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eight tips for interviewing more effectively:

By Shari Barnes

  1. BE A GOOD HOST. Think of applicants as guests, and you’re off to a good start. Offer coffee or a soft drink with a smile and a handshake, and show up at the appointed time. Don’t interview from behind your desk, put telephone calls and interruptions on hold, and give this meeting the attention it deserves.

  2. ASK OPEN-ENDED QUESTIONS IF YOU WANT COMPLETE INFORMATION, and learn to query, “What did you do when…?” Since the best predictor of the future is the past, find out how the applicant has handled previous job problems and you’ll have a good idea how she’ll deal with future challenges.

  3. PREPARE FOR THE INTERVIEW. Never wing it. Review the job description and specifications beforehand. You must be familiar with the candidate’s application and attitude evaluation report before the interview. Make notes. Do you need more specific information about skills? What about employment gaps? Why did the candidate leave his past jobs?

  4. ENCOURAGE THE APPLICANT TO DO 75% OF THE TALKING. Your primary purpose is to get information, and you can’t do that while you’re talking. Allow the candidate time to process your questions if you want thoughtful answers.

  5. DON’T PROVIDE DETAILED BENEFIT AND ORGANIZATION INFORMATION DURING AN INITIAL INTERVIEW. While you want to give the applicant basic facts about the job, save details for a later discussion if and when this candidate becomes a top choice.

  6. STAY AWAY FROM PERSONAL ISSUES. Don’t talk about family, religion, disabilities, or marital status. Novice interviewers can run into trouble at the beginning of an interview as they search for small talk issues. Discuss weather or sports to put the applicant at ease. Those topics keep you away from potential legal pitfalls while transitioning to appropriate interview questions.

  7. DON’T OVERSELL THE JOB. If you try to attract a candidate with speculation and promises, you may face breach of contract issues. Remember that statements or promises made by interviewers can be interpreted as oral agreements.

  8. BROADEN YOUR HORIZONS. You aren’t looking for a new best friend. Sociologists tell us we like to associate with people who mirror us in age, gender, value systems and ethnicity. We tend to hire what we are. This becomes a major problem when companies are trying to achieve higher levels of diversity. If you insist on cloning your own personality, you overlook opportunities for a dynamic team.

Don't forget, everyone puts on a good face in an interview. Checking a candidate's attitude evaluation (MD/100 or MD/180) lets you know the real personality beforehand. Is the interviewee being completely candid with you? Is he consistent with his replies? Is she being overly modest or describing a personality that is at odds with the evaluation? An attitude evaluation will give you great insights into probable behavior, allowing you to ask targeted questions for a more revealing and conclusive interview.

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Sharon (Shari) Eurich Barnes is Director of Employee Relations for Texas Christian University. Complementing her human resource career, Ms. Barnes writes for numerous publications, including the New York Times, Working Mother, Women as Managers and Management Review. She also conducts private and court-ordered mediations.

In addition to hosting Books in Review on cable television, Ms. Barnes speaks on employment issues for professional associations and conferences.

Ms. Barnes received her Bachelor's degree from California Baptist University and Master's degree from Texas Christian University. Among other affiliations, she is a member of the Society for Human Resource Management, American Society for Training and Development, American Association of University Women, Fort Worth Human Resource Association Board of Directors (past), College and University Personnel Association, Fort Worth Mayor's Committee for Disabled Persons, and Tarrant County Association of Mediators Board of Directors. Ms. Barnes has also been named to Who's Who Among American Women.

Comments and questions about this article: Shari Barnes.

The opinions expressed in articles by this author do not necessarily represent the opinions of MindData. These articles are provided as a means of informing you of current events and opinions that impact employers and the workplace.

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