Conducting Effective Job Candidate Interviews

interview picture

In my previous blog post we spoke briefly about reviewing resumes and identifying the best candidates for your job opening and your small business. In this post we’ll tackle the next step in the process – interviews.

Conducting interviews, or interviewing,  is one of the most important steps in hiring the best new employee you can hire. Knowing how to interview can be challenging for a business of any size. But this is especially important for small businesses. Bad hires can hide in a larger company perhaps not making a significant negative impact overall. In a small business, no one can hide. Every person in a small business can make or break the organization contributing significantly or detracting greatly from the bottom line.

Decisions are costly. Poor hiring procedures can lead to employment disputes and lower retention rates. A small business can invest a substantial amount of money to properly hire and train a new employee. So, making sure that your next new hire is the right one is monumentally important.

You can take a number of different approaches to effectively interview depending on the position you are trying to fill. Here are a few interviewing tactics that every small business should keep in mind.

  • The initial few moments of an interview are crucial. This is where the first impression is made and will help show their confidence and enthusiasm. How does your candidate portray themselves? Is this someone you would want representing your small business?
  • When conducting interviews, it is important to use a consistent set of questions to offer a sound basis for comparing applicants. Do you have them written down for reference? This is key to getting an apples to apples comparison for evaluation. Still have questions about the questions to ask? Download Rhonda Abrams’ 11 Questions to Ask Your Candidates [pdf].
  • Pay attention to the candidate’s nonverbal cues, too. Make sure the candidate seems alert and interested as well as properly dressed. What are they communicating with their body language and tone of voice beyond the words they’re communicating?
  • Rather than concentrating on candidates’ specific experience or knowledge, actually providing short projects or assignments can be critical to assess how a candidate approaches the task. The focus for this approach is to evaluate how the candidate utilizes creative problem-solving skills. This is helpful for any role in an organization that involves decision making, conflict resolution, project management, and teamwork.
  • Another approach that allows you to see how well a candidate can shift mindsets when required involves role-playing. In role-playing, the interviewer asks the candidate to convince them what is better from two options given. After the candidate has had a chance to answer, the interviewer switches that role and makes the candidate convince them on the other option as a better choice.

Some of these tips provided in this post challenge conventional interview methods and can help an interviewer decide if a candidate can adapt to the company culture. The idea is to give you tactics that you can use to get a real feel for how the interview candidate would perform as part of your team.

For more information on conducting effective interviews, Fort Hays State University’s Management Development Center provides extensive HR consulting services that can help with conducting interviews as well as employee development. You can also speak with consultants in the Kansas Small Business Development Center network to help develop a roadmap for developing an effective team for your small business.


About our Author

Saul Sanchez is a Human Resources undergraduate student studying at Fort Hays State University. He blends his classroom education with real world learning working with FHSU’s Management Development Center (MDC) as a student intern. He takes his learning one step further by guest blogging about small business HR issues via a co-operative learning opportunity developed between the FHSU MDC and the Kansas SBDC.

Are we making a difference?

Do we make a difference in the businesses that we serve through the Kansas Small Business Development Center (KSBDC) network?

In sales growth?

chart KSBDC clients v all Kansas businesses jobs growth

KSBDC clients jobs growth outperforms all Kansas business

chart of KSBDC clients v all Kansas businesses sales growth

KSBDC clients sales growth outperform all Kansas businesses

In job growth?

The answer is, “Yes.”

Each year the Kansas Small Business Development Center (KSBDC) network invests time and resources to confirm our impact through surveys, audits, and in-depth studies. We need to know that the resources and support we are providing our small business clients are making a difference in their businesses. In the graphs you’ll note that our small business clients have consistently grown their annual sales and annual jobs at a greater rate than all Kansas businesses.

Do we make a difference?

Yes, we do.