Improve Your Interviews

Posted on August 4, 2016

Make the most of your time with applicants.

There is a shortage of trade workers. That’s a fact, but it doesn’t mean we should settle for interviews-2hiring anybody that comes along. Bad employees can be hard on productivity, toxic to your team and tough to get rid of. Depending on your circumstances, it might be more profitable to be a person short rather than fully staffed with a bad apple.

The single best time to address this issue is during the application and interview process. Most business owners dread the thought of hiring employees because it takes away time they could be spending on tasks that they regard as more productive. In truth, this is backward. As stated above, all of your hard work could be for naught if you have hastily selected a worker who is poisoning your team and slowing down your projects.

Good interviewing pays off in the long run, period. Here are some tips for making the process easier (thanks to and

1. Work to establish rapport: Be friendly, offer a firm handshake and let the applicant know what to expect. For example, you might say “Today I’d like to accomplish three things in the time we have . . . ”

2. Gather information using open-ended questions: Confirm the information on the application/résumé (some statistics show that nearly 30 percent of information on résumés is misrepresented). Use open-ended questions (start with how, what, when, etc., and avoid anything that can be answered with a “yes” or a “no”). “I advise people to follow the 80/20 rule,” says Melissa Lunak, director of human resources at DSG. “The applicant should be talking 80 percent of the time and the interviewer only 20 percent. The goal should be to learn as much as you can about the applicant.”

3. Don’t forget to tell them about your company and the nature of the position. This includes:

  • Expectations
  • Skills you want
  • Working conditions
  • Compensation and benefits (although some interviewers don’t discuss pay until a job offer is made)

There’s nothing wrong with a little “selling” here if you think that the candidate has potential. Even if they don’t take the job, they may spread the good word about your company.

4. Compare and rate candidates: Get this information recorded as soon as possible – don’t trust your memory to recall the interview at a later time. Also, be sure to check at least one reference, especially an old employer. Even if you don’t get anything out of them, try to get them to respond to this question: “Is (employee name) eligible to be rehired by your company?” This one answer can tell you a lot.

Off-Limit Topics And On-Point Questions

Anyone who has ever dabbled (willingly or unwillingly) in human resources knows that there are many topics that are off limits in job interviews. This isn’t an all-inclusive list, but basically you need to stay away from discussing anything pertaining to:interviews-1

  • Race
  • Religion
  • Age
  • Ethnic background
  • Gender
  • Marital status
  • National origin

Thankfully, these off-limit topics can actually have a positive effect on your interviewing approach. By keeping in mind the subjects that you need to avoid, you can focus your energy on the kinds of questions that are most important. Specifically, a good interviewer really wants the applicant to explain as much as possible on their own. Ask the candidate to describe their duties at their current or prior place of employment. Ask which duties the applicant liked or disliked – and why. Always ask why the applicant wants to leave their current employment.

Ask the candidate how they would handle certain situations. For example, “How would you react to a customer or coworker who is confrontational?” or “What would you do if you thought it was too cold to work outside?” Answers to these questions tell you a little about how the applicant responds to adversity.

“One of my favorite questions to ask is, ‘What type of people annoy you?’” says Lunak. “By listening closely to how the applicant answers these kinds of questions, you may find that they are telling you (in their own words) that they don’t get along well with others, dislike customer interaction, resent supervision and/or generally may not be a good fit for your crew.”

Starting Off On The Right Foot

Finally, be completely honest. Just as you don’t want to be unhappy with a new hire, you don’t want them to be unhappy working for you. Even the best worker can become disgruntled if they feel that you haven’t been forthcoming with them. If you are a business owner or a manager, interviewing/hiring just might be the most important task on your long list of duties. Work on it, improve at it and stick with it – you’ll find that the time spent up front pays off in the end.

Sources: toolkit/sbg/office-hr/hiring-workers/job-interview- dos-and-donts.aspx; the-art-of-conducting-a-job-interview