How to ace the interview as a hiring manager

No part of the hiring process is more tedious than interviewing. Reviewing resumes is not typically time-consuming. However, phone screens and in-person interviews can take up several hours just to hire one employee. Who has time for that?

Stop Thinking the Old Way

By using smart recruiting techniques, you can reduce your time to hire to 4-5 hours.

1. Resume Review

Low cost technology now allows even small business owners to reduce the time it takes to review resumes from 2 hours to less than 30 minutes. You can filter resumes that don’t meet the qualifications, and you have the ability to see the most important information at a glance.

2. Replace the Phone Screen

Do you call applicants before meeting them in person? Don’t. Roughly 50% of the applicants you call will not answer the phone, and roughly 50% of those that you schedule an interview with will not show up. Save time and increase the number of applicants who remain interested in your position by texting applicants who meet minimum qualifications with an in-person interview request. Set aside a few hours of time to conduct all interviews and share that window with your applicants. Should candidates overlap, they generally do not mind waiting until it is their turn to interview.

3. Cast a Wide Net

Because you have sped up the time to interview, you will have retained the attention of more applicants before they move on to the next job. You will be able to cast a wider net with more candidates that arrive to interview, and that will lead to a hire in half the time.

Pro-tip: Skip the phone screen

Text each applicant with a request to schedule a 15 minute interview. Let them know when and where you’ll be conducting interviews.

Conducting a Great Interview

Before the interview, make sure you are prepared. Review the top five job duties, minimum requirements and behaviors that you listed. This will ensure you ask the right questions.

Interviews follow a basic structure. You’ll want to start the interview by telling them who you are and about the business, so that the applicant feels comfortable. Then, you can ask them any questions you have (we have provided some good ones on page 19-20). You want to make sure to leave time at the end for their questions. At the end of the interview, let them know when they can expect to hear back about the job.

If you have found an applicant that you are particularly interested in, take a few minutes to conduct a Reference Check. Reference Checks are an overlooked yet effective tool for hiring top performers. A quick five minute reference check can help you avoid hiring an employee who had serious performance issues in their last position. If you are unable to obtain a few positive references, it is a red flag.

Pro-tip: Get them excited

DO NOT take lots of notes. You can write a bit, but keep any notes brief. Instead, try to maintain eye contact. Applicants tend to get nervous when the interviewer scribbles long
DO sell your job to them. They have lots of other jobs they are likely applying to,so remind them of the benefits of working for you. Communicate the highest amount you’re willing to pay and you’ll attract the best candidates.

Reference Checks are an overlooked yet effective tool for hiring top performers.

Click on the images below for a reusable guide to interview questions you should ask. You can also download the complete set of interview documents in the Hiring Guide PDF.

interview guide interview guide 2
reference check

What You Can and Cannot Ask in an Interview

Did you know that there are certain questions you cannot ask in an interview because federal and state laws prohibit it? Using this chart, you will be able to gather information and get to know your candidate, as well as protect yourself and the company from potential legal issues.

Acceptable Subject Unacceptable
Have you ever worked for this company under another name? Name Have you had any other names? What is your maiden name?
No acceptable questions Birthplace Where were you born? Where were your parents born?
Are you over eighteen years of age?
FOR DRIVERS: Are you over twenty-one years of age?
Age How old are you? Any questions attempting to determine the age of the applicant are unacceptable
There are no acceptable questions concerning an applicant’s religion. Religion Any questions about a person’s religion or about what days they may need off for religious holidays.
Can you meet the attendance requirements of the position being applied for? Work Schedule Any questions about health conditions or responsibilities for child care that would lead to absences from work.
Follow-up inquiries to application only. Criminal Background Have you ever been arrested/convicted of a crime?
Languages that applicant can read, write, or speak. Race and National Origin Any questions seeking to elicit what race the applicant is or other questions
indicating race or color.
The only acceptable question is whether, if the applicant is offered the job, he or she will be able to prove they are employable. Citizenship Any questions asking or seeking to elicit what nationality the applicant is.
Applicant’s educational background. Education When did you graduate high school? When did you receive your degree?
What is your work experience? Do you have experience with the U.S. Armed Forces? Why did you leave your last job? Experience What type of discharge did you receive from the military?
Name of any relatives who are employed by the company. Relatives Are you married? What relatives live with you? With whom do you reside?
Can you perform the essential functions of the position for which you are interviewing? Physical Condition Are you disabled? Are you healthy? Any questions concerning Workers’ Compensation claims.
No acceptable questions. Marital Status, Children, Child Care Do you have children? How many children do you have? Who is responsible for driving the children to school?
Inquiries made only if a business necessity can be shown. Military Service Discharge Inquiries made into the nature of an honorable discharge.
No acceptable questions. Economic Status Inquiries regarding financial status–bankruptcy, car or home ownership, garnishments–may be illegal because of
disparate impact on minorities.
Inquiries into job related organizations. Organizations Are you a member of a union? The names of organizations the applicant belongs that would indicate race, religion or ancestry.

Asking About Criminal History

Understandably, for many employers, a candidate’s criminal record is a matter of both interest and potential concern in the hiring process. While sometimes valuable in making a hiring decision, considering a candidate’s criminal record is fraught with legal risk.

Luckily, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has provided guidance that can help small businesses steer clear of any appearance of discrimination. Below is a list of the top pitfalls to avoid when asking about criminal history in the hiring process and suggestions to get the information you need while remaining compliant with the law.

Don’t: Ask about criminal history on the application.

Do: If important to the position, you can ask if an applicant has ever been convicted of a crime during the interview.

Why: Questions about criminal history on an application may appear that applicants are eliminated before the company has the full picture. Some states have even banned requesting criminal history on the application. Even when it is not illegal, the EEOC advises the evaluation of criminal history as only one factor of an applicant’s fit for the position.

Don’t: Run a background check prior to making an offer.

Do: Run a background check only after making an offer and according to a written company policy.

Why: Running a background check prior to the offer can be interpreted as discrimination based on an applicant’s race, ethnicity, or other protected class. It can be very difficult for a company to prove otherwise in a discrimination lawsuit. Create a written company policy that outlines conditions for running a background check and define when it occurs during the hiring process. This approach will help you avoid the appearance of discrimination while staying true to your hiring standards.

Don’t: Set a predetermined hard and fast policy that eliminates candidates with adverse criminal history.

Do: Evaluate the criminal history of each candidate within the larger context of ability to perform the job.

Why: Although the process may appear fair and objective, the EEOC advises against a hard and fast policy as it may eliminate candidates for reasons that have no relation to their ability to perform the job. The EEOC advises that employers should instead consider the circumstances and context of the crime in the likelihood that criminal history may be an indicator of the applicant’s ability to add value to the team and the position.

The Homebase Guide to Hiring

In the Homebase Guide to Hiring, we cover:​

1. Introduction
2. Writing a Job Post that Works

3 . Acing the Interview as the Hiring Manager

4. Effective Employee Onboarding
5. Evaluating Candidates in a Competitive Job Market

Your business can use the tips and tricks in this guide to hire the employees you need, reduce turnover, and save a lot of time.

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