The key to an effective interview process is structure and consistency. If you fly by the seat of your pants each time you need to fill a position, you’re not guaranteeing that applicants are all treated fairly and you may miss an opportunity to secure a qualified, talented hire.

Instead, you should have a standing job description for each position in your company, a profile for what an ideal candidate would look like, and a set of questions designed to identify that perfect person. You need to plan out an appropriate amount of time for the search and for each round of interviews.

Develop consensus about the role.

Everyone involved in the hiring process need to agree on exactly what position is needed and why. Together, you should generate a description of the ideal candidate and rank the “must-haves,” “should-haves,” and “nice-to-haves.”

Create interview questions.

Make sure you cover both straightforward fact-based questions and open-ended questions about the candidate’s behavior in the past and insight into a potential future. You should also establish who’s asking what during the interview to avoid redundancies and awkward interruptions.

Assign an initial screener.

This person should sort through the resumes to weed out the weaker candidates and narrow down a list of ten or so candidates to interview.

Keep score.

During the interview, distribute a template to everyone to quickly jot notes, comments, and quotes. After the interview, have each interview fill out a score sheet as soon as possible, while memories are still fresh. Write down favorite moments or anything that sticks out and evaluate the candidate on a numerical scale.

Remember that during the interview, the candidate should be speaking about 70% of the time. Be sure to shake hands at the beginning and gain a sense of the person’s confidence, poise, and enthusiasm.

Create a to-do list.

Each person on the hiring team should be responsible for checking references, scheduling a second interview, or keeping the candidates informed of the process, just to keep the ball rolling.

Make the offer.

Know ahead of time what your company is willing to spend on a salary, benefits, and a signing bonus. And know if there are any additional perks that you can provide to secure the best candidate.

After the hire is made, the hiring team should keep in touch to review the whole process, discuss successes and inefficiencies and the overall strength of the hire. Keep track of any relevant data and use those numbers to make any adjustments.

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