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Westside Toastmasters is located in Los Angeles and Santa Monica, California

Hiring—Conducting the Interview

As an empowered team member, you can expect to be involved in decisions about who to hire into the department. After all, who is better able to judge the technical skills of potential candidates than the people who do the job! But remember, it is important to find people who will fit in with other team members, so morale can remain high. So take this challenge seriously, as a bad orange can poison the whole bag! Here are some interviewing tips for you:

  1. When the candidate enters the room, greet her with a firm handshake. Smile to relax her. Indicate your enthusiasm at having the opportunity to meet her and find out more about her.

  2. Avoid generic questions — they tend to produce generic responses. Find out instead about specific situations involving the interviewee. Don't, for example, ask, "How would you discipline an employee?" Phrase your question as, "Tell me about an instance where you had to reprimand someone." Follow up with questions to draw out the interviewee. Find out why he reprimanded the person, what happened afterwards, and what he might have learned from the incident.

  3. Using the application form as a guide, question the interviewee about

    • gaps in employment history;

    • particular accomplishments;

    • references you can contact.

  4. Get to the facts of the matter, especially when the applicant has presented a professionally prepared resume. Question the interviewee closely about achievements or qualifications that seem overinflated.

  5. Keep your questions in logical order so you can get an in-depth perspective on important issues. If you skip from subject to subject, you will confuse the interviewee and generate irrelevant discussion.

  6. Don't lead the candidate by giving the answer along with the question. For example, you would not want to phrase a question as "Do you think it's wrong to reprimand someone in the presence of his colleagues?"

  7. Allow for silences. The interviewee will need time to think about questions, and to elaborate on statements already made. Encourage further comments with leading remarks. For example, if the candidate says, "I had one or two problems with my last boss," you might respond, "Problems?" in a neutral tone to elicit further information.

  8. Describe some challenges the candidate may encounter in the job and ask for ideas on how to deal with them. Find out if she has had to deal with similar situations.

  9. Make sure that critical issues are fully dealt with. Use "what" and "how" questions to steer the candidate back on course if he wanders. Avoid "why" questions, as they can lead to defensive reactions.

  10. If the interviewee falls back on generalizations or jargon, ask her for specific definitions of terms.

  11. Remember that human-rights legislation prevents you from asking about a person's

    • race;

    • religion;

    • age;

    • marital status;

    • country of birth;

    • family plans;

    • criminal history;

    • financial position;

    • sexual orientation.

  12. Watch out for the following warning signs:

    • inappropriate dress;

    • signs of anxiety beyond normal nervousness, such as excessive fidgeting;

    • unwillingness to make eye contact (but be aware of cultural differences);

    • lack of satisfactory reason for employment gaps on resumé;

    • inappropriate remarks about previous employers or colleagues.

  13. After you have all the information you need about the candidate, discuss the job in question, describing tasks involved and criteria for success. Let the candidate consider whether the job is a good fit.

  14. Describe your organization and its culture, and explain your expectations about the job. Leave time for the candidate to ask questions — these questions, or the lack of them, will reveal much about his character and interest in the position.

  15. At the close of the interview:

    • Explain the next steps to the candidate, including whether there will be second interviews and when decisions will be made.

    • Be honest with the candidate. If you know immediately that there isn't a good fit, tell her, tactfully explaining why. Don't leave her with unrealistic hopes, but be careful not to damage her self-esteem. Let her know what further skills or experience she needs to acquire, and whether you will be keeping her resumé on file.

  16. After the interview, use a standardized form to evaluate the candidates consistently. The following categories should be considered:

    • experience;

    • education;

    • skills and interests;

    • dress and grooming;

    • personality;

    • voice;

    • suitability to the job.

      Not all of these categories are of equal importance, so design a weighting system to emphasize categories that are of greatest importance to you and to the job.

  17. Once you have a short list, do a reference check. Appropriate referees include former employers, colleagues, subordinates, and customers.

  18. Ask for proof of professional qualifications. If transcripts are not available, check claims of degrees, diplomas, or certificates with the relevant institutions or associations.


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