Your company is growing and you have the need for additional employees. The ads have been run and a number of applicants are, at least on paper, qualified for the positions. It is time to meet with the finalists for face-to-face meetings so that you can decide which candidates will be the ones to help in your company's continued growth.
Conducting interviews is an important part of running a successful business; since your employees are one of your most valuable assets, you must choose wisely. Here are a few tips for conducting interviews:
- Do your homework. Familiarize yourself with the applicant's resume before the interview.
- Make a quick list of questions that you want to ask and information about your company that you want to offer the candidate.
- Be professional. You are representing your company and will give the applicant their first real impression of the working environment. Be on time, dress professionally and use appropriate language.
- Keep in mind that there are a number of questions that the law forbids you to ask. Since employers cannot discriminate on the basis of age, race, gender, religion, national origin or disability, you must be careful in approaching any of these subjects. You do not want to put your company in the position of defending your hiring practices by asking inappropriate questions. Here are a few guidelines in that area:
- You cannot ask an applicant's date of birth, but you may ask them to confirm that they are over 18.
- You cannot ask about a person's citizenship or nation of origin, but you may ask the applicant if he/she is authorized to work in the U.S.
- You cannot ask if an applicant is married, has children or is planning to have children. You may ask the applicant if they will be available for overtime or travel, if it pertains to the position for which they are applying.
- You may not ask a person's height, weight, health history or disabilities. If necessary for the job, you may ask if they are able to lift X number of pounds or work on their feet for 8 hours.
- You may not ask if an applicant has ever been arrested, but you may inquire about convictions regarding specific crimes that may come into play at your place of business.
- You may not ask an applicant if they were honorably discharged from the military, but you are permitted to ask for details on skills that they may have learned during their service.
- Try to see things from the applicant's point of view. Remember that not only are you considering them as a potential employee, they are also sizing up your company as a potential workplace. Offer an honest but upbeat description of the job, as well as the possibility for advancement.
- Be friendly. By creating a relaxed atmosphere, you will allow the interviewee to be open and honest with you.
- Encourage the applicant to ask questions. Their questions will help you to determine where their priorities lie. It would certainly be beneficial to know right up front that his/her biggest concern is being able to run right out the door at 5:00!