Tips for Interviewing Professional Employees


How to Find the RIGHT Candidates During the Hiring Process

I’ll be honest, interviewing potential employees is not my favorite part of my job. But, it’s so crucial to have a good process for finding the right people, especially for small businesses where every role is extremely visible.

In a dozen years of owning my own website development agency, I’ve gone through a variety of hiring methods trying to figure out the best way to find people who are both a good culture fit and possess the right skills. Generally, I follow the same process you probably do: identify candidates, screen, interview, due diligence and offer. However! I’ve landed on some specific nuances throughout this process that have been serving me really well.

I’d like to share them with you. Honestly, it’s in my best interest, because I may end up working with the person you hire! Feel free to steal all or part of it. In fact, I’ve even included a free download of the scorecard we use (more about that in a bit).

Identifying the Right Candidate

There are a lot of different ways you can go about creating a shortlist of candidates you want to talk to, from having candidates send resumes to an email address to using expensive candidate platforms.

Tip #1: Use a Real Application
I like to use a real application process. I used to just take resumes, but I found I had some specific questions that resumes just weren’t answering. The application makes it easier for me to do an initial screening for the right skills. Candidates fill out a brief set of questions in addition to their resume, which gives me a better sense of who they are.

The Screening Call

Next, a quick phone conversation that proves the candidate has some basic communication skills and confirms the skills and job position fit.

Tip #1: Use a Similarly-Skilled Employee
Once I (and likely members of my team) I culled down the applicants, I like to have one of my team members who’s in the position we’re hiring for do the actual screening call. They’re going to be the best evaluators of whether or not that person is worth further consideration. Yes, it takes time. But I’d rather do that than have an HR person who knows nothing about coding deciding who I should interview about a web development job.

Tip #2: Have Them Take a Personality Test (Post-Call)
If they make it through your screening call, insert one more step between here and the interview: a personality test. There are a lot out there, and it really depends on which one you feel best reflects your company and culture. At Skyhook, we use DiSC Profile.

The Interview

I think this part is where I’ve spent the most time testing out different things, and I’m pretty happy with the way we handle these now.

Tip #1: Have the Screener Prep Interview Materials
When getting ready for the in-person interviews, I have the person who did the screening call pull together a candidate packet for each person who will be conducting the interview. This way, everyone has a chance to see the application, resume, screening notes and personality test results so they can be fully prepared.

Tip #2: Conduct a Fluid Interview
I found rigidly-structured interviews slotted into a snug timeframe just didn’t give me a good enough feel for the person we’re talking to. So, I like to keep the timing fluid and plan my and my team’s time accordingly. If the interview isn’t going well, end it early. There’s no need to put everyone through the full process if we know that it’s not going to be a good fit. On the flip side, if it’s going well, spend more time getting to know the candidate.

One other nuance I want to address about the fluid interview process: Assess culture first, then skill. Focus too much on skill and you’ll end up with employees who can do the job, but who the rest of your team hates working with. Culture fit is such an underestimated facet of hiring. Make sure you like them before you’d consider hiring them.

Tip #3: Role-Play Real Scenarios
I used to ask people to tell me how they’d handle certain work scenarios, but it seemed like I always got a flat, canned answer. I like to role play instead, where I act as the client and spend several minutes playing out an interaction. This gives me a much better sense of how they would actually respond in the moment and what their communication style is like.

Tip #4: Confer with Your Team on the Spot
Once the interview is nearly finished, I like to step out with my team and get consensus on the spot on whether or not this person would be a good fit for Skyhook and for the role of if we need to go back and dig in more. If they are, we move into offer talk and due diligence. If not, we end politely and the search continues.

Interview Bonus Tip: Use a Scorecard (FREE download)
It helps to have a way to quantify interviews. We use this handy scorecard, tailored for each type of position, that the team will use during both the screening call and the interview, to rate the candidates based on factors that are important to our organization, from core values to skills.

And here’s that freebie I promised:Download Scorecard Sample & Template


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Guide to Interviewing a Web Development Agency

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