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Guidelines For Planning & Conducting Employment Interviews
by: Nick Roy
By Nick Roy, MBA, MAHRM

As a small business owner and manager, you are faced with a number of challenges. One of which is the hiring and managing of your employees. You are responsible for the productivity of your people in an ever changing business environment.

You post a job opening in the local paper on a job board, such as, and you will be flooded with resumes. Resumes from people that claim that they have the knowledge, skills, and abilities that you require for that job. Your responsibility as a small business owner is to find that "diamond in the ruff."

Here are some guidelines that I have used in conducting interviews of web designers and programmers from days owning a web design company.

A couple of key points to keep in mind:

NEVER ask a yes/no question. These types of questions need to be reserved for the application form.

ALWAYS ask open ended questions. When I interviewed to fill positions in my web design company, I treated the interview as an oral examination. The goal is to make the applicants think so that you can select the most qualified to be in your organization. The more grueling your selection process into your organization, the more your employees will have in common with one another, since they have all gone through that grueling examination. They will feel that they are the cream of the crop.

Let's say that you were hiring for a Training Manager. One type of question that you could ask in the first interview is this:

"When does team or group learning make sense or not make sense?"

Here is another example of questions that you could ask applicants for a Recruiter position.

"Is a contingent job a good job? Will contingent work grow in the future?"

"What are some positive aspects of using the Internet as a recruiting source? What are some dangers?"

This is fundamental background knowledge of the field that the applicant is applying to work in. The goal with asking a question like this is to evaluate the applicants knowledge of their field. If they can't answer the question, then it appears that they are lacking the knowledge of their field.

If applicants pass this examination, then they can move on to the next interview (i.e. examination). The purpose of this examination will be on their problem solving and decision making abilities. Every position in a company requires the employee to possess problem solving and decision making abilities.

Here is an example question you could ask an applicant applying for a retail position.

You are stocking shelves when a customer approaches you and asks about a certain product. You know that you don't carry that particular product, but the customer insists that she has bought a similar product at another store. How would you handle this situation?

This is a type of situational question that assesses an applicants customer service skills. You know that the applicant has the knowledge, because they made it to this round. What you are assessing is whether the applicant can apply their knowledge to a particular situation to solve a customer service problem.

Treating the employment interview as an oral examination, can better assist you as a small business owner to decide which applicant has the knowledge, skills, and abilities to "contribute" to the success of your organization.

About the author:
About the Author
Nick Roy is the Owner of The Human Resources Research Institute ( He currently holds a Master of Business Administration and Master of Arts in Human Resources Management from Hawaii Pacific University, and a Bachelor of Science in Hospitality Management from Florida Metropolitan University, Fort Lauderdale.

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