How to Hire Good
People Each and Every Time
Gregory P. Smith
Many employers agree the
interview process is minimally effective at best. Unfortunately,
resumes and job interviews are becoming less reliable. Here are
the most common problems surrounding job applications and
resumes, according to a survey done by CareerBuilder.com.
• 38 percent of those surveyed indicated they had embellished
their job responsibilities
• 18 percent admitted they lied about their skill set
• 12 percent indicated they had been dishonest about their start
and end dates of employment
• 10 percent confessed to lying about an academic degree
• 7 percent said they lied about the companies they had worked
• 5 percent disclosed they had been untruthful about a job title
Each person brings their own set of unique skills, talents, and
personality to the job. The trouble is most organizations fall
short in matching the job with the individual. The end result is
poor job performance, higher turnover, and increased customer
The primary purpose of the interview is to determine a match
between the individual and the job. Additionally, it should help
you understand the applicant's behavior, values, motivations,
Here are a few key points to prepare for an effective interview:
Prepare - Make sure you understand the key requirements of the
job. Develop a simple outline that covers the required duties.
Screen the resumes and applications to gain information for the
interview. Standardize and prepare the questions you will ask
Purpose - Not only are you trying to determine the best
applicant, but you also need to convince the applicant your
place of business is the best place for them.
Structure - The best interviews follow a structured process.
This doesn’t mean the entire process is inflexible and without
spontaneity. You should attempt to ask each applicant the same
questions, then score each answer from (low) 1-10 (high). This
structured approach helps to avoid bias and insures each
applicant is considered fairly.
To strengthen your process, consider using behavioral
interviewing techniques such as role-plays and situational based
questions. They can improve your chances of identifying the best
person for the job. Here are some examples:
• Give me an example when you . . .
• Describe an incident where you went over and beyond the call
of duty . . .
• Tell me about the time you reached out for additional
responsibility . . .
• Tell me about the largest project you worked on . . .
• Tell me about the last time you broke the rules . . .
Situational Based Questions
Situational based questions evaluate the applicant’s judgment,
ability and knowledge. The interviewer first gives the applicant
a hypothetical situation such as:
“You are a manager and one of your employees is chronically late
• What should you do?
• What additional information should you obtain?
• How many options do you have?
Role-playing is an effective way to judge how your applicant
would respond to situations they may encounter on the job. It
also can help you evaluate the knowledge, skills and personal
charisma of your applicant. For example, if you are interviewing
a customer service representative, you can use a role-play to
see how they can manage an irate customer. When using
role-plays, consider these guidelines.
1. It is a good idea to write the situation down on paper. Give
the person a short break and time to “get into character” prior
to the role-play.
2. Give the candidate clear guidelines and background
information so they thoroughly understand the situation.
3. Allow them to ask questions before you begin.
4. Debrief the applicant at the conclusion of the role-play. Ask
them to tell you how they thought they did and how they could
have done it differently.
Personality Assessments -- Insuring the "Right Fit"
When the interview is over, consider going one step further.
Pre-employment assessments are a valid, legal, reliable, and
important part of the hiring process for a growing number of
There are a variety of assessments on the market today.
Assessments can measure the honesty and integrity of the
applicant. They can also measure an individual’s sales skills,
personality and leadership ability. Approximately 65% of all
employers use some form of assessment during the hiring process.
By using these tools, organizations have reduced turnover and
improved the quality of the workforce.
Another unique aspect of assessments is you can use them to
create a benchmark of your current (top performing) employees
and then use the benchmark to compare against applicants. This
benchmark process puts you in a powerful position to predict
success on the job.