That said, here are a few tried and true strategies for a win-win hiring situation. Follow these, and you will gain the confidence of the candidate and establish a rapport. At the same time, you will also appear to be a good gatekeeper to management. Try them.
Before the Interview
Ensure all arrangements are foolproof—location, candidate list, job description, pre-approved interview questions, interview format. It will look silly if you have to rummage through your papers in front of the candidate! Moreover, your own appraisal from your superiors is also at stake. Thus, it is important that you arm yourself with the right answers, even about the candidate. Keep your antennae up and attuned to potential slip-ups—they can bail you out of problematic situations.
At the Interview
Conducting a job interview is the biggest step in the process. As an HR professional, be careful to avoid breaking with protocol. First, formally introduce members of the interview panel; then, describe the format of the interview to the candidate.
A Quick "To-Do" List:
- Obtain all necessary information relating to the candidate's skills, knowledge, aptitude, attitude, and character traits.
- Be alert for possible pauses, omissions, and tendencies to divert discussion topics.
- Speak clearly, using language that is easily understood by the candidate.
- Ensure your questions are direct, clear, and unambiguous.
- Notice whether the candidate answers your questions easily or elaborately.
- Probe, if needed, but subtly.
- Put the candidate at ease.
- Give the candidate a chance to further discuss his or her strong points.
- Don't talk too much; listen and observe.
- Never be rude or discourteous.
- Do not harbor preconceived notions about the candidate.
- Do not jump to conclusions.
- Show as much interest as you would expect the candidate to show.
- Do not fumble while asking questions.
- Avoid unnecessary interference.
Avoid Bad Questions
Never ask questions about the candidate's race, religion, age, gender, national origin, disability, or sexual orientation. These types of questions can lead to legal issues. Know the Civil Rights Act, Title VII (Pregnancy Discrimination Act), and Age Discrimination in Employment Act well to avoid attracting litigation. Even if questions like "What is your birthdate?" or "What about childcare arrangements?" seem harmless, swallow them!
There are, however, certain acceptable questions. Posed subtly, such inquiries as "Will your responsibilities clash with the job hours or travel requirements?" and questions about job permits, special accommodations, commitment, willingness to work overtime if needed, and proof of identity are legitimate. You can also ask the candidate about his or her work ethic. Every candidate has to provide these details along with other credentials.
A Win-Win Wrap-Up
After completing a thorough hiring process, the candidate may have a few questions for you. Answer as practically and truthfully as possible. Making promises on which you cannot deliver will complicate issues later on. At the same time, remember that the interview is not the only deciding factor in the hiring process.