green beans blog interviewing

Tips on Interviewing Employees

If you look online, you’ll find hundreds of pages that give you interview tips – what to wear, how to act, when to arrive, and what kind of questions you need to be prepared to answer. It’s much harder, however, to find tips when you’re doing the interviewing or hiring. If you’re a small business owner with little HR experience, conducting your first interview can be a little bit daunting. You have to skim resumes, conduct interviews, and choose the perfect candidate. Whether you’re hiring your first employee or an additional one, we’ll tell you all you need to know when interviewing employees.

Set the Scene

The first thing to do is decide on the interview format. One-on-one, in-person interviews are the norm, but they aren’t your only option. If you’re hiring a sales rep who lives across the country, or you’re out of town on business, phone or Skype interviews are also a great option. Phone interviews can also be a great screening method. You can conduct phone interviews with 5-10 candidates first, then bring in the top 3 for a face-to-face interview. Depending on the nature of your industry, group interviews might also be an option to consider. These are helpful for project-based positions where working with a team is essential. Decide if you want anyone else sitting in on the interview with you. If you’re part of a small team where personality is important, you might want to consider having your whole team present.

Know What You Want in an Employee

As the interviewer, the most important thing that you can do is to be prepared: know exactly what you’re searching for. Think about education, experience, and skills. Make sure that you have a detailed job description and a list of the expected roles and responsibilities. Think about personality – do you need someone outgoing? A team player? A leader? You can also prepare by being familiar with the candidate you’re interviewing. Go over his or her resume and be ready to ask questions if you have any. Check references, look at the candidate’s LinkedIn profile, as well as their social media.

It’s important to have a list of questions before the candidate even comes through the door. The two most important kinds of questions that you want to include are fact-based questions and behavioral questions. Fact-based questions are often easy for you to come up with and easy for the candidate to answer, but they’re important nonetheless. Examples include: Tell me about your most recent internship. Can you explain this responsibility further? Behavioral questions are much more open-ended and usually begin with the phrase “Tell me about a time when….” You can tailor these questions to fit the qualifications you’re looking for in your employee: Tell me about a time when you made a mistake and how you overcame it. Tell me about a time when you took the lead on a project. Tell me about a time when you had to multi-task and how you handled it. Make sure that you have plenty of questions planned and rank them in order of importance in case you can’t get through all of them in the time allotted for the interview.

Hold a Conversation

Even though you probably have a lot of questions that you want to get in during the interview, make sure that you’re having an actual conversation, NOT an interrogation. You’re not the one being interviewed, so don’t spend the whole time talking about yourself or your company. Instead, listen hard! Take notes and ask for clarification when you don’t understand. Experts suggest that the interviewer only speak 10-20% of the time, or else you’ll interview yourself. Make sure that you also leave time so that the interviewee can ask you questions. These questions are a great way to gauge his or her interest in the company and how much he or she prepared for the interview. Conclude your interview by thanking the candidate for his or her time. Tell them your hiring timeline, and when they can expect an answer from you.

Analyze Your Options

The final thing to consider when conducting your first interview is how you’ll decide whom to choose. Many experts suggest that you use a rating system. Write down notes and rate each candidate on qualities that matter to you after their interview. Although personality is important, you’re not hiring someone to be your best friend. You’re hiring someone who can fulfill a necessary role in your company. Rating forces you to consider whether or not someone hits the important marks rather than getting distracted by someone who is friendly, but might not be the best choice for the job.

When you decide which candidate to hire, welcome them enthusiastically. Let the other candidates know of your decision, but tell them how much you appreciated their time and let them know that you hope they’ll keep your company in mind for potential future opportunities. Congratulations! You’ve successfully completed the interview process and have (hopefully) hired a wonderful new addition for your team.

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green beans blog linkedin

Networking Tips: LinkedIn 101

LinkedIn is a professional networking site, allowing anyone to build and customize their digital resume, grow their industry network, and stay connected with current contacts. As with any professional role, LinkedIn has some unspoken rules of etiquette one should follow. We’ve constructed some DO’s and Don’ts of using this site, so you can best utilize it to build your professional network and make a great first impression. Read on for some top-notch networking tips!

DO send a customized invitation to connect

It’s always better to send a customized invitation when you’re trying to make a new connection, as opposed to a generic, pre-filled request. You always need to be thinking about how you can make yourself stand out, especially if using LinkedIn for job hunting or searching for clients. Take a few extra minutes and really personalize your message to the professional you’re reaching out to. Let them know why you’re connecting, and you’re much more likely to get a response.

DON’T send two (or ten) requests

We know that it’s annoying when it’s been weeks and someone STILL hasn’t responded to your invitation. However, that doesn’t mean that it’s okay for you to delete that request and send another one, just to “remind” them. There might be a reason that they weren’t so quick to accept your request, and it only makes you look desperate if you bombard them with one after another. You’ve done your part, you’ve reached out with a personal message. Now the ball is in their court, and it’s their choice whether or not they want to connect with you.

DO respond to messages and invitations promptly

Knowing how frustrating it can be when somebody doesn’t respond to your invitation as quickly as you would like, don’t do the same to others. A good rule of thumb is to treat LinkedIn like e-mail. It’s perfectly acceptable to wait 24 or sometimes even 48 hours to respond, but any longer than that is just rude. Don’t start off on the wrong foot! A prompt response shows that you’re organized, professional, and interested in building relationships. Let LinkedIn send you email notifications or make it a part of your daily schedule to check for new invitations. Whichever method you decide to use, make sure to stick with it!

DON’T ask someone you don’t know well for a recommendation or endorsement

Would it be awesome if the VP of the company you worked for and met maybe 2 times in 10 years gave you a glowing recommendation? YES! Is it okay for you to ask for one? NO WAY! We’re not saying that you shouldn’t ask a close colleague if she’s willing to endorse you for a specific skill that she’s seen you perform – you should be doing that. But don’t ask acquaintances or new connections if they’re willing. It will portray you as desperate, and may even make the person feel uncomfortable or pressured. On the same note, just because you’ve endorsed someone doesn’t mean they have to endorse you back. Remember that this isn’t Twitter! Concentrate on getting endorsements from those you know well – they’ll be much more beneficial to you in the long run, anyway.

DO endorse your colleagues

Don’t be afraid to endorse your colleagues for skills that you’ve seen them embody. It makes them feel good about themselves and will help you build both a professional and digital LinkedIn relationship with them. However, don’t endorse someone for a skill that you can’t bear witness to. Being anything but honest will come back to haunt you in the long run, and you don’t want to put yourself in that position. Stick to endorsing people that you know well for skills that you know they can perform.

DON’T start a message with “I see you’ve viewed my profile…”

Creepy, right? Being able to see who has viewed your profile is a particularly cool LinkedIn feature, but not one that you should take advantage of. Don’t start by saying that you see they’ve viewed you; they’re already aware of that Plus, it could make things a bit uncomfortable if they’ve viewed you and then chosen not to reach out to you. If you do want to connect with someone who has viewed your profile, that’s perfectly fine. Just send a personalized connection request – talk about your common interests, mutual connections, etc, and then let them respond how and when they’d like.

DO make lots of connections

That’s what LinkedIn is for, right?! Don’t be afraid to reach out to anyone,no matter how much higher or lower you think you are on a professional scale than them. Ignoring someone’s request could cost you an interview for your dream job, as could being too proud to reach out to someone less qualified than you. In the professional world, it’s all about who you know. The connections you make will have their own connections established, and breaking into their web of contacts is the best way to grow your own.

Best of luck!

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