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Agrimarketing : October 2009
18 Agri Marketing I October 2009 Preparation and planning for conducting interviews is just the first step to finding the right candidate. However, if you don’t truly understand the organization’s needs for the role and what you should be looking for in a candi- date’s interview responses all the preparation and planning in the world won’t end with the desired results. A QUALIFIED TALENT POOL When an organization looks to fill a position, typically the first action is to create a job description or re-evaluate an existing job descrip- tion. Most organizations do not spend enough time in this stage. Having an accurate and true reflection of the position and skills/ education needed is the easiest way to increase the level of qualified can- didates in the pool. Whether you start from scratch or use an existing job description, sit down with those that will work directly with this individual as well as a few members of upper manage- ment to assess the tasks and duties of this role. Brainstorm all of the types of things this role will contribute to the business as well as what the overall objectives this person will accomplish should be. Then take a look at what expectations are for end results or outcomes of hiring for this role and how the candidate’s success will be measured. By getting several perspectives you will have a more accurate list of responsibilities for the role. As you develop the job descrip- tion, make a list of all of the types of skills, traits, education and profes- sional experiences that would be beneficial for the candidate to have. Then assess the must haves, the nice to haves, and those that maybe aren’t necessary to include. You want to be broad enough to encompass a num- ber of candidates, but not so broad that everyone feels that they are a fit for the position. Sorting through resumes takes time and casting a wide net doesn’t always yield the most effective results. One thing to note, be sure to be honest about the tasks and duties — don’t elaborate to the point that the job description doesn’t accurately reflect the job itself. Employee satis- faction is directly related to the job and the work itself. If the actual job is very different from what was described in the job description or during the interview process the organization will lose credibility with the new employee. WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN AN INTERVIEW After you’ve sorted through all of the resumes and done initial screening of candidates, the next step is to bring in the top candidates for an interview. A critical component to effectively evalu- ating the candidates is to be sure that you ask a similar series of questions, if not the exact same set to each candi- date. This is a simple way to compare responses from several candidates. Also, be sure to take notes. If you con- duct several interviews within a short timeframe, keeping track of who said what can be difficult and having the notes allows you to go back and better evaluate when making your decision. Behavioral based questions have proven to give the most insight about candidates. These are questions that ask the candidate to explain a situa- tion, what they did and what the out- come was. Questions are phrased to get at core characteristics or traits of a candidate and the thought is that past behavior is a depiction of future behavior. For example, if you want to understand a bit about the candidate’s decision making ability you might ask, “Describe a difficult decision you recently made at work, what factors did you consider, and how did you feel about the decision after making it.” Or, if you wanted to understand their customer service skills a question you might ask would be, “Tell me about your most difficult customer. Describe a specific interaction you had with this customer and what the out- come of the interaction was.” When asking these types of ques- tions, you want to make sure that all components of the question are answered. If they aren’t, don’t be afraid to ask a follow-up question about the part they’ve left out. Also, if you need more detail or clarifica- tion on something, be sure to ask for that as well. There are some very basic questions that get asked during most interviews — tell me a little about yourself, what is your expected salary range, are you willing to relocate, etc. In a recent article from the AgCa- reers.com Canadian Agribusiness Employer Guide (September 2009 Agri Marketing magazine, Canadian issue), we asked actual employers what they hope to hear in a response to some of these basic yet difficult interview questions. “Tell me a little about yourself.” Typically the first question asked in an interview. Mary Birley, Talent Recruiting Consultant at Cargill, offered the following insight into what employers should look for in a response. “The purpose of this question is to make you (the candidate) comfortable and start off the interview by getting to talk about yourself without having to answer a tough question right away.” She says the candidate should touch on what they have done in school, some past jobs, a few extracur- ricular activities, and career goals. She also mentions that it is good to explain how the position fits into their career goals. For a copy of the whole article, please contact AgCareers.com at firstname.lastname@example.org. FOLLOW-UP Most interviewers feel that they have one shot to get all of their questions asked and answered by the candi- date. But, that isn’t true. If after you’ve interviewed several candi- dates and you have follow-up ques- tions for an earlier candidate, don’t hesitate to contact them again by phone, e-mail or invite them in for a second interview. Taking this extra step and time to be confident in your decision will help you find the right candidate and make the most informed decision. AM INTERVIEW RESPONSES The Scoop on Recruiting 18 AgCareers Advertorial:14 AgCareers Advertorial 10/1/09 4:20 PM Page 18
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