Above view of young consultant shaking hands with client

3 must-do’s when interviewing a candidate

Have you ever left an interview thinking, “I should’ve have asked about that”? Did you ever feel like you didn’t get the information you actually needed to make the right decision? Maybe you aren’t exactly sure what you’re looking for besides to “get to know the person.”

We’ve all felt the pain and seen the expense of a bad hire. We need to find out how to effectively avoid the bad apples more often so we can focus on retaining the good ones Investing in smart interviews is costly, but making a bad hire is far more costly. Here are three achievable interviewing must-do’s.

Decide on non-negotiable traits

“Diane is a rockstar at management and communication. So doesn’t that over-rule that she’s missing that one important technical skill?”Maybe. But you need to decide what the non-negotiable traits are for the role with your team, and decide before you go in to the interview. Agree, and write them down. Now, each panel interviewer is assigned to screen for one, or at most two, non-negotiable traits. It’s important to know what you are evaluating for, and how you are evaluating. Discuss and decide ahead of time what information determines a pass or fail for each of the traits. This process encourages everyone present to be focused and objective in their evaluation.

Ask questions that make them tell principles, not methods

Methods change regularly with technology and culture. Principles dictate your team’s actions regardless of which methods the team chooses. Talk through and write down a few core principles your team operates by before you sit down to interview.

When you discuss the principles, also talk through and write down questions that make the interviewee talk about their own principles. Are these principles in alignment, or do they run counter to your team’s core principles? Take note when your hear them demonstrated. Ask clarifying questions to allow them to elaborate on the principles that drive them.

Choose (and trust) your veto-team

Decide on a few people who should have veto-power. This means if they say “no hire” and everyone else says “hire”, it’s still “no-hire. This may seem harsh, but it helps when there is pressure on everyone to prevent a decision being made hastily. Include a senior team-mate or two, not just their superiors.

Let each person with veto-power answer “yes” or “no” on a sheet of paper anonymously after they’ve each had a chance to interview the person for 20-30 minutes. Make them answer right after the interview. Maybe is a “no.”

This policy creates ownership in each hiring decision through onboarding. Explaining to each member of the veto-team why they’ve been chosen and how you trust them will inspire them to make the most of their interviews and be increasingly committed to the team.