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Five Steps to Better Interviews

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By now you've probably seen the seemingly endless lists of great interview questions to ask candidates and learned methods to keep them at ease during the interview. The interview is your "juiciest" chance to evaluate potential employees and gauge how they will function within your organization. Here are five ways supervisors can squeeze more "juice" out of the process and make more informed hiring decisions.

1. Best Behavior – One of the best ways to discover a candidate's true nature is through behavioral interviewing, which posits that past behavior is the best predictor of future performance. Prepare questions that can be touchstones to revealing past behavior. An example is "Share with me a time when you came up with a value added project and take me through its evolution and execution." This type of question can be revealing in terms of team relationships as well. If the project was developed in conjunction with a team, the candidate may be taking undue credit. On the other hand, it can illustrate how the individual functions as part of a team, which is always important.

2. Accentuate the Positive – Picture what sets your organization apart from the pack. Maybe you offer perks (gym memberships, tickets to local sporting events) or provide flexible scheduling. When you are interviewing a promising candidate, don't hesitate to talk up your company and present these positives. Often, they will seal the deal for a candidate who is wavering.

3. Cultural Fitness – Devote ample time to determining an applicant's skill set, but don't overlook how they will function within your company's culture. To characterize your business culture consider things like who makes decisions and how they are communicated and whether independence is championed or frowned upon in your organization. Ask questions that will reveal whether the candidate's character will flourish or perish in your business environment.

4. Safety in Numbers – Delegation comes in all shapes and sizes. Just because you're the hiring manager with final say on who gets hired doesn't mean you can't have some assistance. Particularly with high profile hires, sometimes the best option is to involve multiple interviewers to get diverse perspectives about an interviewee. Enlist co-workers you respect and whose judgments you trust to conduct separate interviews. Afterwards, compare notes and keep an eye out for things they may have noticed about a candidate that you failed to.

5. Fielding Tough Questions - Job seekers are more savvy than ever nowadays and they are coming armed with hardball questions for interviewers. Be prepared to answer queries like "What makes your company a great place to work and what are you doing to make it even better?" or "When was the last time your organization had layoffs and what was the most important measure used to determine who would stay?" Don't get caught flatfooted by tough questions – anticipate them and have well thought out answers prepared.

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