“We don’t have an interview process. We’re haphazard and I think that leads to some of the hiring problems we’ve had. Would like to get a lot better at interviewing and hiring the right people for my company. Can you help?”

Thoughts of the Day: Lay out a process that you can use every time. Consider testing to gain some insight. Decide who should be involved in the interviews, and in what order. Keep evaluating your process to compare results and see how to improve.

Think through the steps your company goes through to hire a candidate once you have applicants to look at.

Make sure you can get multiple looks at the candidate to see if they’re consistent across all meetings and conversations. If you’re in a low unemployment economy, plan to work quickly to move through interviews, check references, refine the job offer and negotiate salary.

Don’t get into job specifics at first.

Rather, spend time finding out the candidates’ backgrounds. Compare that background to the ideal job description to see if there’s a fit, without giving away too much detail to the candidate, to limit how much they craft their descriptions to meet your needs.

Be clear upfront about the range of job compensation and say that compensation is based on how well the candidates’ experiences match the job you’re looking to fill. Be careful about asking for historical salary from candidates as that’s now an illegal question in some states.

Think about using tests to gain insight and create questions you can put to the candidates.

You can baseline your company by asking current employees to go through the tests, then compare how candidates answer questions to your current based of employees. That can be a mixed bag, as you want diversity in your workforce but you also want a cohesive culture.

As owner and head of the firm, you probably don’t want to be doing the first interview, even if it’s a top tier candidate. Ask someone else in the company to meet with candidates first and get a feel for them. Develop scripts to use for each of 3 interviews. Have someone in each interview who takes notes, or consider taping interviews – just get the candidate’s permission to use the recording device. Use a lot of repeat questions, to see if candidates remain consistent throughout the interview process.

As you go through interviews, take time out to debrief how the interviews are going.

Check on candidates post-hire – the ones you hired and the ones you let go if you can keep track of them. Look for the most successful candidates, pull out the interview notes to see if they drew out information that would indicate the candidate would be successful. Do the same with your failures. Keep refining the process as you go through the years, until you feel that you have a process that works well every time.

Looking for a good book?

Try, “High-Impact Interview Questions: 701 Behavior-Based Questions to Find the Right Person for Every Job“, by Victoria Hoevemeyer.