Here are some tips to help managers get the most out of the process.

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While managers are typically a major part of the hiring and interview process, they’re often short on experience, confidence and time. Here are some tips to help managers get the most out of the process:

PREPARING

You and the candidate need to exchange a good deal of information in a short amount of time. The right kind of preparation will help you spend the time efficiently. Do this work before you post a job opening, so your message is consistent throughout the hiring process.

Know the job. What’s the purpose of this job? What does success look like? What skills are required? You should have answers to these questions. Also, think about how flexible you can be about job requirements — if the position could or should be restructured to accommodate a particular candidate.

Know yourself. What’s it like to work for you? Do you want someone who is independent, or someone who works better as a team player? Do you prefer a self-starter or would you rather manage someone who clears things through you first?

Know the organization. How would you describe the culture and work climate? What is the mission,
vision and philosophy? What kind of salary, benefits and promotions can an employee expect? It’s important not to make any promises, but be honest about the opportunities.

What to ask. Develop questions you need and want to ask all applicants. Be aware that asking questions of some — but not all — applicants could be interpreted as reflecting bias. Make sure questions are related to the applicant’s experience and nature of the job he or she seeks.

Scheduling. Outline each interview as you would a meeting agenda, with allotted time for introductions, your questions and the applicant’s questions. Give yourself enough time to record your impressions.
Where to interview. Choose a quiet place, preferably not your office or — at least — don’t interview the candidate from behind your desk.

DURING THE INTERVIEW

Listen and observe carefully. Avoid phrasing your next question in your mind when you should be listening to the applicant’s answer. And listen to what’s not being said: What is the candidate enthusiastic about? What topics get avoided? How organized and clear are the responses?

Maintain control. Bring interviews back on track by interrupting — at a pause — with an approval or agreement. Then change the subject or take a new direction.

Acknowledge the downside. Don’t avoid negative aspects about the job. Say, “This job requires about 40 percent data entry, and there’s little contact with other employees. How do you feel about those conditions?”

Be consistent. Take interview notes in the same way for each candidate, and follow the same pattern for organizing each interview. It’ll be easier to compare the candidates later.

Stay legal. Avoid topics that could generate hiring-bias lawsuits — age, race, religion or disability. If the candidate brings up these topics, steer the conversation back to the job.

AFTER THE INTERVIEW

Give yourself time. Don’t make a commitment to any candidate until you’ve interviewed, evaluated and compared all of them.

Check out the details. It’s becoming rare for prior employers to provide in-depth references, but you can and should verify important details on resumes and applications.

Rank the candidates. Identify major areas to evaluate — experience, skills, knowledge and so on — and rank each candidate.