As Richard Nelson Bolles remarked in his best-selling career guide What Color Is Your Parachute, “The chances of employers finding reliable employees through a typical interview process is only 3 percent higher than if they picked names from a hat.”

I know this firsthand from early in my 30-something year career, when I was a greenhorn ‘Personnel Manager’ working for a small startup company. We were a new player in our industry, but we were growing fast and quickly becoming a leader in our field. We needed a consistent, reliable way to hire capable and qualified employees. I was a department of one and the pressure was on to ‘hire, hire, hire!’ I was overwhelmed with a constant stream of searching, screening, interviewing and hiring new employees. Some days I wondered if I’d ever see the end of the job candidate parade coming through the door.

If you can relate to any of what I’m saying, then here are 3 critical interview hacks I’ve learned over the years:

1-     Write/create an accurate job description

Many times, interview questions are not guided by a carefully crafted job description. Out of the gate you are already facing a significant challenge in finding the right person for your role. You need a relevant, accurate job description to know what it is you’re looking for when you’re sitting face to face with your job candidates. It’s cliché, but still very relevant: If you go on a road trip, you need to have a map or GPS to guide you to your destination.

Even the simplest roles within organizations have their unique requirements and nuances that, unless accurately documented, can often be overlooked. If you already have a job description for the role you need to hire for, make sure it makes sense for what the role really is. Roles change as the organization evolves and so must a good job description. Most importantly, make sure you formulate your interview questions using the job description as your guide. This key hack ensures you are finding out if the job candidates have the required skills and experience the role demands.

2-     Make the interview process as consistent as possible

Consistent interview strategies help to ensure more accurate interview experiences and, ultimately, more effective hiring decisions. But companies and organizations will overlook this crucial aspect of interviewing. Key interview strategies to achieve consistency include:

  • Using the same interviewer(s) for a specific role. The logic is obvious, but not often put into practice. Using different interview personnel for the same role will contribute to what I like to call, ‘interview distortion,’ which basically means you lose consistency of analysis across interviews and candidates with each variation in interviewer.
  • Using the same set of questions for ALL interviews. It only makes sense to use the same criteria to compare candidates when making a final hiring decision. It really is about comparing the proverbial ‘apples to apples.’ If you don’t, then you risk undermining the accuracy of the final hiring decision because your interview analyses won’t be consistent from one candidate to the next.

3-     Structure the interview

Closely related to consistency, this interview hack seeks to nail down and eliminate as many variables as possible during the interview process. This ensures every candidate is treated equally, using the same interview ‘template’ and interview format. It also ensures all candidates are handled exactly the same, thereby clearly highlighting differences between candidates in order to make more accurate hiring decisions. In the industry, this is called, a ‘Structured Interview.’ Interestingly, one of the earlier studies done on the validity of structured interviews showed ”validity coefficients twice as high as unstructured interviews”. In other words, structured interviews produce better hiring results!

To be clear, every interview you conduct for a specific role should be outlined in advance and then followed in the exact same order for ALL your interviews. One of the best structured interview tools I know of is having a documented interview outline or guide. This is hands-down the best practice you can use to ensure you achieve a structured interview. By using and following an interview guide you are much more likely to hire the most qualified candidate based on objective decision-making.

There you have it! The top 3 critical interview hacks that will save you time, worry, work and most importantly, help you find the best candidate for your role! Be sure to like this post and comment/share it if it resonates for you. I’d love to have a discussion on what it is about hiring interviews that cause you the most concern?

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