How to Interview Someone for a Job
One of the keys to running a successful business is knowing how to interview someone for a job. As the old saying goes: trash in, trash out. If you hire bad employees, there’s no amount of training or managing techniques that are going to turn them around (forever), and getting them out of the system is often a lot harder these days than it once was.
So having the secrets to good interview skills becomes important for the owner of a small business or the employment personnel at a corporation. Keep problem employees out of your company by following the interview tips below. I’ve tried to provide broad outlines of interview advice and suggestions, instead of trying to create an unrealistic universal template for interview questions.
Get a First Impression
One way to weed out bad employees is to look for red flags before the interview ever starts. Notice whether the person is on time and conscientiously dressed. These issues are only going to go downhill, since people are trying to make a good impression.
Does a person try to look good for the job interview? If that’s how they behave when they’re trying to impress you, imagine how they behave once they have the job.
Learn What They Know About Your Business
Another way to gauge this person’s attitude and conscientiousness is to learn what they know about your business. A good employee is likely to learn a little bit about your company before the interview. This shows that they care and want to learn about the business.
If a person doesn’t know the first thing about what your company does, that is a sign they want a job, but not necessarily a job in your field. People are going to be better at the things they are interested in, and if a person about to interview for a job can’t be bothered to learn a little bit about the career they’re presumably want to enter, they aren’t likely to put much energy into the job, once they get hired.
Don’t expect newcomers to know everything about your field or the company itself, but expect them to know the basics. If they are asking questions they could have learned with a quick online search of your business’s homepage, that’s a red flag.
Evaluate Their Job History
Looking at their resume, decide whether they are both qualified and/or overqualified. A qualified employee has either done the job before, or has skills that apply or translate to this new job. Someone that is overqualified is probably going to be searching for a better job, once they do get hired. If there’s room for promotion in your company, that might not be a bad thing. If not, you’re likely getting a half-hearted employee.
Put Them on the Spot
Interviewees hate this, but if you ask them pointed questions and put them under pressure, you’re likely to see how they handle stress and the pressures of the job. Ask them why they want to work at your company, which skills they have that make them an asset, what their strengths are, what their weaknesses are and how much they expect to be compensated.
Get down to brass tacks and see how the potential employee replies. They’re going to be nervous at a job interview anyway, but you don’t have time to get to know them under ordinary circumstances. Put them under the spotlight and see how they react.
Do You Establish Rapport
Do you and the interviewee establish a rapport? If your gut instinct says this person doesn’t fit in, then don’t give them the job. You might have to modify your hunch-making ability, if you have a larger business.
If so, then ask yourself whether this person is going to establish rapport with the other employees they’ll be working with. You don’t want personality clashes and office politics to get out of control, so before hiring someone, ask yourself whether they’re going to become a part of the team.
Let Them Know Your Decision
For those who came in to interview, give them the callback to let them know you did not hire them. This lets them get on with their search for a new job. You don’t have to tell them why you didn’t hire them, but it’s a basic courtesy to let them know it didn’t work out.
Those prospective employees who just missed the cut are good to keep in the back of your mind, because they might be options later. There’s even the chance that your courtesy pays off some years down the line, when you’re looking for a new career and this person is sitting behind the hiring desk.
Interview Questions That Aren’t Allowed
When considering how to interview someone for a job, there are certain questions that cannot be asked during the interview process. Below are specific questions that an interviewer cannot ask during a job interview. Federal law says these questions are illegal.
There is a wide list of questions that are off-limits to people conducting interviews for a company job. Below are subjects that you cannot broach during a job interview. Below this list is a list of questions, somewhat related to these topics, that you can ask about.
Remember, these are not hard-and-fast rules of interviews. Certain states allow more leeway to job interviewers. Look up your specific state laws, to know whether the rules below apply to you. Also note that the rules change, once you have made a conditional job offer. At that point, you might be able to ask more specific job-related questions, including credit history and health-related inquiries.
- Maiden Name
- Original Name before Name Change
- Whether an Applicant Rents or Owns
- Birthplace or Relatives’ Birthplace
- Citizenship of What Country
- Native Born or Naturalized
- Whether Family Members are Citizens
- Country of Origin
- Religious Affiliation
- Religious Background
- Religious Practices
- Age or Date of Birth
- What is Your Race?
- Reproductive Plans
- Marital Status
- Number of Children
- Physical Condition
- Mental Condition
- Clubs and Organizations They Belong To
- Asking if they Have Ever Been Arrested
- Name & Address of Nearest Relative to Be Notified
- Whether They Face Garnishment of Wages
- Whether They Are in Bankruptcy
Interview Questions You Can Ask
There are specific questions related to the topics above that you can ask. These often get to similar information, but in appropriate ways. These questions tend to do with job performance or specific company policies, but not with gray areas of the law.
- Have you ever worked for this company under a different name?
- How long have you been a resident of this state/city?
- Are you 18 years or older?
- Is your spouse employed with this corporation?
- Are you legally authorized to work full-time in the U.S.?
- Which languages do you speak/write fluently?
- Have you ever been convicted of a crime?
- Do you have felony charges pending against you?
- Name and address of person to be notified in case of a person. (Note this is “person” – not “relative”.)
- Ask them to list organizations they are a member of, but they can exclude organization that indicate race, religion, color, ancestry or national origin.
- Provide applicant with minimum physical/mental requirements of job and ask them to describe how they would perform those tasks.