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Conducting a Successful Staff Interview

Kristin Hilton Comments

Recruiting plays a huge part in any organization’s overall success. It starts with the company’s people, and finding the right ones can and will be difficult. That’s why it’s essential to have a clear direction when beginning the hiring process. An organization must have directives from the top down to ensure it is being consistent in its practices.

The Interview

When preparing for an interview, there are a few key things to keep in mind. First, understand your business. You should be able to tell the candidate about your company’s vision, mission and values. Also, clearly define the competencies needed to perform the job successfully. The interviewee should thoroughly read through each resume/application and prepare questions in advance. Finally, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Reach out to co-workers or your human-resources department if you have questions about the interview process.

The interview itself can be a difficult time for both the interviewer and interviewee. To make the process successful, here are a few useful tips:

  • It’s OK to ask the candidate about gaps in his employment. His reasons may be just, and you shouldn’t assume anything negative about lengths of unemployment.
  • Always ask why he is interested in the position. What made him apply to your company? You’re looking for the candidate to tell you what he’s looking for a career, not just a job.
  • Look for is whether the candidate makes consistent eye contact. This is a sign of confidence and overall professionalism.
  • Ask open-ended questions and try to keep the candidate engaged at all times.

Behavioral interviewing questions are critical in finding the right person for your organization. These types of questions present the candidate with a hypothetical situation, for example, “Your co-worker has just approached you in a very unprofessional manner and other employees were present. How would you handle this situation?” The candidate may take a few moments to ponder his response, and that’s alright. Just focus on the response, not how much time it took him to come up with it.

Remember to ask one question at a time. Don’t overwhelm the candidate with multiple questions because he will tend to lose focus. Don’t interrupt the candidate. Take notes as he responds and formulate questions to ask after he is done. Finally, follow your instincts. More often than not, they will prove to be correct.

Interviewing Taboos

While it’s important to know what to do during an interview, it’s equally important know what not to do. First, the interview is the candidate’s time to shine, not yours, so avoid showing off. Second, don’t break the law! Make sure the questions you are asking are appropriate and, more important, legal.

Finally, don’t get too personal with the candidate. Remain focused on the position you are trying to fill and whether this person will be a good fit for it. You want to stay friendly and personable, but that can be accomplished without going over the line of professionalism. You represent the first impression of the organization to the candidate. It’s critical to ensure it’s a positive one all around.

After the Fact

After the interview, always follow-up with the candidate in a timely manner to let him know if the position has been filled. This can be done through a phone call, e-mail or standardized letter to his home address. It’s a nice touch many employers seem to bypass and candidates truly appreciate.

These recommendations are just some of the ways an organization can be fruitful in the hiring process. Recruiting is an essential part of any company. With the right people in place, your chances of overall success greatly increase. 

Kristin Hilton is director of human resources for Simply Self Storage, which owns and develops self-storage facilities. The company is a subsidiary of OB Cos., headquartered in Orlando, Fla. For more information, call 407.248.7878; visit

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