How Do You Test Potential Staff?

How Do You Test Potential Staff?

It seems that whenever we’re involved in recruiting new technical staff that the number of applicants is far in excess of the number we can possibly interview or hire? Over recent weeks, we’ve published a number of stories on how to make your CV stand out so you get the interview. But I’m thinking from the other side now. How do you filter all those responses and carry out the interview?

Whenever I interview potential staff I set up pro forma that includes questions that I ask every candidate. It’s not a very exciting or innovative approach but it ensures fairness as everyone is subject to the same interview process.

Amongst those questions are some general ones, at the start, to help the candidate relax a little and to quell their nerves. Things like, “Describe your most recent role” and “What are you looking for in your next role?”.

The next phase of questions is usually around situational and behavioural performance. Things like “if the CEO called you to resolve a trivial issue and a factory worker called with a problem that was about to halt production – what would you do?”. I’m not looking for what the answer is but how they make the decision.

If the position is more technical, I’ll have an appropriately skilled person in the room to evaluate responses to about specific things such as resolving networking issues, or approaches to resolving a software issue. But I also like to ask relatively simple technical questions, mainly to get a gauge on how they can communicate technical things to non-technical users.

By the end of that, I’ve got a pretty good handle on how that person might meet the technical elements of the job and how they will fit into the culture of the organisation.

But I’m curious. I assume other Lifehackers have their own tricks and tips for interviewing. What’s your favourite interview tip or technique?