The financial cost of hiring the wrong person can be as much as 30 percent of the employee’s earnings in the first year, Forbes reports, in addition to the cost of onboarding. Potentially costlier, though, is the deterioration of morale and productivity that comes from hiring the wrong employee. Bad customer experiences, workplace tension and the spread of disengagement can have a significant impact on your business, and the best way to avoid these problems is to hire the right people.

How to Conduct a Job Interview

Many interviewers use an improvisational approach to conducting job interviews, relying on intuition and “gut feeling” to choose the right candidate. Unfortunately, this approach isn’t best; a better method is to conduct a structured interview.

Preparation

Don’t just glance at a resume for five minutes before going into the interview. A job interview is an important part of hiring the right person, and it deserves more of your time than that. First, you need to understand what the job requires. What are the job’s metrics for success? What needs does the job fill? How will an employee in the job be evaluated, and what requirements must the individual meet in order to bring value to the company?

Develop a set of questions that must be answered by each candidate. Laszlo Bock, senior advisor at Google, recommends questions that require candidates to talk about specific experience. Behavioral queries, such as “Tell me about a time when you effectively managed your team to achieve a goal,” provide an accurate measure of a candidate’s abilities, experience and work ethic. Assigning work samples can also be an accurate predictor for job performance.

Execution

Knowing the questions to ask is important, but asking them in the right way is equally necessary. Start by thoroughly explaining the process to each candidate. Make sure there are no tricks or traps in the process and that each candidate knows what to expect. Remember that an interview is a conversation. While some interviewers enjoy putting candidates on the spot or believe that doing so provides useful information, it can set a negative tone with the interviewee. If the interview is adversarial, the work relationship is likely to have an antagonistic element as well.

Make sure you listen carefully to the candidate’s answers, and ask thoughtful follow-up questions. Probe the interviewee’s experience and ask for specific examples. Give the candidate time to ask questions too, and answer them honestly. You’re interviewing to see if the individual is the right fit for your company, but the candidate is trying to figure out the same thing. Not only that, but you can learn much from the kinds of questions an interviewee asks.

Inc. suggests a specific structure for an interview:

  1. Introduction
  2. Behavioral Questions
  3. Wrap-up

During the introduction, put the candidate at ease. Talk about the weather, traffic, hobbies. Get a sense for the candidate’s personality, but avoid asking anything that could be taken as discriminatory. Next, move to behavioral questions; these are the questions you prepared beforehand. Once that’s done, wrap up and give the interviewee a chance to ask questions. Finally, explain what the next steps are.

Post-Interview

Inc. recommends having a rating system in place for each position. Evaluate candidates against this rating system before you evaluate them against each other to avoid “the risk of picking a candidate who isn’t qualified simply because they are the most qualified of those candidates that you interviewed.” If nobody in your candidate pool measures up to the pre-defined criteria you use to measure a good fit for the job, then it’s time to find a new group of candidates.

And if there’s a particular candidate who seems to be a clear choice, consider conducting one more interview. It will cost the company less to do so than to find a new candidate later, and you can use a second interview as an opportunity to go on a social outing with the candidate, such as dinner or a ballgame. This gives you the opportunity to see them with their guard down for yourself. Observing how a candidate treats people in a more natural setting can be valuable.

When you’re sure you know who to hire, make an offer and be enthusiastic about it. Your offer of employment sets the tone for the work relationship. Don’t play mind games and don’t be coy; be open, honest and excited about the prospect of working together.

Finally, make sure you provide closure for everyone else who applied for the job, whether you interviewed them or not. You never know, you may want to hire someone you considered in the future.

With an online human resources degree like the one from Jefferson, you can learn the skills you need to interview and evaluate candidates effectively. Hiring the right people can be the difference between success and failure in business.