Successful Interviewing Techniques

By Walley, Edwin N. | The CPA Journal, September 1993 | Go to article overview

Successful Interviewing Techniques


Walley, Edwin N., The CPA Journal


What are you trying to do when interviewing someone? What is the person being interviewed seeking to accomplish? Not only should you be evaluating them for the position you are trying to fill, but at the same time you are selling them on the idea of coming to work for your organization or your client. These two goals go hand in hand, you can do the best job in the world of evaluating someone. while simultaneously turning them off to the job. It is not only the interviewer who can cause the candidate to lose interest; it can be anyone in the firm.

SOURCES OF CANDIDATES

Resumes are a source, if your firm is listed in a career opportunities handbook that many state societies prepare, you are assured of a steady flow of resumes. However, for a more specialized position, advertisements, search firms, or networking may be more effective methods. In an ad, you can spell out the specifics of the position. The downside is a large number of resumes you may receive that don't match your needs.

A common failing in finding a person for a position is that too many people are interviewed. An interviewer will get overly involved with interviewing candidates who are not right for the position. You need to come up with a set of criteria, such as what the position pays, the specific skills needed, and years of experience desired. With the proper set of criteria, you can sort the resumes of candidates into three piles, yes, no, and maybe.

Without a defined set of criteria, a situation could occur where someone walks into your office and says "I need a controller." You reply, "What kind?" "A good one" comes back the response. If you ask, "What salary?" the answer is sure to be, "As little as possible."

Once the resumes have been sorted, more weeding out can be done by a telephone interview. This telephone conversation often eliminates a large number of candidates. Many resumes overstate qualifications in response to the needs of the position. Often, the resume alone can not narrow the choices. Another way to weed out some of the candidates is to request that the candidate supply a full salary history and the nature of the business for all former employers. If they don't answer these questions on their resumes, they could go into the "no" pile.

PREPARING FOR THE INTERVIEW

A number of things should be done before interviewing the candidates.

* Read the resume right before you see the person. This will help you to remember the candidate's background and experience so you don't have to keep looking at the resume throughout the interview.

* Clear the calendar. Try not to schedule interviews at the start of your office day and if possible, turn the phone off. This allows for you to interview the candidate without the interruptions which might turn the person away from the position.

* Conduct the interview out of your office. This is the best way to avoid interruptions.

The employment application is a very important part of the recruitment process. standard application from a business forms supplier or catalog is fine. There are two statements on the application which, when signed by the applicant, become very significant.

1. Everything in the application is true, and if not the candidate can be released. The form should also say that the position is employment at will (the employer or the employee can terminate employment at any time for any reason or no reason).

2. Permission is given to check the references.

Checking references is very important, but it requires a skill level on the part of the reference checker to get the facts.

Your chances of getting the true story are improved hen speaking with a person you know. It is a good idea to circularize key people in your organization with the names of the organizations with whom you will be checking references. Maybe someone in your firm knows someone at the company. If a candidate says they are certified, or they had outstanding grades, make sure the facts are correct. …

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