What Makes A Good Interview?

The Importance of the Interview

“What makes a good interview?”  We first must know what an interview is.  It is the most critical step in the hiring process and you should take it seriously.  It is your opportunity, as the manager, to not only review a candidate’s qualifications, but it is your chance to see if this person is the right fit for you and your team.  Remember, the ability to do the job is only part of what makes a great employee.  Passion, a willingness to go the extra mile, and dedication to the greater good of the team are qualities you should not overlook.  You can teach many “tasks”, but a great attitude and desire to succeed are naturally found in someone.  A great team member never says, “That’s not my job.”  So, determine if their skills are there then follow-up to see if their attitude matches up.

Scan and Select

Review all resumes beforehand and make sure they meet the qualifications for the position.  Do they have the education, the experience, and the skills this position requires?  If this information is unclear, you may need to conduct a phone interview before bringing them into your office.  If they do not possess the necessary qualifications, do not waste your time or theirs.  Chances are they will submit resumes to multiple companies so if you are not the right fit, let them find who is.  Once you’ve determined who your best candidate is – or maybe there are several – set up a phone interview.

On the Phone

When conducting a phone interview, you should ask basic questions designed to narrow the list of candidates.  Prepare ahead so you do not waste time.  Confirm their background, experience, and any other pertinent information.  Ask at least one question relevant to the position to get a feel for their level of expertise.  See how well they handle the call, from the way they answer the phone to the way they communicate.  Are they professional and do they meet the requirements?  If so, schedule a time for them to come in for a face-to-face meeting.

Face-to-Face

The meeting is your chance to talk to the candidate and gain valuable information.  Ask open-ended questions, the type that require them to think and elaborate, and let them talk freely.  You will learn everything you want to know, and more, just by listening.  As they talk, note their body language and gauge how comfortable they are.  Also, ask yourself the following questions: Did they prepare for the interview?  Did they arrive on time?  Is their attire professional and did they offer a firm handshake?

A hiring manager I know was interviewing candidates for a receptionist position at a medical practice.  She had interviews lined up all morning and had told the current receptionist to turn anyone away who was late.  It turns out she should have told her to refuse anyone who wasn’t dressed professionally.  All candidates were at least ten minutes early, but two of them were in what appeared to be pajama pants.  Their qualifications were excellent, but their lack of professionalism in such an important moment said it all.  What’s the old saying: “You don’t get a second chance to make a great first impression.”  As a manager, a person’s credentials should impress you, but so should the way they present themselves.

Go the Extra Mile

During the interview, take time to tell them about the position and make sure they have a true understanding of what the job entails.  If possible, bring them to the area where they would work and introduce them to the team.  It is important they understand exactly what the position requires so they can decide if this is truly for them.  This will save you valuable time in the future and minimize your attrition rate.

Lastly, be professional at all times and stay on topic.  Be ready to answer any questions they may have, including salary and benefits, especially if this is a position which requires a highly sought-after set of skills.  Understand they will expect some room for negotiation.  Everyone likes to feel valued, so give yourself room to accommodate.  At the same time, if you feel this person may not be the right one, there is no need to discuss compensation details.  Simply thank them for their time and move on.

If you make a connection and wish to move forward, let them know you will put together an offer letter and send it out within one week.  Use discretion when discussing salary and benefits in an interview.  Present these details in writing so there is no misunderstanding of terms.  When negotiating salary, remember to mention any other perks they may find valuable, e.g. a car allowance or a gas card.  You may also present these in the compensation package.

You’ve Got This!

Interviewing can be a tedious task, and it’s the least favorite of many managers.  Your ability to select candidates who will be assets to your team will strengthen your business and elevate its success.  Stay confident, keep a smile on your face, and take the time to pick the right candidate.

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3 Quick Ways To Advance Your Career

Lead, So Others Will Follow

Managers never stop trying to better themselves and advance their careers.  To be an effective leader, you have to give your team a reason to follow you.  People want someone to look up to.  They want someone who leads by example and who cares about their success.  Leaders never stop learning – whether it’s reading books, articles, or blogs – they always look for ways to increase their knowledge and skills.  Leaders know that success is a journey and they constantly pursue it.

Here are 3 quick ways you can advance your career:

Forecast

The past is history, the future is a mystery, and the present is a gift.  History is a moment ago, or a lifetime ago, and can’t be changed.  You can, however, learn from it.  Analyze what happened, find the lesson, and move on. The future is unknown but being prepared is a strength all good leaders possess.  Learn to forecast, to look ahead, and you can prevent issues from ever happening.  You will also be able to make better, more educated decisions.  The moment you are in is indeed a gift. The opportunities you will be given as a manager will range from a small decision with little impact, such as what time to close the office for lunch, to business-altering decisions that will mean success or failure.  Relish in these moments, but remember you are leading a team and they will be watching your every move.

Formulate

Once you have learned to forecast, you will have the information you need to formulate a strong plan of action.  Take an inventory of your assets, your team’s strengths, and delegate accordingly.  It is your responsibility to make sure you communicate your vision to your team.  Don’t leave room for interpretation; everyone should have a clear understanding of what you expect and of what the goals are.

Trust

Once you forecast, create a plan of action and delegate to your team based on their strengths.  Determine the keys for success and assign the right person for each job.  Trust they will successfully complete their assignments.  This is very important, as you will be expected to start planning the next project.  You will still need to manage the completion of the project, but you should be able to rely on your team to do the heavy lifting.

As you start your next project, keep these things in mind:  Look to the future instead of the past, create a plan of action, educate your team, delegate, and trust your team to successfully complete their assignments.  And remember: success is a journey, not a destination.

3 Ways To Be More Productive At Work

Activity Doesn’t Equal Productivity

Have you ever walked by an employee who was busily shuffling papers and moving items on their desk? They manage to look as though they have a million things going on yet are the most unprepared at meetings and often miss deadlines.  As a manager, you do not have the luxury of just “looking busy” – you ARE busy.  As a great manager, you must know how to manage your time, so you meet deadlines and accomplish tasks.  How do you do it?

As a manager, it’s all about speed and efficiency.  The faster you can successfully complete your day to day tasks, the faster you can get to the projects that truly require your time and attention.  Undivided attention is a premium in the world of management but is required for successful projects.  In the world of business, multitasking is not productive.  So, here are 3 ways to be more productive at work, so you can focus on what really matters:

Turn Off Your Notifications

Hey you…  Yeah you.  Stop staring at your phone.  As a leader there is nothing worse than always looking at your phone.  If you’re connecting with your phone, you are not connecting with your team.  Your projects will also suffer from the lack of attention.  A simple glance to check the latest notification will take you off track when working on a project, and you will have to waste valuable time getting back on track.

Avoid Email

There is no one thing that sucks up more of your time out of your work day than email.  There is no need to check your email so often.  Once mid-morning and once at the end of the day is more than enough.  If something is truly that important, it deserves a phone call.  In most cases a 2-minute phone call can save countless minutes of back and forth emails.

Create Check Lists

Create daily and/or weekly check lists, not to-do lists.  This will save you and your team time and help to avoid errors.  It will also free your mind from the pressure of remembering mundane tasks, so you can focus your attention on the important business you have to complete. Simply check the boxes as you go, and you will know it was completed right the first time.  It will happen you don’t complete everything on your list.  Move it to the top of the next day’s list and commit to completing it.  More often than not, an incomplete check list is due to poor planning or unrealistic prioritizing.  Find a system that works for you and stick to it.  It will save time and stress.

It’s all about maximizing your time.  Can you use your commute to check the news, read the latest article, or even check your email so you don’t have to take time away from your work day?  Take a closer look at your day and you’ll realize there are plenty of ways to re-gain time.  For example, do your daily meetings really need to be an hour long, or can you cut it down to 30 minutes by staying on point.  So, turn off your notifications, avoid your email, create check lists, stop reading this, and get back to work. Break time is over!