Selecting the Right Individual for Your Team: The Second Interview
Let’s quickly review the importance of the first interview, done by phone.
Let’s quickly review the importance of the first interview, done by phone. Doubtlessly, you want to find someone who doesn’t find mediocrity acceptable! You want a super achiever. You can find this trait in any person who demonstrates three primary qualities:
1. Drive and determination to succeed.
2. Willingness to learn.
3. Ability to learn — and retain new information.
So, by now you have narrowed it down to 3-4 qualified candidates whom you’d like to meet for a face-to-face interview to learn more about them. Keep in mind, experience is not the principle basis for selection. The 3 qualities above are. For sales and/or customer service positions, you also want to look for a warm, friendly attitude.
In the course of the second interview, be certain to identify problems and/or opportunities that arise from the answers given to you by the candidate. Be observant of answers to your questions that disclose either a significant negative or positive attitude. Additional questions on these topics should immediately follow the applicant’s answers. Such questions will have to be created by you, as they will address a specific situation that suddenly comes to your attention. Pursue the subject with more probing questions until you discover the answers to any concern you may have. On the other hand, you may also discover that this prospective candidate has more potential than previously imagined. In that case, pursue such an opportunity to a greater degree with additional questions.
If the shortcoming is sufficient to negate the potential value of the applicant, do not allow the interview to go any further. Terminate it simply by saying to the interviewee, “I’m sorry, I don’t think you are the right candidate for this job.”
Some situations that fall into this category are:
- Inability to stand on feet for more than one hour.
- Consistent negativity about various topics.
- Negative attitude toward prior employers.
- Inability to stay focused in interview.
- Others you may discover on your own.
However, if you have uncovered more significant positive characteristics and have created a more favorable impression about an individual, then by all means do continue interviewing and continue discussions relating to the positive aspects that you like. At this point, however, I would caution you not to elevate experience over the three characteristics identified above— except where the work history reveals an enhancement of one or more of those characteristics.
After you have finished questioning the interviewee sufficiently and are satisfied that you have a viable candidate, then you will need to commence selling the individual the job.
Some of your questions by this point should have revealed what the person really wants in terms of career and her next job. You need to play up how you have the positive aspects of whatever she seeks— and do not have the negatives that she wishes to avoid. Immediately discuss the superiority of her coming to work for you. Play up especially the following factors:
- No job is dead-end here. Identify the different level of jobs and how promotions can be obtained.
- Discuss the reward system and how it works. Especially show her a copy of the 30- 60- and 90-day goal page (either a blank version or one with some goals already identified).
- Discuss training she will receive, from whom she will get different portions of it, how it will affect her ability to perform— and especially how decisively training-oriented you are (and you definitely should be). The fact that you are goal-oriented and put those goals on paper will decisively impress the applicant.
- Discuss the various benefits you offer (as embodied in your employee handbook). Even show her a copy of the handbook. This document likewise impresses the applicant.
After you have fairly well sold the individual, at least somewhat subtly, about wanting to work for you, then you need to extract a little more information.
If your candidate is truly outstanding (at least a 9.0 on your rating scale), then you might consider immediately making her an offer (especially if you’re in a tight labor market). Otherwise, let her know that you will call her back within whatever timetable you want to use (24 hours is recommended for your top choice provided you can perform the reference check). Meanwhile, find out:
- Has she interviewed elsewhere?
- If so, what does she like about the other job opportunities and what does she not like?
- What sort of pay are they offering— and what benefits does she believe she will get if she were to join any of those organizations?
- How does she rank your job opportunity vs. theirs? If you are not in first place, find out what changes are necessary in order for you to be her first choice. Ask, “What would it take to turn this job opportunity into a 10?” Then determine if you can possibly make those changes (including pay rate) to make her a member of your team.
If you are sufficiently interested in this candidate and she has a reasonably good desire to become a member of your team, then it is time for you to sell her even further on the job— and why it should be her #1 choice. Identify things that she does not like in her current or past jobs— also possibly shortcomings in other jobs she has applied for. Then show her how they will not be present in the position you are offering and reassert the positives of what she likes about your business and the job.
Remember you are looking for superstars to become members of your A-Team. In my next article, I will explain how to do a superior reference check.