Hiring someone can be a time-consuming and nerve-wracking task. Ideally, you’ll find the perfect person for the position right away – someone who hits the ground running, increases your department’s performance, and eases your workload. In the worst case scenario, your “great hire” turns out to be far from it, and you spend months dealing with the aftermath, including finding a replacement.

Unfortunately, too many companies experience the worst case scenario. The good news is that by implementing a hiring process that includes structured interview questions, you can feel more confident that you are actually choosing the right person for the job. This is important not only for the company, but also for the person being hired.

There are three fundamental actions required to develop an effective structured interview process:

  1. Know what qualities you are going to assess, and agree on what represents a good answer.

Different positions require different competencies and behaviors that drive success. Having a structured interview process means you’ll know what to look for ahead of time. What are the critical skills, competencies, and perspectives needed for successful performance? What type of background and experiences tend to cultivate those skills? To answer these questions and determine what success looks like in the role, conduct a thorough Job Analysis and partner with key stakeholders, hiring managers, functional leaders, and HR professionals to ensure everyone is on the same page.

  1. Prepare specific questions ahead of time that align with the role requirements.

The goal is to have questions that focus on past experience in situations similar to those that the person may face in the new role. As the interviewer, you are listening for evidence of demonstrated behaviors. These behavioral questions enable you to ask for specifics vs. generalities.

It’s important to ask a question for each competency that was identified as necessary for success, to ensure that your interviewing process is consistent and fair. Use behavioral examples or anchors so you can measure proficiency when listening to interviewees relate their stories. You’ll also want to make certain that all stakeholders are in agreement on what constitutes success in each area. This will ensure that interviews can be discussed in an objective way.

  1. Probe for more information if there seems to be a critical area or behavior that needs development.

During your interview process, it will be important to integrate a validated personality assessment to help you uncover things you might not necessarily see in an interview. Once you narrow down your candidate pool, an assessment tool will enable you to probe further in order to determine a person’s fit with the company culture and with the team, manager, and organizational values.

This approach will help you uncover important information about each candidate relative to your organization. For example, if their previous managers were hands-on, what happens if they will now be expected to work more independently? How was success defined in past jobs vs. your company’s environment? Answering these questions will give you insights into candidates’ hardwiring with respect to their strengths and developmental areas.

Remember, it is important to select people not only for the skills they bring but also for their potential.

The next time you need to fill a role, make sure you do all you can to choose the right person for that position so that your “great hire” turns out to be just that!


Karen Triola is an Organizational Development Consultant with Caliper