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Creative Interviewing and Manhole Covers

Manhole_cover Q. What's more important during an interview than the questions you ask?

A. How you listen. If you've ever had to live with a bad hire --and who hasn't if you've managed longer than six months! --you know what I'm talking about. Taking the time to interview and hire well is critical, especially when your organization is growing and the labor market is tight.

To find good people, you have to get creative. For example:

1.  Interview at a time that's most convenient for the kinds of applicants you're hiring. If it's tough for them to "slip away" from their jobs to come talk with you, why not make it possible for them to interview before or after normal work hours? Or on the weekend? Not only are you helping them keep their commitment to their current employer -- which says a lot about you -- but they'll also be less stressed because they're not sneaking away to interview at another company.

2. Interview in groups. (This strategy is unique, saves time, and gives you a comparative glimpse of who's in the pool of possibilities.) Invite all potential candidates for an open position to a "group meeting" where you:

  • Tell the whole group about your organization and what it's like to work here
  • Answer their initial questions
  • Watch for the dynamics among the players. Who speaks up? Who's late? Who is most courteous to the other contenders? Etc.
  • Then, have each candidate spend 5-10 structured minutes with a member of senior management. Only the strongest candidates are invited back for more in-depth interviews.

3. Interview -- and make your hiring decisions -- more quickly than others in your market. Now don't get me wrong. I'm not saying, "Rush the interviewing and hiring process." I am suggesting though that there's value in establishing a tight, but realistic, timeframe for the whole recruiting and hiring process ---and then sticking faithfully to it. You stay focused on who's who in your applicant pool and those in your applicant pool stay focused on you and your open position.

4. Interview using questions tailored specifically for your organization's culture. Is motivation a big deal? Ask about how someone knows they're doing a good job. Are you wanting to recruit the most creative minds? Ask why they make manhole covers round. (The answer: Because covers of any other simple geometric shape could fall through.)

Photo on flickr by ManHole.ca

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