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The First Step to a Great Interview Process

Mastering the Interview Process

A lot of preparation and planning is involved in establishing and carrying out a successful candidate interview process. But in spite of the name - Interview Process - the first piece to examine is about laying the groundwork. Before you have candidates to review and need to prepare for the actual interviews, it's critical to make sure the first step is implemented, and it's one that occurs long before you schedule the first candidate's interview. It starts when you begin your search. You don't want to waste your time or the candidates' time, so before you begin taking a look at how you conduct the actual interviews - which we'll cover in a subsequent article - you need to first make sure you're getting the right people coming in the door.

The goal of the interview process is to help match the right candidate to the right position. To do that you need to have a full and complete understanding of what the position actually is. Many times people write and post a job vacancy listing based on what the person who was in that position was doing, or what the job description has always been in the past. But that isn't always the complete picture. Job duties change. New duties are added. New skills are needed. Oftentimes old skills aren't necessary anymore, either due to a shift in duties between employees or technological changes. Once you examine it well, you may be surprised to find that the position you are filling is quite different than what it used to be. And that can mean the need to find someone with different skills, experience, and goals.

Skipping this crucial step in the process will not only make interviewing candidates a challenge, but very possibly result in hiring someone who isn't the best fit for the position or your organization. 

  • Talk to the exiting employee, their supervisor, and their co-workers to dig deep and learn what the job entailed, what skills are needed, and if there are any skills they lacked that could have helped them do a better job. You want to learn the reality of the position.
  • Obtain a clear idea of what skills might be needed to fill gaps in the team, not just for that particular position. Finding someone who can add skills that may not currently exist in a team can prove invaluable for both the new hire and your company.
  • Look at the existing job description and duties. Compare it to what you learned from the exiting employee, their manager, and fellow team members. Revise, rewrite, and refine it so it realistically describes the skills and experience needed, as well as the demeanor of the ideal candidate. Picture your ideal new hire, not only from the perspective of education and skills, but also in "soft skills," such as their ability to fit into your corporate culture, follow through on tight deadlines, and work independently.

Once you've determined the actual needs for the position and have written an accurate description of your ideal next new hire, you can take the next steps in the process: posting the position and reviewing resumes. Skipping this crucial first step will not only make interviewing candidates a challenge, but may result in your hiring a candidate who isn't the best fit for the position or your organization.