The Best Interviewing Techniques to Hire the Perfect Candidate

The Best Interviewing Techniques to Hire the Perfect Candidate
by Kaitlin King
Photos Stephanie Yang | October 06, 2016
So you’re tasked with finding that magical rainbow unicorn in the densely crowded forest that will be the perfect new hire for your special company. No big deal.
It might seem like finding the right candidate mostly involves a Professional LinkedIn subscription and a whole lot of luck, but there’s actually a more systematic approach to a successful search. Try this:

1. before interviewing, Talk shop with 2-3  stakeholders

It’s important that before any official job description is drafted, you and those who care most about this role determine what goals, duties, and capabilities need to be fulfilled for the role to be successful. You should absolutely treat writing a job description as a discussion. 

Examples of common stakeholders you should include in the hiring process include: the reporting manager, Human Resources, department lead, or team partner. These people should form the core hiring team. They should advise now because later they’ll get involved in screening, interviewing, and making an offer. Since your colleagues’ success depends on the person they’re hiring, everyone is responsible and empowered to find the best fit. This teamwork is key.

In the initial brainstorming phase, instead of naming general traits like “organizational skills,” think about what the person will need to do specifically with those skills. For example, maybe it’s the ability to organize a global team around decisions and keep the customer in-the-know about progress. Write these out completely, filling out a list of at least 10 key tasks and responsibilities. Make these as custom fit to your team and company as possible.

2. Tailor a job description to attract the ideal candidate

Take your list of items from step 1, but think about what type of language would peak a person’s interest. You need to sell yourself as much as the candidate. Is this a junior role? Think about the potential this role has for growth and mentorship, and lay that out in the description. Is it a role in R&D? Think about how your company is innovating, and invite the candidate to contribute ideas. 

Top talent isn’t interested in a lengthy checklist of tasks, instead they want to be challenged, to grow, to solve interesting problems. Tell a story with your job ad, and make it one directly pointed at your ideal candidate. 

Post this beautiful ad on social recruiting platforms like LinkedIn, Indeed, Glassdoor, and specialized job boards, but don’t forget to send it out to current employees as well. The best hires are references, meaning your staff are your best head hunters. 

3. Use an evidence-based interviewing technique

Now with your team of stakeholders, determine who will:
  • Do a first-time general interview
  • Do an in-depth technical or topical interview
  • Interview for culture fit.
Remember those core tasks the employee will need to perform to be successful? Bust those out in all three of the interviews, and tailor questions that will help you gather evidence that the candidate can indeed fulfill the tasks in each category. You’re like a detective, finding concrete examples that prove the candidate could do the job.

You can format your questions like: “Tell me about a time when x” or, “What would you do in x situation?” You’re looking for specific qualities, knowledge, and understanding in the interviewee’s answers, so feel free to push them to expand if you’re not getting what you’re asking for. Encourage all the interviewers to take good notes along the way.

When it comes down to the final candidates, gather the hiring team, refer to your notes, and take a pick. We all have feelings and inklings and intuition that will influence our decisions in hiring, but with the evidence everyone has gathered, it will be easy to refer to hard data as well as make a balanced choice.

Now it’s just lather, rinse, repeat for the rest of your managerial career. 
Best of luck, and let us know how it goes!