The Five

Learning Series

May 24 2016 // 5:00 AM

Five Things to Learn From an Interview

Written by Dave Huffman | @PAEVENdave

Welcome back to The Five!  I am guest blogger Dave Huffman.  I am a professional engineer with over 30 years of experience in the design field.  I have worked for architects, contractors, and engineers, and I ran my own business for a number of years.

Todays’ topic is Five Things to Learn from an Interview.  Use this list to discover the most pertinent information about potential employees.  

1.     Will the candidate fit into your culture?  

A candidate may be technically well qualified for the position but may have trouble fitting in.  An overly cautious or extremely introverted interviewee may not thrive if your office requires adaptation at a rapid pace, flexibility, and frequent client communications and interaction. Education and job experience are not everything. Can the interviewee carry on a conversation? Do they have a personality?  Can they relate to other people? Look for the best fit.

2.     Why is the candidate interested in joining your firm?  

Are they interested in the type of work you do?  An ideal employee shares your company’s values.  What do they really know about the firm and how it works? If the only reason a potential employee is interested in your company is to get paid more, they are probably not going to work out and will only stay until the next opportunity arrives.  If they are looking for new challenges, seeking learning opportunities, and eager to improve themselves, they could be a great addition to your team and a valuable asset.

3.     Why is the candidate looking for new work?

An employee may not like who they work with or who they sit next to, but they should make an effort to get along and do the best work they can.  Interpersonal conflicts at a previous job can be a warning sign. Sometimes employees decide to leave because they find the work boring and not rewarding.  If that is the case, you may want to make certain the type of work you will be asking the candidate to perform will be challenging and rewarding.  There are many legitimate reasons why someone wants to change jobs, but there can also be a number of reasons that should cause concern and raise a red flag.

4.     How does the candidate solve problems?  

Work environments require problem solving skills, whether the problem is personal, technical, or otherwise. It is important to know what steps the candidate takes to get to a solution or resolve a conflict.  They may go directly to the boss about a minor disagreement with someone. Or perhaps they haven’t researched how to solve a small design problem that could snowball into a disaster. An ideal employee tries to work out the problem for themselves or seeks assistance from a more experienced mentor prior to escalating the issue to the highest level.  If they are unwilling or unable to work through some issues on their own, they may cost more than they are worth.

5.     What can you do to help the candidate achieve his goals?

The candidate’s goals may be career oriented, personal, or some combination of both.  Does your interviewee dream of owning a business in the future?  Are you able to assist or mentor the interviewee in the business aspects as well as the technical aspects of the job?  Where does your candidate see himself going in this business, and what can you do to help?  Is the candidate working towards licensure? If so, he may need assistance preparing for the tests or may need some additional time off to prepare.  You should be prepared to tell your candidates what you are willing to do to help them achieve their goals.

There are significantly more topics and questions that potential employers may emphasize during the hiring process.  You may find the information you value most is completely different than what I consider important. Prioritize what is crucial to your particular business. In addition, remember how much information a potential employee will be hoping to gather from you during an interview.  Be ready to answer the questions that will likely be directed at you, and be prepared to explain as much about the company as you can.  Know your mission and what is important to your company, and make certain that your candidate leaves the interview with the same understanding.

Thanks for reading.  
I’m Dave Huffman.

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