The 3X3 Interview Method
Conduct at least three interviews The more time you spend interviewing, the more likely you are to uncover the truth about people.
Interview in at least three different environments Interview in formal situations, and informal ones. Your goal is to get people to drop their shields and reveal their true personality. It’s also a good idea to conduct a phone interview if you are looking for someone with good phone skills.
Involve at least three different people in the process Different people will have different insights into a candidate. Try both private interviews and group interviews, but be careful not to intimidate your candidate. They might end up misrepresenting themselves. In most situations, group interviews should be less formal. Perhaps more of a “come and meet the team” atmosphere.
Every candidate will express a high level of interest in working with your business, but if a candidate is truly enthusiastic about it, a proper hiring systems should bring it to the surface.
How do you sort through a long list of candidates to find the exceptional ones (especially when they’re all on their best behaviour when you meet them)? You need a plan. You need a “hiring system” that helps you to sort through and compare one applicant to another. If, like many employers, you let every interview take its own course, your results will be inconsistent and you’ll end up basing your decision on personality. Personality is important, but most candidates, at best, let you see a partial view of their true nature in an interview. You need more than that to go on.
Have an agenda for your interviews. It will keep you on track and on time. Following is a sample agenda. Adapt it for your use.
- Greeting and friendly chitchat
Putting your candidates at ease relaxes them, making it more likely that their real personality will show through.
- Present the meeting’s agenda
This shows them that you are fully prepared and that you take this process seriously.
How has their education prepared them for working with your company?
- Work history
What is their level of experience and how does it apply to the position? Are there patterns to their work history? (i.e. they have never worked more than two years in one place) Find out why. Spend most of your time here. This is the most important because the best indication of future behaviour is past behaviour.
- Skill set
How will their current skills be helpful?
What are their career goals? Financial goals?
- Work habits
Are they self-starters or do they need direction? What working standards have they set for themselves? Do they mind working late? On weekends? On short notice?
- Interpersonal skills
What have their working relationships been like in the past? Do they like working with people? Do they prefer large groups, small teams, one-on-one or solo working arrangements? Are they natural leaders? Are they easy to get along with?
What do they think their previous employers would say about them? This is a key questions. Tell them you are going to ask their previous employer this question, but want to know what they think. This will get you a more useful answer than the question "What do you feel are your strengths or weaknesses?" That question often results in answers like "I work too hard," which doesn't really give you any information.
- Describe the job
Let them know what the job will entail, but don’t paint too rosy a picture. It’s good to promote your working environment, but be honest about your expectations when it comes to results. This type of sincerity will help you weed out some of the “coasters.”
- Answer questions
It's best to let them know right from the start that you'll make time for their questions at the end of the interview.
The most important consideration when interviewing a candidate is his or her Personal Foundation, especially values. Above all else, you must discover who the candidate really is.
Create a Personal Interview Agenda.
Read Between the Lines
How candidates behave is usually more revealing than what they say. How are they dressed? Were they on time? If they weren’t, did they call to let you know they'd be late? How much do they know about your company? Are they targeting your company specifically or are you just another interview to them?
Ask a lot of questions. Most interviewers make the mistake of talking too much. The candidate should be speaking 80 percent of the time. Ask questions, and then probe into their answers for examples and explanations. If they tell you that they “work hard” you might ask them for an example, or you might ask what working hard means to them.
Avoid closed questions such as “Are you reliable?” as they will only get you a yes or no answer. Open-ended questions such as, “Tell me about a time when a project was completed on time because of your extra effort,” will give you a much more informative response.
As much as possible, plan your questions in advance and ask the same or similar questions of all your applicants. If they have questions for you, answer briefly, then politely remind them that you will make time for their questions at the end of the interview. That way, you can avoid inadvertently giving them the answers to your own questions. For example, if you let them know that teamwork is especially important to you they’ll take every opportunity to give you examples of their teamwork skills whether they have them or not. You probably want to know what their teamwork skills are like, but you don’t want to point them in too strong a direction too early on.