Who’s the Boss? How to Conduct the Perfect Interview

Anyone who’s been on a job interview knows they can be intimidating. What do you wear? Do you mention salary? What if you’ve previously been fired? Ack! But what if you’re the boss and you need to hire new employees? Do you have the right skills to interview candidates effectively? Thanks to a variety of management experiences, ChooseWhat’s Operations Officer Leo Welder has been honing his interviewing techniques for years. Read his tips on how to perfect yours.


Develop a Quiz

Welder suggests crafting a quiz of questions you would ask every candidate in order to break the ice and assess his/her personality. These questions are supplemental to the usual prior employment, skill set, and future responsibilities script.

Welder’s favorite questions include brain teasers that don’t necessarily have an answer, but he says these give him some insight to the interviewee’s reasoning skills and attitude. Future interviewees of ChooseWhat, take note! Here is a taste of Welder’s interview questions:

  • Why are manhole covers round?
  • How many jelly beans are there in a glass jar that holds one liter?
  • If you were stranded on an island with everything you needed to survive but could pick two extra things for yourself, what would you pick and why?
  • What does a web hosting company do? (This question lets Welder know if the interviewee is familiar with ChooseWhat’s industry.)

Plan for the Future

Don’t just decide what your new hire will be doing tomorrow; plan their responsibilities for the future as well. Sit down and write out the activities that you see the employee doing over the next six months and then the next two years. What are the skills and personality traits you think would best serve a person in this position?

Check References

Always ask for references. Even though these people have been handpicked by the interviewee, they can still provide you with invaluable information. When contacting references, you should take note of the following:

  • Did they call you back, and how quickly? If they avoid you, that’s an indication of their relationship to the candidate.
  • Did they volunteer additional information? If they try to sell the candidate to you that means they actually liked him/her.
  • Did the candidate only provide you with personal references? Unless you’re interviewing interns, everyone should have at least one professional reference, and, if they don’t, it’s a red flag that might indicate they don’t have a good relationship with any prior employer.

Create a Short Assignment

Between the first and second interview, you should give your candidate a short, timed assignment that’s relevant to the position. “Make sure to keep it simple, specific, and short so you can judge their talent appropriately,” Welder says.

If you’re hiring for a writing position, give candidates a timed writing assignment. If you’re looking for someone to make reports, give them a spreadsheet assignment. For a web developer, ask candidates to craft a proposal. The goal is to create an assignment that’s close to actual assignments your new hire will be completing. This assignment also helps you assess how well they follow directions and meet deadlines as well as utilize their skills.

Gauge Attitude

In addition to skills, Welder explains that an employee’s attitude is a huge deciding factor in who he hires. “Sometimes a good attitude can even outweigh strong skills,” he says. “You can teach skills. You can’t teach attitude.”

Good indicators of a great attitude for Welder include:

  • The candidate has researched the company and has a good understand of what the company does. It means they are enthusiastic and interested.
  • The candidate asks good questions. It means they have thought through their research and are excited by what they found.
  • They are willing to do what it takes, no matter what.  However, someone with a lot of caveats could be trouble down the line.

“You have to work with this employee every day, so make sure you actually like him/her,” Welder points out.

Discuss Salary

While it can be iffy for an interviewee to discuss salaries upfront, Welder says for a boss it’s okay to talk money if you think you might extend an offer to the candidate. You want to know if you’re in the same ballpark moneywise as the candidate because if you can’t provide them with a livable wage, there’s nothing you can really do.

However, Welder strongly advises steering clear of mentioning specific numbers because you can’t retract your original number when you’re hiring someone. He suggests simply asking the candidate what his/her expected salary range is to make sure you’re both on the same page.

Tips for Interviewees

While some bosses might find it difficult to interview new hires, there’s no question that being interviewed is infinitely scarier. Welder also gives a couple of pointers for those walking into an interview.

  • “There is no excuse for missing your interview!” Welder says. Never reschedule your interview the day of.
  • Understand the business as best as possible. Go the extra mile to learn everything you can about the company.
  • Focus on three main things during the interview:  asking questions, showing your interest, and demonstrating your skills.
  • It never hurts to overdress.
  • Make sure to have excellent professional references.

Interviewing potential employees doesn’t have to be stressful! Using Welder’s tips, you can take pride in knowing you’re hiring great employees who can help grow your business. One last piece of advice for bosses? “Don’t talk too much!” Welder says. “Don’t oversell the company too much, and don’t just quiz them either.”

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