Step 4: Getting from a name to a face
If you haven't yet read Step 1, click here to start at the beginning of this series.
Your short list (usually about five candidates or fewer) is drawn up from those that most closely align to your listed requirements. You need to work through this process at a reasonable pace as shoddy and delayed replies portray an indifferent and disorganised management style. This could lead to your best candidate’s saying ‘thanks, but no thanks’ as they have become disinterested because of the long time that has elapsed with no contact. Once you have your short list, make contact with each one, and set up an interview date.
Interviews hold pitfalls for the unwary. Suffice it to say that you need to stay focused on your job description while also being attuned to your inner voice that often comes from an undefined place, but just leaves you with a slight sense of unease, or perhaps a sense of heightened energy through engaging with this person. But beware of liking, and hiring, someone just because he did his homework and has arrived wearing the old boys’ tie from your school! Suitable appearance and good grooming of the candidate are important, but an initial impression, whether positive or negative, can have a lasting impression on the interviewing team and cause them to make a decision too early on in the interview. In similar vein, some negative aspect, even something fairly trivial, could colour the entire interview and a wise interviewer will try to draw out the positive aspects of the candidate in order to restore the balance. Interviewers tend to be very aware of any trait that could be perceived as being negative as they fear making an unwise choice. This could lead to their excluding a very suitable candidate based on rather a ‘non-issue’. Try not to be excited and swayed by traits that bear no resemblance to the job description for which you are hiring the candidate. The winner of Idols SA will not necessarily be your best bookkeeper!
Create an interviewing environment where good communication can take place. Prepare good questions that are linked to the job description, in advance so that you can be sure to cover the basics. Include additional questions gleaned from the candidate’s CV which should have been well perused beforehand. Yes, I have seen interviewers reading a cv for the first time at an interview while trying to formulate questions! This would make a good candidate have serious misgivings about the quality of the management of the organisation as it creates the impression of sloppiness and indifference to the dignity of the candidate. Remember that the ratio of talking needs to be about 40% by the interviewer, 60% by the candidate.
After all the interviews have been completed, you should have a ranked list of candidates, each with a score based on how well they aligned with the dimensions of the job description.
Step 5 will look at psychometric testing and the how-to of reference checking.
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