Three Lessons From Interviewing New Hires

Hiring the wrong person is an absolute punch to the gut for a small business or startup. Bringing on someone who can’t do the job or is hard to work with not only means that the job they were hired for isn’t being done well, it also makes everyone else’s jobs more difficult. We’ve interviewed many candidates for many different jobs and we’ve learned a lot of things. Here’s a few of them.


1. Don’t Gang up on the Interviewee

Try doing several one-on-one interviews led by different members of your team, rather than cramming everyone into the same room, surrounding the interviewee, and peppering them with questions. You’re doing an interview, not judging them on a tribunal. Physically surrounding the candidate makes the situation adversarial and intimidating. Some candidates are going to have a hard time answering questions to the best of their ability while profusely sweating.

Unless a core requirement of their job requires them to be able to speak while surrounded by people, it has effectively added noise to the data points you’re trying to collect. It makes it harder to determine if they’d be a good fit for the job.


2. Ask Each Interviewee the Same Questions

It’s nearly impossible to objectively compare potential coworkers if they’re both asked completely different questions. Have a thorough discussion about what characteristics and experiences give someone the best chance of success for this job. Use that as a guide to determine the interview questions.


It’s important to note that you shouldn’t just ask about experience. We’ve all worked with people who have tons of experience, but were not good a fit for the job or the company where they worked. Asking questions that help to uncover these other characteristics is important to determine if they’ll succeed in your company.


3. Take Notes

For the love of everything that is good, write down the responses of the interviewee. Take notes. Take them in a notebook or a laptop. Just take them.


When the team sits down to compare the candidates it’s much better to compare what an interviewee actually said rather than someone’s vague memory. This problem scales with the number of candidates interviewed. It’s better to review their actual responses. If a candidate left an interviewer with positive, fuzzy feelings at the end of an interview, when the interviewer recalls early answers their recollection might be positively biased, regardless of how well the candidate actually answered.

Hiring new people can be a difficult, time-consuming process, but it is a process, so it can be improved. Part of improving that process is making it more efficient, but just as important is making it fairer. Not only is a fair hiring process best for the candidates, but it’s best for your company. It gives your company a much better opportunity to hire the right people, and, in the end, a company is only as good as the people who work there.


Asif Khan