Every manager wants to hire the best possible people for his or her team. But doing that is not an exact science. Even the most seasoned manager will make a bad hire every now and then. So how do you give yourself the best chance of finding the right people? Here are some tips to help you separate the good candidates from the bad.

Don’t Be Afraid to Be Different

You do not have to put yourself in a box when it comes to interviewing employees. There is no rulebook that states you have to be on one side of a desk with the interviewee on the other side. Just because that’s the traditional method of conducting an interview doesn’t mean it’s the only way.

Try something different when talking to job candidates. Take them outside for a walk, for example. This will help take the pressure off both of you, creating a more informal — but realistic — setting. This approach will also help you size up the interviewee. Does he or she look down when talking? Does the candidate stand up straight or slouch over? A walk can give you insights you won’t get from a conversation at your desk.

Ask them about work-related mistakes they may have made. That answer will give you an idea of how the candidate handled an uncomfortable situation in the past. If they say they can’t recall ever making a major mistake, be skeptical.

Gauge Accountability

People who hold themselves accountable make themselves invaluable to a company by taking ownership of their responsibilities and constantly looking for ways to improve.

When you ask someone about mistakes they’ve made in the past, ask them why those mistakes occurred. Candidates who shift blame might not be a good fit. Those who explain the circumstances surrounding the mistake and recognize that they could have done more to prevent it signal their accountability, even when the unexpected happens.

Give Them Some Homework

If the in-person interview goes well, you can add a homework assignment to give yourself an added level of confidence in the candidate. It can be something along the lines of a 500-word essay on why he or she is the best fit for the job. Make it due by the end of the same day you conducted the interview. You’ll get a good feel for the candidate’s ability to communicate under pressure.

Gauge a Candidate’s Hunger

Some people are looking for employment, while others are looking for a fulfilling career. If you can tell the difference in the candidates you interview, the chances are good that you’ll make a good hire. People who seek fulfillment tend to be more driven than those who just want a paycheck.

Talk to candidates about long-term goals and where they want to be in three to five years. Ask them about their track record of achievement and see if they can point to specific successes. If a candidate has a list of significant achievements, that’s a great sign he or she has the drive you are looking for.

Hunger and a willingness to think outside of the job description often go hand in hand. Finding someone who is adaptable can be valuable for some roles. This is especially important if you’re hiring for a smaller company, where staff must take on duties not in their job description.

See If the Candidate Will Thrive in a Team Environment

No matter the size of a company, its success or failure will largely depend on whether or not employees can function as a team. It is important to get a feel for whether or not the candidate will get along with your current employees.

Is that person able to hold a regular conversation? Does he or she seem to be open to learning new skills? Do candidates take the time to consider the answers to the questions you pose, or do they seem to simply blurt out the first thing that comes to mind? Does a candidate come off as a know-it-all, or does he or she seem willing to listen to the opinions of others?

If possible, try to have current employees sit in on the interview and ask questions. Afterward, ask them if they think the candidate will fit in.

There is no foolproof method for identifying winning candidates, of course. But these tips will make it easier for you to weed out the less-than-ideal candidates from the ones who can bring true value to your company.

Learn more about Baylor University’s online MBA program.


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