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Tips to make your interviews more productive

Today we’re concerned with boosting the success rate of the interviews you conduct. Interviews can be tricky, sensitive things in many ways. But their successful outcome is vital to the maintenance and growth of your company. There are a number of rather simple things that help you set the stage for highly successful interviews. Consider these ingredients as you prepare your interview meetings.

Select the Best Place for Your Interview
Location and environment are important in setting up interviews. Like a bad seat in a theater, sometimes it’s possible for hiring managers to miss a positive candidate, simply because the physical surroundings are uncomfortable. How can you have a more positive experience with a candidate in an interview? Here are a few pointers to ensure that the experience is a good one.

The interview process is about you asking questions and getting honest answers from your candidate. Sometimes these are hard questions to ask and to answer. People buzzing past you and your candidate do not lend itself to a good dialog. The best place for an interview is in your own office, preferably with the door shut. If you live in a cubicle, or if your office resembles a bomb shelter, reserve a space in the conference room or ask a colleague if you can borrow his office.

Where You Sit
Try to avoid conducting an interview sitting behind your desk. Even though you may be the candidate’s next boss, the authoritarian stance of this scenario is often too overwhelming and doesn’t promote good dialog.

Face to Face
I like to sit facing the candidate with the resume on my lap, pen in hand. Judging “body language” is important. Notice particularly whether the candidate remains at ease as difficult questions are posed. Note what gestures are used as he/she makes a point. Does the candidate maintain eye contact with you? These are important things to be best observed when sitting face-to-face with the candidate.

Conference Room Tips
If you use the conference room, have your candidate take a chair that is not directly opposite from you but at the corner of the table either to your right or left. This will promote more dialog as well. Make sure your room is reserved, to cut down on interruptions.

Don’t Take Phone Calls
Sounds obvious, doesn’t it? Well, you’d be surprised how many hiring managers don’t know this. Not only does taking phone calls give the wrong message to the candidate about the importance of the interview, it’s too distracting for you! You’ll lose your train of thought and the risk that the candidate will not come across well gets considerably higher.

Never Conduct First Interview Over Lunch
I don’t care if your office is between the freight elevator and the dumpster, or if your company lives in the worst part of town, where you are located is where your new employee will be working. Always have the first interview at your offices unless there are extenuating circumstances (i.e., you are hiring for a remote location). Besides, lunches can be distracting at a first interview — too much chewing, spilled food, too much waitress banter, etc. For the second interview (and especially if there are highly confidential matters to discuss with your potential employee), lunches can be a fine venue.

If you keep the environment as harmonious as possible during the interview, all your energy will be directed toward the ultimate goal — hiring the best candidate. Good Luck!

Philip Kemper, author of this column, is Founder/President of Kemper Associates, a 37 year old Chicago-based national executive search firm, specializing in Permanent and Contract staffing for Trade Shows and Exhibits, Staging and Equipment Rental, Business Meetings and Events Production, Video, Training and Incentives and more. His more complete bio is on LinkedIn at: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/philip-kemper/2/795/308/ . You may view Kemper Associates’ website at: www.Kemperassociates.net , and contact Phil with questions or comments, and employment needs at: Kemperassoc@hotmail.com, or his private phone line: (312) 944-6551.

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