6.0 Interview and Select

Employees and Staffing >> Each section contains key Action Items located within the downloadable Action Guide >> Click to Download Action Guide.


6.1   Using the tools you have created

You have a job description.  List the required skills and talents on the left side of a piece of paper and the name of each of the applicants at the top.  Score each of the applicants and compare.  You will be using this simple interviewing tool to determine who is the right fit.

Create a comfortable “climate” for the interview:

o   Provide a comfortable environment

o   Provide water or coffee

o   You want them to be as comfortable as possible

o   If they are nervous, they won’t provide their best effort

ACTION ITEMS: Complete the Action Items in your Action Guide.

Create an Excel spreadsheet as a template for future interviews.

List a few possible locations that you could use to conduct interviews. As you may know, many large sales companies use hotel lobbies to conduct interviews. There are usually semi-private areas for the interview and also several other comfortable seating areas for waiting candidates. So, if you don’t have the building, simply find a place that is easy to get to and provides the right environment.




6.2   Who should be involved?

Who will be working with the person?  If this is a person documenting your finances maybe your accountant should be involved?  Who do you consider to be a good judge of character?  You may want to use a recruiting firm.  Meet with the principal and see if they “get it.”  Do they understand what you need?  There will be a fee for their services.  However, it can be a timesaver if they can truly give you great applicants.

ACTION ITEMS: Complete the Action Items in your Action Guide.

Identify a few people or services that can help you interview candidates:




6.3   What are the critical questions?

There are some questions that will let you know if you should even talk with him/her about the job.  They are, “What brings you to us today?” Their answer let’s you know their reason for choosing you.  Was it, “I needed a job or was it I know someone who said you were a good person so I wanted to see if you had an opening.”  Perhaps they answer:  “I saw your web site and it seems like you are growing and that is the type of business I want to be a part of.”  You don’t want a person who is looking for something to fill in until a “real job they want” comes along.  Make sure to use open-ended questions.

ACTION ITEMS: Complete the Action Items in your Action Guide.

Draft a few open-ended questions you might ask candidates: These should start with “explain how”, “describe”, “give an example”, etc.




6.4   Tips on legal interviewing

This is the area that freezes entrepreneurs.  There is no need to worry.  The goal is to find someone ABLE to do the essential parts of the job. So, all questions should be around that and not around those areas, which will get you in trouble.  So, avoid age, race, religion, national creed, sex, and sexual orientation.  So, let’s look at this in a practical way with this example.

You need a person who can pull items from a warehouse against a “pick list” and place it in a box.  This is the first employee and your busy time may vary so you need someone who can work some late nights and weekends, including holidays.  So your questions would include:

Are you able to work hours that may include late nights-say until 8pm-with little notice?

Are you able to work weekends?

Are you able to work holidays?

This is very important to remember: “Are you able…?” That way you aren’t asking–do you have children?  (What does that have to do with the job?)  Where were you born? (What does that have to do with the job?)

No Action Items – Proceed to 6.5

6.5  Interviewing techniques

There are several interviewing types.  First is the pre-screen.  Call the candidate. If you need to leave a message; see if you get a return call.  If no, well you have an answer.  If they do return the call, then be sure to gauge their interest.  Also, you have the opportunity to be very objective before you see the person.

As far as interviewing goes, during panel interviews each person asks different questions.  The advantage is that this allows everyone to hear the questions and answers and allows everyone to watch the body language of the person.

Serial interviews are when the applicant interviews with one person after another. It is key to be sure you have the questions sorted.  One person should focus on the technical aspects, another should ask teamwork questions perhaps another on integrity.  Whatever the questions may be, ask for examples:  “Give me an example of how your integrity guided you to an answer?”

There are video interviews as well, but they really aren’t the norm today, even in the era of technology.

Remember you are not hiring a person to interview, but to do the job.  A great interviewer does not mean they are a great performer.  Also, a poor interviewer may be a great performer.  You just may need to draw it out a bit.

It is okay to ask only a few questions. It is more important to drill down into the questions you ask, rather than have short, blunt non-helpful answers to 50 questions.

For example:  Q.  “Tell me about a specific accomplishment on your last job?”  A.  “I was really happy to collect most of the outstanding money due on accounts”.  Q.  “Tell me how you went about that?”  A.  “I first sent a letter and that generated a response.”  Q. “ What happened if you didn’t hear from them?  Was there a time frame you needed them to respond?”

You can see how that one response will give you an idea as to the process.  You can see their pride (or not) and you will learn if they really did it with the details provided.

No Action Items – Proceed to 6.6

6.6   How to decide

Be sure you followed the process. If you need a follow up interview then have one. Let the candidates know that you have narrowed the field or you need to understand a bit more about them.

If you are doing the talking, you are not learning anything about the applicant.  You do not need to sell the business at this point.

How did each candidate score in the questions you asked—relating to their ability to do the job?   Now what is still gnawing at you?

ACTION ITEMS: Complete the Action Items in your Action Guide.

Take a few of the previous suggestions to craft some interview questions and practice conducting an interview with friends and family.

Make this as real as possible.  Select a location if possible or have a phone interview.

Now, calendar your friends and family for the practice interview. Give them a simple job description and ask them to send you there resume.

6.7  Is it possible to be sure you picked the right person?

Quality interviews and reference checking will help reinforce your decision.

Reference checks will help a great deal.  You may think that people will only give them to people who like them–that is fine–but you will be able to learn things still.

Always ask for one more reference!

For instance, ask the reference source:  “On a scale of 1 to 10 (with ten being the highest) how would you rate this person’s performance?”  If the reference says, “8” then ask, “What would take them to a 9 or 10?”

ACTION ITEMS: Complete the Action Items in your Action Guide.

Think of a few questions you could ask references – use the scale suggestion above:




6.8  Determining the elements of the offer

The offer should be written and confirm the amount, the starting date, the hours, the work location and job title.  The key here is the pay amount.  The pay amount should be written as the pay schedule in the example below.  Courts have shown that disgruntled employees have won an annual salary, because that is what their job offer letter said.

Dear John,

It is my pleasure to offer you the full time role of Sales Manager for XYZ firm.  This position reports to VP, Ann Smith.  You will be eligible for benefits after your 90 days introductory period.   You will be compensated every week, for the previous week’s work, at a rate of  $1,000.00.  You should report to the office at xxxx international drive at 7:30 on your first day, November 2.

Congratulations and welcome aboard.


Jane Doe

You see you have put forward the expectation of a start.  If you are hesitating at this, then ask yourself why are you hiring the person?

ACTION ITEMS: Complete the Action Items in your Action Guide.

Draft a sample offer letter and have it reviewed by a lawyer prior to ever officially using it. Draft it here:

6.9  Communicating the offer

If possible, give the offer in person.  That allows you to see the body language.    Let the person know that this is the best offer you can make.  Refer back to comments they made such as “You said you were looking for something between 35,000 and 40,000.  We think that despite the fact that you don’t have the specific industry experience we would prefer, your other experience and your attitude allow us to make you an offer in between that.”

You can certainly give a training wage and then bump up the pay.  You can offer a review after 90 days.  You can offer 100% commission with a draw up to a limit.

Give them the paperwork needed to complete for the first day. Be sure there is a firm handshake with lots of eye contact!

The applicant’s paperwork should be completed before they arrive on the first day.  Don’t pay them to fill out paperwork!

No Action Items – Proceed to 6.10

6.10  Negotiating

This can be tricky.  If the person feels the offer is fair there may be only a discussion around a previous commitment like attendance at a family event.  I find that especially true for summers and holidays.

If the person is working, ask the candidate what they will do if there is a counteroffer from the firm for which they are currently working.

No Action Items – Proceed to 6.11

6.11   The correspondence

Always have the offer written, and ask for a confirmation signature at the bottom.

Next – 7.0 The First 90 Days »