Assessing a candidate is a complicated process that can’t be accomplished just by reading a resume or asking “What’s your greatest weakness?” To find out whether someone is a good fit for both the job opening and your company as a whole, you have to fully understand their skills, motivation, personality, goals, strengths, and weaknesses -- but that’s not all. You also have to think deeply about your own company’s culture, strengths, and weaknesses to find out how a candidate will fit in and where they can fill in the gaps on your team. Too many companies make the mistake of believing that a brief, surface-level interview with a candidate will tell them everything they need to know. Here are a few things you should be doing before, during, and after the interview to make sure you’re not just hiring a good candidate -- you’re hiring the right one.
Before the Interview:
1. Study your own company. Make sure you have a strong understanding of your company culture, so that you can identify any red flags in a potential candidate. For example, is your company pursuing cutting-edge construction technologies and innovations, or is your success based on tried-and-true traditions and methods? Do you treat your employees like family, or do you focus entirely on the work? Once you have a good grasp of the most important aspects of your company culture, identify where your existing team is strong and where they might have shortcomings. For instance, do you have several up-and-coming Project Managers who could benefit from a mentor? Or perhaps you have a skilled group of analytical minds but need someone who specializes in presenting technical concepts in an accessible way to owners.
2. Google the candidate. You can learn a lot about a candidate by Googling them. Look for red flags, such as news articles about struggling projects or social media pages with inappropriate content. You should also check to see if anything stands out in a positive way, from LinkedIn recommendations to industry publications.
During the Interview:
3. Ask the right questions. Go beyond traditional interview questions about strengths and weaknesses; ask strategic, practical questions about the candidate’s work and test their technical skills. You might have an Estimator fill out a sample estimate using information from a job your company bid but didn’t win. That can help you see if they are on par with, ahead of, or behind your current team. For a Project Manager, ask them to walk you through a day in their current job. Make sure they touch on business development, relationships, change orders, etc. You should also find out what motivates them, how they handle stressful situations, and what they see as an ideal working environment. Based on their answers, do they seem like a good fit for your organization?
4. Talk to them outside of the office. One of the best ways to really get to know whether someone will work well on your team is to take them out of a formal interview setting. Meet up for drinks or coffee, and bring along a few of your teammates who are a good representation of your company culture. That way, you can see how the candidate’s personality meshes with his or her future coworkers.
After the Interview:
5. Get a variety of references. It’s a common mistake to get references from a candidate’s former boss -- and no one else. You’ll get a more complete picture of their performance and behavior if you look at a potential new employee from all angles. Speak to their supervisors, their peers, and any direct reports they had. Make sure to ask about major successes and struggles in their previous roles, but also find out whether the person had any personality conflicts with anyone, and if so, what type of personality they clashed with. If that personality is a match for their new supervisor, that could spell trouble for a long-term fit.
6. Trust your gut. After you’ve interviewed them, met them for coffee with the team, and spoken to their references, it’s time to make a decision. You know your company and your teammates, and now you’ve done your due diligence on the candidate, so trust your instincts about whether or not this person will be an asset to your team.