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Interviewing Tips to Land Your Next Star Contributor

Posted On
Kim Matters

Are you looking for perfect person to help make your small business a success? Use the interview process to dig deep into their experience and personal traits to ensure they are the right fit for your team.   


The response to the job posting exceeds expectations. You’ve narrowed the resumes to a slate of qualified candidates, and you’re confident the perfect fit for your open position is within reach. 

Adding the next star contributor to your team is more than just sourcing quality candidates; it could very well come down to the job interview.

Use the Job Interview to Dig Deeper into More than Just their Experience

Once you’ve short-listed candidates who have the knowledge, skill, experience, and ability to thrive in your company culture, it’s time to schedule the interview. The job interview offers a small business owner the opportunity to provide more details about the position, showcase the company, and learn more about the candidate. An interview template—a tool frequently overlooked by small business owners—brings consistency and fairness to the hiring process and helps provide an overall picture of each candidate.

Developing an Interview Template

Candidates likely have multiple job opportunities in today’s competitive market. A stellar interview experience could influence a candidate to choose your business over another. An interview template can help you make a positive impression. Here are a few areas to consider when building an interview template.

  1. Skills, Experience and Cultural Fit. The interview provides an opportunity for the candidate to bring his or her resume to life. The interview template should include questions that elicit responses to add context and contour to work experience and skill sets, and help you better understand if the candidate has what it takes to be successful. It should also include detail on how the position supports the company mission.

  2. Behavioral and Problem-Solving Skills. No matter the type of business, it’s key to have employees who can “think on their feet” and adapt to ever-changing business situations. One of the best ways to test that potential is through behavioral questions. Behavioral questions focus on the candidate’s real-life work scenarios and their ability to reach goals, work together with others to accomplish a task, or pivot to get the job done when the original goal has changed. Here are some examples of behavioral questions that will help determine if you have the perfect candidate before your hire:
    • Give me an example of a time you had to work with a difficult person and what you did to still be effective.

    • Tell me about a difficult project you managed that was successful and what you had to do to ensure it was a success.

    • Explain how you prioritize your tasks or projects?

    • If I talked with someone you worked with in the past, what three things would they say about you?

    • Tell me what your like to do when you aren’t working.

  3. Sell the Candidate. It’s a given that a candidate considers the interview an opportunity to sell their qualifications. Similarly, the hiring manager should use the interview to persuade the candidate. Make sure you provide the candidate detailed information about the position, expectations, and the company. Personalize why you think candidate is right for the position by linking resume elements to your vision for the position. Take time to highlight benefits of working at your company. Consider including key employees / top performers in the interview process, and encourage them to freely share their success stories and candid assessment of the company. Be sure to leave ample opportunity to ask questions and offer the answers to help the candidate decide. Many candidates could view incomplete or evasive answers as a sign the company isn’t forthcoming with employees.

  4. Link to the Future State. “Where do you see yourself in five years?” A staple of job interview questions, it really can help you decide which candidate is right for your business. With so many people jumping from one job to another, knowing if someone wants to build a “career” with your organization can be an important differentiator when comparing candidates. Be prepared if you ask the question as the candidate may ask about career growth opportunities within the company. If you don’t already have a career path for the position, take time to outline the growth opportunities related to the position. Many candidates interview for the posted position and their next position within the company.

  5. First impressions matter. While candidates are trying to make a good impression on you, you also need to make one on them. Interviewers who appear unprepared and disorganized, don’t offer a favorable impression, and some candidates may view failure to prepare as a sign of disrespect

  6. Close the Sale. Prepare a closing statement for the interview. The statement should summarize a few key highlights from the conversation, why you see the candidate as a good fit, and why the company is a great next step for their career. End the interview on a positive note, and make sure you detail the next steps and timeline regarding your selection process.

After the Interviews, Communicate with All the Candidates Promptly

While executing a perfect interview will help you land the right person for your job opening, remember it is important to follow-up promptly with all the candidates to leave them with a positive feeling about your company. That can be particularly important with today’s challenges finding qualified candidates, because you may reach out to them again for a subsequent position and they might recommend your company to their friends who are looking for a job.

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