
5. Ask for references
This might sound obvious, but I’ve seen how it can backfire when companies skip this step. A candidate might seem great on paper and in the interview, but end up being less than ideal once actually in the role. Even if you’re confident that you’ve found the right person, check references.
There’s no doubt that things like AI, interviewing tools, and better data are improving the way we recruit and work. But paying attention to these five things continue to be important. You could be missing out on hiring terrific people if you don’t.