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Interviewing - How Should Hiring Managers Prepare to find the Ideal Candidate?

Q. I have just been moved into a management role, and am being asked to hire an administrative person who will report to me. I am not used to being on the hiring side of the desk. I have interviewed people, but I’m not sure what to pay attention to when I am trying to hire a person that I will work with very closely. I know there is more to this than “do I like them” -- please give me clues on how to do this right the first time.

A. Job search candidates often wonder what is going on in the hiring manager’s mind, how they get selected for an offer, or why they don’t get that offer. With the process you are going through now, we can try to shed some light on the inner workings of the issues around hiring people. There are 5 points that hiring managers focus on, and candidates should keep these in mind if they hope to get the offer.

Whether you are using an agency, posting an ad, or networking to find the right candidate, you need to start with the job description. This document describes the tasks and responsibilities of the job, Point 1: the Skill Set -- specific knowledge, and educational background needed to be successful in the role. In the interview, or on the resume, you need to ensure you see the capabilities to do the job, either through a demonstrated ability or the transferable skills. You might also include Point 2: The Interpersonal Attributes -- on the job description if you believe they will be important to fit into the current culture. Is yours a team or independent work environment? Is there a great deal of direction provided, or do you need to be a solo-problem solver? Are you looking for people who love to multi-task, or highly methodical process people. There are no right or wrong answers – only right for your job and your environment. So develop honest answers to what is needed to be successful in your organization, and make sure you give the person the chance to tell you about their style.

What would work best interpersonally if a person is going to be added to a work group, or working with you? Is this a job that faces the public frequently where a significant introvert wouldn’t be happy. Or is it in a quiet office where an extrovert would be in the halls looking for people to make connections? Either of these can be appropriate in the right environment, and the reason you are trying to find the right match is Point 3: will they stay?

Turnover among staff takes up significant time and resources in any organization. It takes time to interview, create transition plans, and dedicate training time and resources for the new hire. Upheaval follows even with the most well organized plan. No one wants to have to go through the process again in any short period of time, so part of the hiring process is trying to gauge how long a person will stay. Will this job keep them engaged and give them opportunities to learn on the job. Is it at the right level so they aren’t overwhelmed but challenged enough? Does it make sense for them to be looking at this role?

All those answers lead into Point 4: Future Potential. Can you see this person staying long enough to grow into another role? It may not be up the ladder, but it might be another opportunity within your organization. If they are looking for advancement in 3 to 6 months, and that is barely enough time to be fully trained in this role, you put yourself into the next round of interviews. If you see the person offering a longer term relationship, bring stability to the organization.

Point 5: Are there obstacles to success for this person that you see, which they might not? Is this the first time the person has had to drive to work as opposed to taking the T – will that be an issue? Review any issues you foresee.

Get second opinions. Share what you are looking for in the ideal candidate, and have other people interview and provide feedback. Hopefully you will meet skilled candidates who can help you identify why they are right for the job. Hiring well is a skill that can be developed.

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