When you're choosing a new employee, a good interview may be far
more reliable than a good reference. Consultant Kurt Einstein, who
honed his interviewing skills as a CIA interrogator, says 99% of job
references are "hocus-pocus." Here are his tips on how to conduct a
successful job interview:
Let the candidate talk first. Don't start an interview by revealing
the type of employee you're seeking. That will program the
candidate's response. Anyone will put the "best foot forward to be
accepted," Einstein says. Rather than give and gather information
intermittently, ask the job candidate first to describe his or her
professional needs and qualifications.
Be precise about the job. Many poor job selections are made because
candidates are not told responsibilities, details of the duties and
standards of performance required in the job. Show the prospective
employee a copy of the Job Description for the positions he or she
is being interviewed for.
Ask open-ended questions. Avoid questions that can be answered with
a "yes" or "no". They tell you little about the candidate. Don't
ask, "Did you like your last job?" Instead ask, "What did you like
about your last job?" and "What didnít you like about your last
job?". These answers can help you to determine if the applicant will
like or dislike your environment.
Ask about likes and dislikes. Don't ask a candidate to tell you
about his or her strengths and weakness. "It's an inducement to
lie," says Einstein. Instead, ask what he enjoys. "What a candidate
likes to do relates to his strengths. What he doesn't like relates
to his weakness."
Watch for lies. "People don't lie loud," says Einstein. A candidate
who is lying will respond to a question with a lowered voice. Be
wary if you get a delayed response to a question that should be easy
to answer. And, if you want to know if your candidate handled the
tasks that the resume claims, ask the candidate to explain "from A
to Z" how each task was accomplished. "People who don't know what
they're talking about can't go into detail."
Einstein says there's not a completely truthful interview. Ask: "Can
you lie?" If the answer is "Yes," your candidate is telling the
truth. Next question: "In what circumstances could you lie?".
Here are some suggested interview questions adapted from Hiring the
Right Person for the Right Job by Dobrish, Wolf and Zevnik. Use
those that you feel apply and will help you. Remember, hiring the
right person is the first step in reducing employee turnover. See
another PAP that contains specific and very helpful interview
questions specifically for customer service positions.
What are some of your most significant accomplishments?
What do you think is the main force behind your success?
What did you particularly like about your last job?
What did you like least about it?
Were there any unusual difficulties you had to overcome?
What responsibilities or results did not come up to your
What would you say was the main thing you learned at your last job?
Describe how you went about making important types of decisions or
recommendations in the position.
What types of decisions are easiest for you? Which ones are
What's the biggest business mistake you can recall?
In what respects do you feel you have improved your decision-making?
How do you think your subordinates would describe you as a delegator?
What pattern of organization do you follow? How has it changed over
What has been the most upsetting surprise you have suffered when
something was getting out of control?
Why do you think you are an effective supervisor? What do you think
are your weakest points?
In what respects do you feel you have improved in recent years?
What have you done about your own skill development in recent years?
Describe your relationship with your last three supervisors.
Describe one or two innovations you are particularly proud of?
How do you feel about your career progress to date?
What would you say are your main assets, strengths and limitations?
What are your hopes for the future?