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Executive Suite

Tips to Interview a Hire, not a Fire

By Steve Margalit, FPC Recruitment Training Consultant

Phone Interviews

In most cases, phone interviews are conducted in a stand-alone manner.  To clarify, the candidate has a scheduled call with one member of the hiring team.  This person then determines the next steps of the hiring process to be completed at a later date.  Aside from the fact that only one person gets to weigh in on the candidate, it also increases the likelihood that the candidate will be explicitly prepped in advance of each call to the point that it becomes rather robotic.  I’m not convinced that this helps you get an unfiltered feel for your candidate and his/her potential fit for your organization.  For this early stage of the interview process, why not schedule two phone interviews back to back rather than the stand-alone call?  This can help you accomplish two things, first, you speed up the first two rounds of the interview process (a rapidly moving process is always a good thing), and second, you have two voices comparing notes on personality among other traits before determining the candidate’s fate.

Panel interviews

A panel interview can be an extremely useful way to assess new candidates.  Using a panel style interview can be fairly nerve-wracking for a potential candidate, so one advantage to this format is seeing how they may perform under pressure.  Here is where you can provide your executive recruiter with some information about the format and the members of the panel.  The executive recruiter can then set the stage for the candidate.  Seeing how well they take instruction and prepare for the meeting can be an additional barometer for the decision makers.  Having multiple interviewers means that each panelist may observe different aspects of a candidate’s skill or character, helping to create a better overall picture of the interviewee.  Following a panel interview, team members can discuss their various impressions of the candidate and voice their individual concerns.  Polling for approval or disapproval of a potential candidate can help in guiding the hiring process.  Another benefit is back and forth discussion, as the candidate’s attributes can be better assessed through active conversation.  The fresh perspective of each panel member can also help during the interview itself, coming up with different questions to put to the candidate to acquire further information.

Offsite Meeting

If your candidate makes it through the early rounds of the process, the offsite meeting is a good final test for compatibility before you draw up the offer.  Why offsite?  Your goal is to see how the candidate conducts themselves in a social situation.  An in-office interview is very sterile and there are no real surprises to assess the candidate’s behavior.  Whether in a coffee shop, or a restaurant, an offsite meeting adds several variables that can only occur by chance.  How did the candidate greet people entering the building?  Are they self-aware?  Is the candidate easily distracted?  Do they chew with their mouth open?  Answers to these questions will help you determine how or if the candidate fits into your organization.  This is particularly important if the role requires interaction with your clients and/or vendors.  It’s an added step in the interview process, but a well worthwhile one in properly vetting for the right candidate to present your offer.

Your company’s interview process doesn’t have to be the same for every open position.  Be receptive to customizing your process to help you make the right decision on the best candidate for each particular role.  If it means testing for the ‘cool hand’ under pressure, or the ‘charismatic’ team leader, don’t leave things to chance.  The success of your company depends on it.  You have an opportunity to get to know your candidates, don’t pass it up.  Good luck, and let us know how we can help.

FPC is an executive search firm comprised of over 60 offices nationwide that specialize in placing middle and executive management professionals. FPC National surveys professionals to gain better insights on workplace and job hunting trends.

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