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Hiring Managers: 3 Tips for Effective Interviewing

The hiring process can sometimes be protracted and arduous. Each component from crafting a job description to extending an offer letter is often accompanied by a significant level of effort and consideration. However, taking measures to make the steps of the hiring process more effective can help to minimize any inefficiencies along the way. For managers in search of counsel on the effectiveness of their methods, executive search firms like Kokott, Wood & Associates often serve as conduits for a wealth of knowledge and best practices with respect to conducting interviews. In many cases, and despite their functional expertise, a majority of business owners /managers are somewhat perplexed when it comes to the hiring process experience needed to conduct an effective interview.

Once resumes have been evaluated and candidates have been screened and selected, hiring managers customarily progress directly to the actual interviews. Conducting an interview effectively should equip the hiring manager with sufficient information to make a strong, educated assessment of the candidate's qualifications in terms of experience, knowledge and cultural fit. A consistent, effective interview methodology will enable the hiring manager to move forward in the decision-making process with confidence.

3 Tips for Conducting Effective Interviews

Managers and executives should systematically scrutinize their interviewing techniques, beginning with the questions they ask of candidates. It is paramount to recognize the time and effort that should go into preparing for and conducting interviews. For starters, ensure your interview habits adhere to the following core principles:

1. Take Time to Prepare: Just as candidates often research an organization in preparation for the interview, managers must mirror the preparation efforts. Before face to face interviews commence, develop a general interview itinerary for each open position. Your itinerary should include a list of questions for the candidate in addition to allocating time you'll use to explain the company's culture and your expectations for the position. Furthermore, designate an adequate period of time for the candidate to ask questions. Effective interview preparation should include a thorough assessment of each candidate's resume in advance. Be sure to list any specific questions about his/her experience and qualifications. All too often, well-prepared candidates begin an interview and grow painfully aware that the interviewer is only reading their resume for the first time. Such an evident lack of basic preparation can convey a sense of disorganization and an inability to manage time effectively, in addition to creating an impression of disinterest.

2. Stay on Track (avoid chit-chat): Stick with your interview itinerary and the questions you've prepared ahead of time. Avoid conversations that divert significantly into hobbies or interests. While it is pertinent to gain a sense of the candidate's personality and speaking style, make a concerted effort to avoid side bar discussions about non-essential topics. Keep the conversation relaxed, but adhere to your itinerary and control the pace of the dialogue. Ask your written questions and take detailed notes on the candidate's responses. Taking notes can serve as a template for transitioning from one question to the next. While you may discover that both parties enjoy classic cars, just refrain from lengthy diversions such as sharing a lengthy story about that 1929 Ford Model A you've been restoring. Commentary and light humor can be a great way to keep the discussion flowing, just remain focused and avoid tangents.

3. Ask Needs-Based Questions: This recommendation ties into tips 1 & 2. Your questions should be related to the requirements and objectives of the position. Make certain you're asking questions that will encourage the candidate to demonstrate how his/her experience is a fit for your position. This includes asking specific questions about his/her resume where you see a potential bridge between their work and accomplishments and the skills you want. It is important to take note of the candidate's personality and how he/she conducts himself, but avoiding asking too many "off the cuff" questions. Obtain the most pertinent and comprehensive information from your candidate by sticking to your itinerary.

In summary, prepare for every interview ahead of time and study each candidate's information ahead of time. Take detailed notes during every interview. Today's experienced and executive level candidates are often searching for a precise fit or may be exploring multiple opportunities concurrently. Any evidence of incomplete preparation is likely to send the wrong signals about how day to day operations are handled. In the event that interviewing is not one of your core strengths, consider contacting an executive search consultant for guidance in finding the best candidates and asking the right questions.

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Kokott, Wood & Associates provide a collection of proprietary articles sharing facts and suggestions modeled around industry trends, corporate cultures, changing markets, as well as tips for interviewing and improving resumes.

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Kokott, Wood & Associates specializes in placements of executives, management, IT, and other professionals in the C- Store and Petroleum Industry. With over 75 years of actual industry experience, our executive search professionals have the knowledge and insight to identify the right candidate to excel within your organization.

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  • Testimonials

    “Now that everyone is settled in, I have a few minutes to say thank you for your assistance in helping me land this position. Prior to my job search, I had never worked with recruiters and didn’t think I would ever need to. As you know, I had my resume with several other companies, but I’m glad your posting worked out for me. For starters, your description of the company, the hiring manager (now my VP), the pay plan and the area were so correct. This really helped us in deciding to pursue this opportunity and was especially helpful when we moved here. It was as we expected (hoped) it to be.

    Thank you so much!

    Wholesale Fuel Manager, Midwest Fuel Wholesaler / Distributor

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    "Klaus carefully orchestrated an action plan geared to differentiating my unique talents from the rest of the crowd. He readily made himself available to offer guidance and conduct thorough mock interviews designed to bring out my personal strengths and value to the hiring company. His focused approach not only helped prepare me for the interview process, but gave me the confidence that I was the right person for the job. Klaus is a top notch recruiter committed to strategically preparing clients for positions he has deemed are a strong fit. He truly cares about the success of his clients and the contributions they will make to the organization."

    Category Manager, Southwest US Retail Company

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    "I wasn't sure of the value of your Retained Search process when you first proposed the concept to me. I can now tell you (and others), it is the only way we'll ever conduct another search. You told me it would save me time, eliminate frustration, and provide me with a selection of 3-5 very qualified Candidates. I was truly impressed with the detail of Candidate information and your qualifying process; it was as if I knew the Candidate before I ever interviewed them. The time you spent with us, learning about our business, our culture and what this key position would be responsible for was time well spent. The most difficult task for us was that of making the final selection... "

    Fred - President/CEO - Retailer - East Coast

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    Having been a part of the recruitment process on both sides of the table I can definitely say that my experience with Kokott, Wood & Associates was a privilege. From the initial stage of describing the role & the company to the final negotiation stage - Kokott, Wood & Associates made sure all parties were well aware of the situation at hand. There wasn't one point in the process where I wondered where things stood and what next step(s) needed to take place. Their ability to communicate their client's expectations, company culture, and need(s) for the role could not have been better. It was a pleasure working with Kokott, Wood, & Associates, and I would highly recommend working with their professional team. I look forward to the next time I deal with them as a client.

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