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News, tips, and advice for small business owners

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How to Interview Someone

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Interviewing someone is one of those tasks that might seem easy until you get in the room and all you can think of is, “So, tell me about yourself.”

And, of course, the face to face interview is just one part of the process. You also have to know what to look for in resumes, what type of experience you want in a candidate and what type of personality is right for your business.

This blog post will break down:

  • Interviewing techniques
  • How to review resumes
  • How to choose candidates
  • How to interview candidates outside of the office

How to Best Spend Time in an Interview

There is no denying the importance of the recruitment and hiring process. If you have a solid strategy for finding and hiring the best workers, stick with it for the long haul. Your company is among the lucky few that have figured this out.

Is your company one of those that continually hire the wrong workers? Has this cost you a lot of time and money in the past? As frustrating as it may be, there are changes you can make for the better in the future.

Laszlo Bock, Senior Vice President of People Operations at Google, recently penned an article for Wired. In it, he provides advice that every company, regardless of size or industry, can lean on when interviewing and hiring workers.

Here are some advanced tidbits in regards to structured (and unstructured) interviews, based on a 1998 study conducted by Frank Schmidt and John Hunter:

employee performance chart 1

In other words, if you are relying solely on these factors to make a hiring decision, you could be "missing the mark."

Since the above methods fall short, you must know where to spend your time. The answer: a work sample test. The same study shows that this is the best predictor of how a person will perform on the job.

A sample test is nothing more than a piece of work related to the job the applicant would perform. After assessing the result, you will have a better idea of whether the person is a good fit for the position. Of course, even this predictor has flaws. After all, actual performance in a job setting depends on other factors such as the ability to work with others, how the person adapts, and the way they learn.

Over the years, Google has been successful in hiring and retaining top talent. Is it possible your company could benefit from tweaking its interview process?

Resume Lies, Mistakes, and Blunders

As the employment market heats up and competition grows, job applicants often wonder what they can do to overcome the odds.

CareerBuilder recently conducted a survey of 2,532 hiring and human resource managers. Here are two takeaways that may surprise you:

employee performance chart 2

What does this tell you? Spend some time making sure a candidate's resume adds up.

These Details Bring Out the Lies

The survey notes the following five areas in which job seekers most commonly lie:

employee performance chart 3

Given these statistics, it may be well worth it to conduct background checks on the candidates you're considering.

Resume Blunders

Here are several of the most embarrassing blunders shared by survey participants:

  • Applicant claimed to be fluent in two languages - one of which was pig Latin.
  • Applicant claimed to be a former CEO of the company to which they were applying.
  • Applicant who claimed to be HVAC certified later asked the hiring manager what "HVAC" meant.
  • Applicant's stated job history had him in three different companies and three different cities simultaneously.

Review Resumes with a Candidate Profile in Mind

Imagine this scenario: you post an online advertisement for an open position within your company. Within a matter of hours, the cover letters and resumes begin to roll in. This trend continues for several days.

At some point, sooner rather than later, you need to review the resumes, cut your list, and begin the interview process.

To review each and every resume with confidence and success, you should create a candidate profile. With this approach, you can dismiss applicants that don't fit the position while focusing on those that have the most to offer.

Key Points for Creating a Solid Candidate Profile

You should create a candidate profile before you sit down to read your first resume. With this information in place, you will feel much more comfortable moving forward.

But here is the real question: what information will you use to create a candidate profile you can trust? Here are five details to focus on:

  • Key traits the person must have to succeed in the position.
  • Most important skills.
  • Desired experience.
  • Desired education.

The primary benefit of creating a candidate profile is the discipline it will lend to the resume review process. Without this, you will jump from one candidate to the next, never really knowing what you are looking for. Once you have a profile in mind, it is easier to rank the candidates to determine which ones to consider and which ones to put on the backburner for the time being.

In your mind, you have an idea of what the perfect employee brings to the table. However, it is not always easy to find this person, especially when you have hundreds of resumes on your desk. With a candidate profile in mind, your approach will be more organized and you will have a greater chance of pinpointing the right person for the job.

How to Pick the Right Candidate

Try as you might, it is not likely that you will ever find the perfect job candidate. What you can do is find a person who has all the qualities you are looking for in a new employee.

Every company and hiring manager is different in terms of the way they conduct interviews and judge talent. However, nothing changes the fact that some qualities in job candidates are more important than others.

Regardless of the process you have in place, here are three key qualities to look for in every job candidate:

  1. Ambition. Is the person anxious to get started? Is he or she interested in playing a big role in the success of the company? An ambitious employee is one that you want to work alongside. Somebody who needs a constant "kick in the pants" may do nothing more than hold you back.
  2. Commitment. When an employee is committed to the task at hand, you can be rest assured that he or she will do whatever it takes to help the company succeed. On the flipside, there are those who "show up for the paycheck." You want every member of your team to be 100 percent committed to bettering both themselves and the company.
  3. Willingness to go above and beyond. An employee who will go above and beyond is one who will do whatever it takes to please you. Conversely, there are those who care about nothing more than doing their job. They don't want to step outside the box. They don't want to take on responsibility outside of their job description.

Your goal is simple: to bring the best employees on board at the right time. Looking for these three key qualities in job candidates will go a long way in helping you make better hiring decisions.

4 Types of Personalities You Need on Your Team

Every person is unique in a variety of ways. As you build your company, it is important to surround yourself with the right people. This means many things, including the selection of employees with the appropriate personality.

While there are many types of personalities, not all of them will fit in with your organization.

Paychex recently examined the four personality types that are a must for road trips and office success. While you may have your eyes set on a summer vacation, for the sake of this article we will focus on how these personalities pertain to a business setting.

The Leader

This type of person has no problem taking the "bull by the horns." They thrive on taking charge, regardless of how challenging the situation may be.

Strong leaders keep the company moving forward, day in and day out. Furthermore, they help others stay motivated on their path to career success.

The Motivator

These people often times have strong leadership skills as well. Here are some behavioral traits shared by motivators:

  • A real go-getter attitude
  • Always congratulating others
  • Take pride in helping coworkers stay the course
  • Offer words of encouragement when necessary

It doesn't matter if times are good or bad, this type of person is always motivating.

The Conflict Negotiator

Let's face it: conflict is part of every business. Coworkers get into arguments. Clients get mad. Prospects become frustrated. In the business world, there is no way to avoid conflict.

What you need are a few people who are skilled in the art of conflict negotiation. These people have the ability to stay neutral while helping both parties work through the issue at hand.

The Problem Solver

There is no such thing as a business in which problems don't arise. In fact, most workers face problems on a daily basis. Some are big, some are small. Regardless, they all need solved on time and in the appropriate manner.

Problem solvers don't look for excuses. Instead, they look for solutions. When you have a problem solver on the case, you know you will be happy with the way things work out in the end.

How to Conduct a Successful Offsite Job Interview

As a small business owner, you face many challenges. One of the most common is a lack of space. Although you may have plans to expand into a new office in the near future, for the meantime you must make do with what is available to you.

A lack of office space can make for an awkward interview process. Not only are you cramped in a tight space with the interviewee, but you aren't making a good first impression in terms of your company's atmosphere. Furthermore, it may be difficult to conduct the interview without others overhearing.

Fortunately, there is another option: conduct an offsite job interview. As the name implies, this is when you meet an applicant at a neutral location.

In addition to avoiding space related issues, there are other benefits of this approach:

  • Choose a location that is convenient for both you and the candidate.
  • Less formal setting makes for a more laid back atmosphere.

If this sounds intriguing, the following tips will help you get the most out of every offsite interview:

Carefully choose the location. There is a lot that goes into this, including but not limited to:

  • Convenience for both parties.
  • Environment that is public, yet reasonably quiet.
  • Space to spread out, such as to share important documents.

Restaurants and coffee shops are a great choice, due in large part to the number of available options. Additionally, the atmosphere is typically conducive to conducting an interview.

Arrive in advance. The last thing you want to do is setup an offsite job interview, just to have the applicant arrive before you. This makes you and the company look bad. Even worse, there is a chance the person may leave before you arrive.

As a general rule of thumb, arrive for the interview approximately 20 to 30 minutes in advance. This will give you plenty of time to prepare yourself, making sure you are ready for every aspect of the interview. The last thing you want is to find yourself rushing around.

Remain professional at all times. It is often times difficult to remember this tip when you aren't in the office. But keep this in mind: you are still representing your company.

The atmosphere may be relaxed, you may be in more of a social situation, but this doesn't mean you should let down your guard in regards to your behavior and manners.

Note: as tempted as you may be, don't order an alcoholic beverage during a job interview. This looks bad on many different levels.

Be honest about why you are interviewing offsite. At some point, the candidate will want to see where they would be working. Most have no problem interviewing offsite, as long as they eventually get to take in the atmosphere of the company's office.

You may share the following regarding your preference to interview offsite:

  • Our office is a bit cramped right now, so I wanted to ensure we have enough space to comfortably discuss the position.
  • We are in a transition period at the office, so I figured an offsite location would be quieter.
  • I was out of the office today anyway, so meeting offsite worked perfectly. Thanks for making things easy on me.

As long as you are honest, as long as you make it clear that the person will be able to visit the office before making a decision (if offered the job), you are on the right track.

Leave enough time between interviews. Are you meeting with more than one person at the same location? If so, don't run one interview up against the next. It can be extremely embarrassing to have one candidate arrive while you are still interviewing another.

Additional tip: if you are leaving one location for an interview at another, give yourself enough time to make the trip. If you don't, you may find it challenging to arrive in advance (see #2 above).


As you can see, there's quite a bit to consider when interviewing someone, especially when you're just starting out as an employer.

The interview itself is just one part of the process. The more preparation you do, the better candidate you'll likely land on.

At the end of the day, you want to find someone who is just as excited to work for you as you are to have them on board.