Interviewing Tips for Hiring Managers

    Today’s job seeker is savvier than ever before. Countless career-related websites offer free information on resume construction, interview etiquette and employment statistics. Affordable professional coaches stand ready to guide the career minded through the rough waters of salary and benefits negotiation. And an explosion of self-help career books is transforming even green college grads into well-groomed candidates. Add a tight job market to the mix and hiring managers are faced with a tough challenge – getting the right person for the right money.

    So how do interviewers see past the polish to uncover a candidate’s real character and ability? Author Tim Toterhi has gathered the following advice from professional hiring managers.

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    Click through for 10 interviewing tips for hiring managers, from author Tim Toterhi.

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    If you’re not a fulltime HR person with primary hiring responsibility, you may feel uneasy during the interview. This is normal. To combat nervousness, try taking a deep breath, speaking slowly, and working from notes. Remember, most candidates will be so busy concealing their sweaty palms, they won’t have time to notice yours.

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    Many novice interviewers feel pressure to carry the conversation. They rush through questions, cut off candidates, and fill uncomfortable silences with needless small talk. Allow the candidate time to think and respond. You’ll both be more effective if you learn to ask questions and then be quiet.

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    Most job candidates are smart enough to end the interview with a few questions of their own. This alone, however, should not impress you. Quality people will ask quality questions, ones that focus on the points raised during your conversation. Be wary of those who ask for simple information that is readily available on the company’s website.

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    Test a candidate’s listening and organizational skills by asking two- and three-part questions. For example, “How did you go about developing and implementing your project plan and what internal resources did you capitalize on to make it happen?” Such questions also try critical thinking skills and poise.

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    It is safe to assume that many of today’s candidates will arrive with professionally written resumes and stock answers to typical interview questions. Standard questions such as “Do you enjoy working in teams or alone?” may be challenging for entry-level employees, but will reveal little when asked of seasoned managers. Rephrase tired questions to overcome the memorization factor. You can also have them respond in the context of a real-life business situation with examples of how they performed.

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    Based on the idea that people develop patterns of behavior, this technique allows you to derive an indication of future performance based on prior action. Simply present a situation (conflict with a co-worker, customer service issue, technical problem, etc.) and ask the candidate how he or she handled it in the past. Then ask what they learned from the experience and how they would handle it in the future.

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    One way to get past prepared answers and hypothetical discussions is to walk through a candidate’s employment history and ask for specific examples of when they rose above their job description. Specifically, ask for a Challenging situation they faced, the Action they took to resolve it, and the Result they achieved.

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    Gut check questions like, “What makes you the right person for this position?” are a great way to uncover a candidate’s character. You can also press them on touted accomplishments such as “increased productivity” by asking for specifics.

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    In today’s tough economic environment, many hiring managers are tempted to drive down salaries in hopes of stretching their annual budget. However, it is never a good idea to short change employees. In addition to obvious internal equity issues, competitors easily poach employees who are paid on the low end of the pay scale when demand increases.

    For best results, work with your compensation professional and/or consult salary data. Then offer a competitive package that meets the needs of both parties.

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    Panel interviews allow the potential employee to be questioned by coworkers, managers and HR professionals simultaneously. In addition to being cost- and time-effective, one panelist may make an important observation overlooked by others.

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    When a job candidate describes achievements in terms of “We,” be wary. It may be a sign of modesty or strong team affiliation. However, in some cases it could indicate an enhancement of one’s credentials. Avoid uncertainty by asking about the specific role the candidate played in the project.

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