How Good Is the Fit?

April 2, 2007

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There are many elements to running a successful business, but the workforce is what really shapes a company's future. And there remains a high demand for those who have the know-how to satisfy customers. For hiring, here are some general questions to consider long before a job candidate arrives to interview.

When you interview potential new employees, you want to make the most of every minute you spend interviewing people for a position. Truly, it is daunting because when you interview the first few candidates, you don't know how the others will compare with the know-how to satisfy customers through application of technology, materials and personal motivation. In companies with scientists, interviewing can follow a logical plan: those who interface with the new employee complete forms that are compiled by a supervisor.

However, before you interview candidates, try to combine the characteristics or qualifications you think the right candidate should possess with those represented in the notice or advertisement (often made by someone in HR) in your questioning, and keep your own notes so you know what training you may have to provide once the new employee begins work.

Consider the following general areas and have questions ready (long) before the candidate arrives:

• How important is it that this person can generate and offer creative solutions for challenges facing the business?

• Why or how does the candidate get pleasure from doing the tasks he or she will do? This is important because the person will probably spend 40 percent to 50 percent of the time with your team members as they do with their personal lives. You want employees to be happy at what they do — even when the challenges get intense.

• Today you may also want to challenge candidates with a short test – verbal or written. Know what you'll ask or have clear instructions to offer.

• Ask about how the candidate has helped a team at work or school succeed, and ask how they have dealt with team members who don't accept responsibility.

As for candidates, competition for great job opportunities is intense. Seventy-three percent of staffing directors say competition for talent has increased since 2005, and 79 percent expect it to intensify in 2007, according to a study released by HR consulting firm Development Dimensions International and Monster. Fortunately, for manufacturers, at least, hiring in the manufacturing sector is expected to continue to grow throughout this month.

There are plenty of resources out there for those looking to get or change jobs, with scores of interview tips and types of questions you may face, answers to which you should have graciously ready. Above all, though, perhaps the best thing for candidates to keep in mind during a job interview is this: Some folks who have to conduct interviews are not comfortable interviewing, may not have a lot of interviewing experience, or are simply not good at it — all of which makes the interview stressful for them, too!

And remember, the interview is about seeing how a good a fit your skills and background would be with the needs of the organization.

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