So, who is the best interviewer in the Port City? What is the secret of his or her success? Sound the buzzer. If you said “gut feel” or any variation of that, you’re wrong. And I’m going to tell you why.

In my line of work, I have seen too many hiring decisions made after the person who is doing the hiring has a casual conversation with a prospect and decides she really likes him or her. But why does she like that person? Without data to support her position she might as well flip a coin to make her decision.

It’s crazy that one of the most important activities in choosing human capital is handled so casually and in many cases without any preparation. It’s like deciding to bake a cake, not reading the directions, randomly throwing in some ingredients you think ought to be in a cake, putting the results in the oven and hoping for the best.

There is a better way and I’m going to lay it out for you.
 
• First, you need a list of duties and responsibilities for the position, also known as a job description. You can develop one from scratch or you can jump-start the process by looking on the Internet. This research will give you something to start with and edit. There are a number of ways to do this and a variety of finished products. In every case you need to state what the person is to do in this job and what they are responsible for delivering/providing.

• Second, the job description should allow you to determine the skills and abilities, or competencies, required to do this specific job. I make a distinction between behavioral and technical competencies. Technical competencies might be things like welding skills, cost accounting, fork lift skills, or the ability to create spreadsheets in Excel. Behavioral skills would be things like influence, problem solving and interpersonal skills. You should be able to go through your job description and identify five to seven behavioral skills and three to five technical skills. Underline them.

• Third, based on the behavioral and technical skills identified in your job description, you should develop a structured interview question for each of the skills. For the technical skills the question might be, “Describe your experience in creating and using Excel and spreadsheets.” For the behavioral skills it might be, “Tell me a time when you had to influence someone. What did you say? What did you do? How did it turn out?” With the technical skills, an interviewer who knows the subject area should be able to tell in two or three minutes if the person has the skill level needed for the job. In the behavioral skill area, you should expect people to be able to give you an answer most of the time. The quality of the answer will vary. I would suggest you use a scale of 1 to 5 to rate the person’s example. A “1” would be a response that answered the question but didn’t provide a lot of detail or substance. A “5” would be an exceptional response that had a lot of detail and you could almost visualize the person demonstrating the example.

• Fourth, create a rating sheet that you will use to summarize the results of each of your interviews. List each of the behavioral and technical skill that you are assessing for this job. Calculate separate subtotals for behavioral and technical skill and then calculate an overall combined score. This will allow you to do two things. First, you can compare each candidate’s overall competence. By having separate subtotals for behavioral and technical skills you could compare candidates at this level as well. You may have one candidate who is really strong in the behavioral area but missing a technical skill. Can you afford to train him on the missing technical skill and then have a stronger overall candidate?
In summary, “In God we trust; all others bring data.” I think you will find that with a little preparation so that you know what questions you are going to ask each candidate and how those questions are connected to the job’s duties and responsibilities, you’ll have a much better process on which to guide your hiring decisions.

EASI•Consult® works with Fortune 500 companies, government agencies, and mid-sized corporations to provide customized Talent Management solutions. EASI Consult’s specialties include individual assessment, online employment testing, survey research, competency modeling, leadership development, executive coaching, 360-degree feedback, online structured interviews, and EEO hiring compliance. The company is a leader in the field of providing accurate information about people through professional assessment. To learn more about EASI Consult, visit www.easiconsult.com, email ContactUs@easiconsult.com or call 800.922.EASI.