Once you have completed an interview and documented the applicant's responses, and before the next interview, be sure to set aside a few minutes in which the interviewers can discuss their reactions to the applicant's interview. Did one of you hear or see something that the other didn't notice? Do you have the same reaction to the applicant's responses? Did one of you see a red flag or something that particularly impressed you about this particular applicant? Make sure you have this discussion, and take notes on it, before you begin the next interview and those thoughts are lost.
As you have lengthier breaks between applicants, take the time to start completing your applicant tracking program. We have a Staff Hiring Matrix where we keep track of each applicant, when they applied, how they heard about the position, and how they fared in each step of our hiring process. We write brief notes regarding their qualifications for the position, how they look in the Pre-Interview, and how we feel about them as a potential employee after the Interview. This allows us to easily weed out unqualified individuals and to identify our best candidates.
We ALWAYS call at least 3 references (non family members) for each of the applicants that we are considering hiring. While many employers have now adopted the policy of confirming employment only, I am always amazed at how many people will still talk with me about an applicant's history. We have discovered some very valuable information during this process. The most common discrepancies we find through references are previous dates of employment or job responsibilities that don't match up with what the applicant has reported.
When you have all of your information gathered and are ready to make your hiring decision, be careful to not fall into the trap of hiring nothing but other versions of yourself. While we are generally most comfortable with someone who is similar to us, that is not usually the best staffing plan for a program. As great as our ideas may be, we are more effective when we have someone who can look at things from a different point of view. We don't get that by hiring a lot of versions of ourselves. Stretch out. Don't hire someone because you feel a connection with them or because you feel really comfortable with them; hire them because they have solid credentials, great answers to your interview questions, and really know how to do the job for which you are hiring. Don't discount your gut feelings, but don't discount your process either.
Next week, we'll talk about extending an employment offer and saying "no thank you" to other applicants.
Image courtesy of www.FreeDigitalPhotos.net