Advance Hiring Interview Skills That Improve Your Batting Average Part 2


Although this article does not totally cover interview techniques, I have some suggestions here that I hope will help you to be more successful in finding and selecting the right candidate for the job.

Business Acumen: Are You Making the Right Hire?

If the job description is unrealistic, you will find that either there would be few job applicants for the vacancies or the job applicants do not fit the job good enough (oval peg for round holes). There are 3 factors to consider when you assess whether the job description is realistic, that is you would be able to hire someone close to the job specifications (job descriptions) from the job market:

  • Understand the Business
  • Get the Business Unit Structure Right
  • Get the Job Description Right

All these 3 considerations are based on the assumption that there are prospective job applicants available in the job market that fits the job description. Otherwise, you may have consider whether you need to hire more than 1 person, each doing different tasks or give away some of the tasks to someone else, for example a service provider.

In my own experience with a multi-million dollars non profit organizaation, they were looking for a person who can cover the areas of facilities management, property investment management and information technology. It is a job description that can only be filled by 3 persons if the work in each area is to be done well. Because of the job description, it was hard to find position and they cannot afford to pay even if we manage to find a suitable individual.

Get Your Job Advertisement Right

The job advertisement should provide helpful information to potential job applicants to decide whether they can do the job and whether they want your job. Avoid fluff for example listing personality traits. Avoid a job title that the job market do not understand or would get confused easily.

Stop Discrimination

People are hard to motivate and change. It is best to make selecting a good employee your first priority. A good employee has good work ethics and will treat his or her co-worker and subordinates fairly and reasonably. It is more important that a smart or great talking or smart dressed candidate.

Good employee do not in come in from a pre-specified race, ethnic origin (culture), religion, marital status, gender or age. Your recruitment selection should be meritocractic. That gives you the best chance of finding a good employee.

For example, Christian organization prefer to hire Christians, especially for their key positions. First, there are restricted job applicants. Second, when they screen job applicants based on religion, the pool gets smaller.Hence, it becomes increasing difficult and longer to find a good employee, not to mention the best fit for the job.

I personally had been asked inappropriate interview questions on 3 separate occasion, the first on where I met my wife and how I get to know her and so on; and the second and third on why I sent my children to the school that they went; what are the reasons that I had sent them to the school. The interviewers were senior management staff, one from a large non profit organization, the second from a multi-national company and the third from a local 100 staff consulting firm. People do not realize that in some countries, it is against the personal data protection law to ask such personal questions that are not related to the job.

Job Hopping? Be Realistic

In the 20th century, a person is expected to stay at a job for at least 5 to 10 years. A person that change job even after 3 years at a job and does that more than twice sequentially is labelled a job hopper.

In the 21st century, when jobs moving from one country to another; when mergers and acquisitions become the norm; when big companies fold overnight; when employers wants to employ people at will and the death of the life long job, do not expect prospective employee to have long tenure. When you look at a resume, be prepared to look pass the job applicant’s chequered job history. It could be very well meant that you have a job applicant at hand that have cross-industry experience; have experience in working for organiations of various sizes and in those aspects would be of advantage to your organization.

Re-Design Your Job Application Form

I have 4 suggestions to minimise your company’s legal liability and bad public publicity for job discrimination.

  • Have a fair employment policy. Otherwise, relook at your recruitment policy or diversity and inclusion policy.
  • Write up an instruction sheet regarding job discrimination, laminate it and ensure that you give it out to all interviewers before they go for interview.
  • Update the list of misconducts under your staff disciplinary poilcy.
  • Redesign your job application. Do not ask for details on the job applicant’s race, ethnic origin (culture), religion, marital status, gender or age in the job application form. Once if hhave decided to make a job offer to the candidate, you can always provide another form to collect those information for administrative purposes, for example benefits administration.

As a HR practitioner, you cannot control the interviewer’s behaviors but you can put up measures to minimise the occurances. When bad publicity happens, people always will look for a scrapegoat to blame.

Maintain Recruitment Statistics

You need to maintain recruitment statistics to defend yourself when:

  • Hiring managers are too picky.
  • Hiring managers insist on finding a fit for a job description that is unrealistic.
  • Your company’s compensation is not competitive but your CEO is turning a blind eye to it.
  • The job market is really bad. There is a lot of job applicants but very few of them is suitable.

Does Training in Interview Skills Help?

Training in interview skills provide the know how in crafting interview questions. The downside is most interviewers do not do the pre-interview preparatory work to craft those questions and the expected answers in advance. Usually, it is time pressure as they are using their time on other work matters.

If the interviewer is familiar with the job, sometimes he assumes that he would remember to ask all the required questions and preparations are not needed. Sometimes, the interviewer does not bother to look at the generic interview questions prepared by the Human Resource department.

The training do help the novice, to give them some ideas on the what and how of interview questions. For the experienced, it could be a session for them to put aside time to flesh out specific interview questions for jobs that have regular turnovers.

Does Personality Assessment Tools Work?

The use of personality assessment tool such as DISC personality test, BIG Five personality test, MBTI are not 100% validated and the results needs to be interpreted by an experienced and trained person.

Businesses which can afford them, are using these personality tests to hire a person fit for the corporate culture. What the businesses and the personality tests are NOT doing is weeding out job applicants with personality disorder and toxic behaviors. Both of these falls between the cracks of company human resource policies and are best to screen out with an appropriate profiling tool.

Not Everyone Can Interview Well

A person with the job title of manager, director, associate, consultant do not necessary imply that he is a trained and experienced interviewer. Even a person that had conducted interview may not be good at it.

A good solution is to coach interviewers, but this is not always practical or politically possible. Usually, it is easier to coach a co-manager. But if the interviewer is your superior, if you are not clear on which candidate is better; and who can be hired, then it is best not to float up the candidate to be interviewed by your superior.

To Look for Good Managers, Forget about Looking for A “Manager”

It very often happened that managers got to where they are not because they have good people management skills, but for other reasons such as:

  • They were excellent performers at a lower job grade and was promoted.
  • They were university graduates with some work experience.
  • The hiring manager do not want to do the work while looking for the replacement.

Some of the other reasons are interviewer’s bias. So when you are hiring someone for the position of a managers, be on guard against a hiring a person that could potentially intimidates subordinates; shift work loads to others and self-centered.

Develop Skills Checklists or Skills Specific Tests

Where the impact delivered by the primary role (primary tasks) of the job are skills and the job is a key job, it is a good idea to test the skills. Example are head chefs; radio presenters; magazine editors.

Where the job is non-key but the job outcome heavily rely on skills, it might be good to have a skills checklist to be ticked by the job applicant against his ability (competency) level, for example building facilities technicians.

Use an Interview Evaluation Form

It is useful to use an interview evaluation form, with a space for interviewer’s name, interviewer’s signature and date. Use one form for one candidate.The interview evaluation form will serve the following purposes:

  • It documents the decisions, observations and information gathered.
  • It allows you an opportunity to compare the candidates and make the final decision, even if it is a decision to do another round of search.

Never make a job offer without the interviewer returning their completed and signed interview evaluation form.

Difficult to Fill Jobs or Key Jobs

For difficult to fill jobs, such as experienced clinical trial professionals or key jobs, you may need to engage the services of a search firm.