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In the Trenches - Developing Systematic Employee Interview Techniques

15 May, 2002 By: Tim Teasley imageSource

In the Trenches - Developing Systematic Employee Interview Techniques

the right people is one of the most important roles, if not the most
important role of the office equipment dealer. However, most owners or managers
do not have sufficient, if any, formal training in the interviewing process.
Their skills are most often developed by on-the-job experience using the
“Trial-and-Error” learning method.


own “Trial-and-Error” experience prompted me to develop a systematic
approach to interviewing. Throughout the first few interviews that I conducted,
I was more nervous than the candidate. I simply did not have a systematic
approach. The process was awkward and reflected poorly on the company, as well
as on myself. Determined to correct the situation, I developed the following
five major steps for the interviewing process:


Describe your company to the candidate.

with what you are most comfortable with and have the most knowledge about...
yourself and your company. Every employee of your organization should have a
thirty second commercial of your company memorized and ready to present on
demand. Being prepared minimizes your nervousness and raises your confidence
level. Each employee conducting interviews for your company should know the
history of the company, knowledge of your products, the company’s location(s),
and some unique facts about the company. This process gives the interviewer and
the candidate time to get comfortable.


Describe the position available.

company’s expectations of the position should be explained in detail,
including responsibilities, working hours, dress code, performance, and salary
range. I have found that describing a general workday/week for the position to
be a logical approach. Discuss the training that will be provided, as well as
the amount of management supervision required for the position. The level of
ongoing support after the initial training period should also be discussed.


Review the candidate’s resume and employment application.

a litigious society, a well-worded employment application offers a degree of
legal protection. As a general rule, ask questions relating only to the
performance and duties of the job. Do not inquire regarding age, race, sex, or
religious affiliation.


it is best to begin at the top of the candidate’s resume and work completely
through the document. Then, review your company’s employment application.
Peruse through the information to gain a clear picture of the candidate’s
qualifications and abilities.


candidates craft their resumes or applications with the creative energy they
would apply to writing a novel. Separating the facts from fiction takes skill
and persistence. Ask probing questions to reveal the true nature of potentially
over-stated areas. Early in the interview communicate to the candidate that you
intend to check their references. It may be too late to change the resume or
application, but it may inspire them to be particularly careful not to embellish
their reference’s assessments.


experience section of the resume or application should be explored in detail. I
have found numerous times that the candidate will list many years of experience
at a certain task or skill. However, after inquiring about their job experience,
the candidate actually has only one year of experience many times over. The
experience is not progressive. For example, a service technician may have
ten years of experience servicing one segment of equipment, which he mastered
the first year. Yet, another service technician may have five years of
experience servicing five different segments of equipment and has progressively
mastered them all. Which individual would you want to hire? Typically, ask the
candidate about training classes they have attended to support their level of


you conduct the interview, ask questions relating to each section of the
application. This demonstrates an interest in the individual. Develop unique
questions such as:


“Tell me about your first job… I mean your very first job.” (Hint:
I have often found that candidates who picked tobacco or vegetables as teenagers
appreciate hard work and make great employees!)


“Tell me something about yourself and your background. Cover even your
earliest jobs, various duties, responsibilities, and why you changed job


“What are some of your career ambitions/goals for the future?”


“Name some areas that you would like to improve in.”


“How would your peers describe you?”


“Are you familiar with computers? Describe your computer experience. What
other types of office equipment are you familiar with?”


“If I were to call your previous employer/supervisor for a reference, what
would they tell me about your work ethic, dependability, time management,


are your salary expectations?”


“Why do you want to work for (insert your company’s name)?”


“Why do you think (insert your company’s name) should hire you?”


Ask for any questions.

the candidate to ask questions. This is actually a good test of the
candidate’s communication skills.


End the interview with a positive closing statement.

end the interview on a positive note. Ask the candidate, “If the position were
offered to you, would you accept it, and if so, when would you be available to
report for work?” A currently employed individual that does not feel the need
to give adequate notice to their current employer may not have the qualities you
are looking for in an employee.


the candidate for interviewing with your company. End the interview by handing
the candidate one of your business cards. Through this gesture, you know the
candidate has your name and address for the purpose of sending a thank you note.
Generally, thank you notes from prospective employees can become tiebreakers
when more than one candidate is qualified!


conclusion, experience is the key to developing and mastering your own
individual interviewing techniques. However, learning from other dealers’
“Trial-and-Error” experience is a great place to start. Being prepared and
having a systematic approach to interviewing will assist you in hiring the right
employees for your dealership’s success!

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