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Hiring in itself isn’t difficult; hiring the right people is the real challenge. The financial cost of a mis-hire can cost your company hundreds of thousands of dollars, not to mention the team demotivation, loss of focus, and other negative aspects of a mishire. So why is it still such a common problem for many companies?

In short, a poor hire is the result of a poor hiring decision, which results from a poor interview. The key to hiring the right people is to remove the guesswork from your decisions and avoid the most prevalent interview pitfall—the dreaded “gut instinct” decision. Every hiring decision should involve a careful analysis of each candidate’s strengths and weaknesses. An accurate analysis requires data, which is obtained during your interview process. If your interview process is flawed, your data will also be flawed. So what’s the best way to make sure you’re capturing the right information during your interviews? Here are 5 tips you can implement today.

1. Do your homework.

Before every interview, you need to prepare as much as the interviewee. Read over the candidate’s resume and outline an interview plan on a piece of paper. Familiarize yourself with their previous employers/positions and identify any “areas of concern”—things like gaps in work history or inconsistent information. Identifying potential red flags ahead of time lets you prepare questions to dig into those issues.

2. Listen more than you talk.

Follow the 80/20 rule. If you were to record your interview, when playing it back, the candidate should take up 80 percent of the air time and you should take up the remaining 20 percent. By following this rule, you let the candidate show you how smart they are and sell you on their qualifications. Interviewers who talk too much tend to hire a disproportionate amount of people because they never have time to learn enough about the candidate to make an informed hiring decision. You need to let the candidate do more than agrees with everything you say.

3. Let your enthusiasm show.

As you talk to a candidate, it’s important to remember that they are looking to you for clues about how happy and satisfied you are at work. So show them why you love the company so they get excited about the prospect of working for you. In order to really sell them, find out more about what they are looking for in their next position so you can tell them how your company will help them get there. (And don't forget about maximizing the candidate experience!) However, this doesn’t mean you should explain who you are and what your company does—that’s homework they should have done on their own before the interview.

4. Ask open-ended behavioral questions.

Behavioral interview questions use a candidate’s previous work experiences as a more accurate predictor of future performance. These questions typically start with, “Tell me about a time when…” or “Describe a situation where you…” Behavioral questions are also more difficult for a candidate to prepare for and therefor elicit more candid responses. A candidate’s response should always explain the specific situation, what action they took, and what the result was. Always dig deeper into a candidate’s response by asking probing questions to see how their answer stands up under scrutiny.

5. Give the candidate time to ask you questions.

You can tell almost as much from a candidate’s questions as from their answers. Great candidates ask great questions. Why? Because they have done their research ahead of time and have a list of relevant, job-specific questions to ask you. If they are genuinely interested in the position, then their questions will reflect that. It should be a warning sign if a candidate has no questions at the end of your interview, or worse—if they have a list of canned generic interview questions they found on a website under the heading: “How to ace the interview: Ask these 20 questions!”

Ultimately, hiring should be an analytical process. Before you start to hire for a position, you should set a bar to compare candidates against. After every interview, you should have reached a binary “hire” or “no hire decision” based on whether that bar was reached. If you have doubts about a candidate, your answer should be simple “no hire!”

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