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Many applicants enter the interview room cool, cocky and dressed to impress. Yet for all their charm, wit and way with words, they may just be putting on a show. They may not be the right person for the job.

As attractive as these traits are, they won't necessarily lead you to the perfect hire; in fact, they can even get you into trouble. The wrong person can lower productivity, impact morale and increase turnover, not to mention cost you extra financially.

Instead, what will lead you to the right hire is a set of solid, sound interview principles. Here are a few tips to help you weed out the flashy rest and hire the deserving best.

  1. Review the Current Position Description Don't get sidetracked by irrelevant details. The candidate may be confident, but that's not really what's at stake here. You need to know the "KSAs" (Knowledge, Skills and Abilities) necessary for the job. Structure your interview in such a way that you can answer the question, "Can they do the tasks, or would they simply charm their way as they go along?" Needless to say, you should check the applicant's résumé against the KSAs. If there are gaps, or you need more specific information, ask.
  2. Build Rapport First Before you ask these questions, however, put the applicant at ease. Set aside the thought that you're testing if they can keep their cool when you're aloof, lofty, intimidating, aggressive or business-like.
  3. Be Sparing with Yes or No Questions These types of closed-ended queries should be limited, as they don't tell you much about a person's practical abilities. Besides, the answers to closed-ended questions may already be in the candidate's résumé: major, last position, etc. Ask open-ended questions like, "What are your feelings about supervisors?" and have the candidate elaborate.
  4. Be Lavish with Behavior-Based Questions These questions are one of the best indicators of future job performance. They help get behind the masks that people wear. A specific technical question or two can tell you if the applicant really knows what she's talking about. Examples of behavior-based questions include something like, "Tell me how you initiated marketing projects?", which can give you an idea of an applicant's marketing philosophy and strategy.
  5. Finish it Up with Situational Questions Finally, present a potential situation or problem that pertains to the job and ask the applicant how they would solve it. This method helps you zero in on the one important fact: Whether the applicant really has what it takes to get the job done. An example might be, "Our factory contains hazardous materials. What would you do if one night you came across a chemical spill on the factory floor?"

Taken from the "Interviewing: Getting Beyond The Image" training program, part of the DuPont Sustainable Solutions human resources training curriculum. Watch a free full-length preview.