February 25, 2014

9 Effective Interview Techniques for Small Business Owners


Finding talent for your small business is a big job. Job interviews and suitable interview techniques are an important part of that process. After you’ve acquired a list of potential candidates, setting up interviews with the most qualified applicants and asking them the right interview questions is the next step.

As a small business owner, you have many responsibilities. You probably don’t interview job candidates every day. So, setting up interviews can be an uncomfortable chore. However, it’s important to make the most of this opportunity to select the best employees for your business.

Here are nine most effective interview techniques that will help out through the interview process.

Screen candidates 

It takes too much time to interview every single person who applies for an open position (and in some cases, there could be hundreds). Instead, screen the candidates before setting up interviews. If candidates submit resumes, a quick review of the resumes will tell you which candidates are the most qualified. If you have a lot of candidates, you can save time by further narrowing the selection with phone interviews.

Schedule for your convenience

But be flexible. Choose interview times that will not interfere with your business operation. For example, if you run a restaurant, you would not interview candidates during a mealtime. At the same time, give the candidates several options for an interview time. The best candidates may be in school or looking to move up from a part-time job.

Be prepared

Have a list of interview questions ready. Don’t ask questions randomly, but consider what each answer tells you about the candidate. Use the same basic questions for each candidate, although you should be prepared to ask follow up questions depending on the candidate’s response.

Observe the candidates

Does the candidate seem prepared for the interview? Is he or she dressed appropriately for your business environment? Can you imagine how the candidate will interact with your customers?

Start light with interview questions

Most job applicants are nervous when they are called in to an interview. You can make them feel more comfortable by starting the interview with non-threatening questions like “did you have any trouble finding us?” Once the candidate has relaxed, move into questions that require more effort on part of the interviewee.

Keep the Interview Legal

 It is illegal to discriminate based on age, race, creed, color, religion, national origin, gender, and other categories protected by the laws in your state. Avoid asking any questions about these areas. Louise Kursmark has written a helpful article covering illegal questions on the hiring site titled Keep the Interview Legal.

Let the candidate speak

 You may be anticipating answers or trying to hurry the interview along, but be sure to give the candidate a chance to voice their thoughts, even if they go off-topic. It’s also a good practice to close the interview by giving the interviewee a chance to ask any questions they have.

Take notes during the interview 

 It may seem obvious, but remembering what happened in each candidate’s interview can be difficult. This is especially true if you are interviewing a large number of candidates. You need notes to refer to when you make the final hiring decision.

Follow up the interview

Don’t leave your candidates sitting on the fence for too long. It’s likely that they are interviewing with multiple companies. The best candidates will probably receive other offers. Once you have selected the desired candidate for your open position, make the offer as quickly as you possibly can.

Involving Your Team

If your small business is large enough to have team leads or assistant managers, it is a common interview technique to allow them to participate in interviews. It is a good idea to include senior members of your team in the interview process. Their involvement can help ease the new hire into your business. Plus, having another observer at the interview can help you to see different perspectives about a candidate.

However, be careful not to make it seem like you are “ganging up” on the interviewee. Also, make sure that any employees who participate in the interview process understand the legal restrictions on interview questions.

New Trends in Interviewing

There are several new interview trends you should understand:

  • Video Interviews. Some companies now use video interviews to screen candidates and sometimes even to make a final selection. A video interview is conducted online through tools such as Skype.
  • Tests and Assignments. Another current interviewing trend involves the use of tests and assignments to determine whether a candidate is truly qualified.
  • Speed Interviews. Finally, speed interviews or interviews that are scheduled to last no more than 15 minutes. The speed interview compresses the traditional interview process.

Once you’ve selected your new hires, you need to put that talent to use. Humanity can help. With our employee scheduling software, you will always know when your new hire is available for work.