Wednesday, January 14, 2009

What to do during Interviews

What to do during interviews
By Shum YL , March 2006

 Perhaps the most important function of managers is to manage people or human resources. Human resources management is not the primary function of HR Managers but all managers. Although called “Human Resources Managers”, such positions normally only  provide the technical expertise in hiring, training and disciplining of human resources. The job of managing human resources are mainly in the hands of line managers and middle managers. This is especially true when hiring new staff.

 Recruitment is an important managerial task because managers usually have to live with the results for a considerable time[1]. It is therefore imperative that managers hone their interviewing and selecting skills to the best they can as the task can really seldom be delegated. From my experience it is necessary to prepare before any interview and I normally take around 10 minutes or so to research the candidates resume and background. For senior positions you probably can “google” his or her background online as well. Here are some issues in staff hiring and selection for those who want to select good staff.

a)       First of all, managers must ask themselves if the new hire is really necessary. Often when a staff resigns the first thing the manager does is to submit a request for hire form to the personnel manager immediately without looking whether the staff’s tasks can be shared among other staff. For example, when we start a company there are usually a lot of work to be done in the set up phase and the number of staff is normally not enough. However, after the setup stage staff generally have it easy as the number of tasks dwindles down. In this scenario, the most like action if a staff leaves is to redistribute the tasks to other staff or just outsource some of it.

b)      It is imperative for the manager to read through the resume and cover letter of the applicant first before the interview. This will ensure that the manager is familiar with the candidate and does not ask questions which answers are already in the resume. This can also be a form of prescreening the applicants. There is no point in interviewing someone, if it can be read through the resume that the applicant is not qualified for the job.

c)       During the interview the manager must be in control of the process while making sure that he or she is not hindering or intimidating applicants from presenting themselves as much as possible. The keyword here is “guiding”. Interviewers must learn how to guide the applicants during interviews so that they can extract useful information from the applicants. For example, do not keep asking questions that requires just yes no answers.  The interview is not a court session nor an police interrogation session.

d)      Some form of screening before the actual interview is recommended. For example, applicants for a typist position may be tested on their typing speed first before they are  selected for interviews. It may be also in the form of a personality test for applicants appluing for senior positions in order for judge their compatibility with the job and the corporate culture in general.

e)      The manager should refrain from bringing in his or her personal biases to the interview. This will allow the selection to be fair and just.

f)        If there are no candidates who fit the bill, do not make the mistake of choosing the best available. Hiring is a long term commitment on the part of the manager and should be done properly and not in a haste to met short term datelines.

[1] Ernest & Young, The Manager’s Handbook(revised edition), London, Warner Books, 1994

The author is the business consultant of DRC Services which specializes in management consultancy and training. Mr. Shum has many years of senior management experiences  in various functional areas.  Mr. Shum can be contacted at  for assignments on project basis in the field of  human resources management and Business management

No comments: