Interviewing job candidates

Interviewing job candidates

If you run a business, there are few more important meetings you will take than the interviews you do with prospective staff. Your workforce is your most valuable asset and so staffing your office correctly will be essential to your success.

Yet interviewing is not a skill that comes naturally to everybody. Even the smartest business brains and the most competent managers might be unsure how to approach this situation. With that in mind, here are five top tips for running a successful interview.

Decide what you want

This might sound obvious, but it is amazing how many interviewers are themselves unsure of the kind of skills they want from a candidate before the meeting begins. Take the time to discuss this with other experts in your business, to be sure you are zeroing in on the right things during the conversation.

Write up the questions

Depending on your own personality, you might prefer to be a different type of interviewer. Some like to keep thing conversational, putting the candidate at ease with a natural, friendly style. Others prefer to plan rigidly in advance, writing down each and every question and sometimes even the correct responses that they are hoping to hear. Either way, you should write up a list of the areas you plan to touch on beforehand. The last thing you want to do is reach the end of the interview and then realise you forgot something crucial.

Keep it real

Always get your candidate to clarify their answers with references to real incidents and experiences from their past career. Vague promises to be ‘self-motivated' or a ‘fast learner' are meaningless unless they are proven by the interviewee's track record.

Don't evaluate until it's finished

Don't make the mistake of trying to weigh up everything the candidate says while they are saying it. Keep notes, record the answers, collect the evidence and then, when the candidate is gone, assess, overall, what they have brought to the table.

Consider a marking frame

If you are working in an interview team with other interviewers, it might be a smart move to set-up a ‘marking frame', which will rate the candidates against a set of criteria. This will help to formalise the process, ensuring you are doing more than just going on your gut instincts.

Most businesses fail

Most businesses fail

The sad truth of business is that, of all the businesses that are launched globally, around 80% fail within the first two years. Does that mean you shouldn't follow your dream of going into business by yourself? Absolutely not. But it does mean that you have to take the time to consider why so many companies do not last the pace and how you can avoid the same fate.

In order to put this in perspective, here are three questions that you should ask yourself before you set sail on your latest entrepreneurial voyage. If you are answering ‘no' to all or any of these, there's a good chance you are destined to end up in that 80%.

Is your business different to the rest of the market?

In an increasingly crowded business market, the average consumer is finding it harder and harder to differentiate between competitive companies. The net result of this is lots and lots of businesses fighting over the same small bit of turf and very few ever being recognised as a standout company in their field.

The key to differentiating yourself in the eyes of the market is to work out what the value of your business is. What does your business have that the others do not?

Can you communicate what is valuable about your company?

In the history of failed business ideas, there is a whole chapter devoted to brilliant concepts that tanked because they were never properly explained to the target market. Once you know what makes your company standout, the next step is to figure out how to tell the customers.

Make sure your message is clear, concise and compelling. Always ensure all communication with a potential customer ends with a call to action – tell them why they should be interested in your product and then present them with a way to purchase it.

Are you a leader?

Every business needs one – a steering influence that has the ability to relate to those in their charge and keep the enterprise moving in the right direction. You might not have all the skills of a good business leader.

Perhaps you are a great people person but not so good with discipline. Or maybe you are brilliant with strategising but not so good when it comes to giving orders. If you lack some of the skills you will either have to learn them or partner up with somebody that has them. No company was ever successful without reliable leadership.

Why now might be the perfect time to start

Why now might be the perfect time to start

With the World economy continuing to tread an uncertain path with trade tariff threats and protectionism, it might seem the last thing you want to do is to set-up shop on your own. The threat of recession and a lack of confidence in businesses in general is probably enough to put off even those with the necessary skill, ambition and capital to launch their own start-up.

Yet, as economic experts have pointed out time and time again, times of economic downturn are, in fact, the ideal time to establish a new company. There are several reasons for this:

Take advantage of people's desire to save

During times of economic strife, customers become far more careful with their money. If you are entering a crowded marketplace as a start-up, it is quite possible that you can minimise your overheads in a way larger, more established competitors cannot. Being the ‘cheap alternative' is a huge advantage when people's wallets get light.

Take advantage of high unemployment

While nobody likes to see unemployment figures rise, a high level of joblessness presents an opportunity to the new start-up. With so many qualified and ambitious people looking for work, the talent pool is much larger from which you can choose your employees.

Take advantage of decreased prices

Everything – from office furniture to rent to workforce – costs less when the economy is in trouble. By setting up your business at this time, you can purchase all the essentials of your workplace for a fraction of the price then if you waited for the economy to boom again.

Take advantage of a depleted field

Start your company during the boom-times and prepare to fight tooth and nail for position in an arena filled with powerful competitors. When money, and credit, is not so easy to get your hands on, a good half of those competitors, regardless of your industry, are likely to disappear.

Take advantage of a slow market place

A weak economy slows things down across the market place. In such an atmosphere, a dynamic young start-up is a real attraction. See the lack of activity in your field as an opportunity, not a disadvantage.

Reduce risk for a healthy business

Reduce risk for a healthy business

If the recent economic downturn has thought us anything, it is that business is no place for a compulsive gambler. Sure, occasionally, every good business person needs to take a chance on a long shot that might not make it but, for too long, too many CEOs have been living by the SAS maxim of ‘He who dare wins', needlessly risking and, often-times, losing their business' well-beings in the process.

In reality, that motto should be ‘He who takes the time to measure each individual risk in a given situation and stacks them up collectively against the potential rewards to calculate an accurate risk-rewards ratio wins', though that probably isn't quite so catchy.

Of course, even a solid risk-reward ratio leaves something to chance – after all, nothing in life or business is ever certain. But if you can honestly appraise the real pros and cons of a business opportunity and then have the confidence to follow your appraisal, you are in pole position in your chosen field.

The key to this is information. Before you invest in an idea, a business or a new venture, learn as much as you possibly can about it. Take it apart from every angle and measure the possibilities in the realest possible terms. The romantic business person is the failed business person – base all your information on things that are measurable in the realest possible terms.

A good example of a good risk-reward ratio, is when an investor purchases a business out of receivership. In many ways, this is the ideal time to purchase a company. Before receivership, a buyer would also have to take the liabilities as well as the assets, whereas after receivership the buyer just gets the assets and the equipment necessary to keep the business running.

So, whether you are investing in a company or starting your own venture, take every pre-caution and investigate the situation as deeply as possible in order to keep the risk-reward ratio tilted in your favour. If you don't fancy doing all that, then save yourself some time – open an online blackjack account and hit the tables.