The best people for your staff are the brightest, the most enthusiastic, caring, and diligent of all the applicants. How do you discern which applicant personifies these attributes and best suits the position? The most effective tool in meeting this objective is the personal interview.
If you've already prescreened the applicants and/or measured their skills, you're ready to proceed with interviewing. If not, take the necessary steps to reduce the number of candidates you will interview. Read on for complete information on each step of the interview process.
Begin by Compiling a List of Questions
Before scheduling any interviews, invest a little time into developing a strong list of questions. When interviewing multiple candidates for the same position, ask the same questions of each prospect in the same manner, allowing you to fairly compare candidate responses.
Here are some sample questions to get you started:
- Tell me something interesting about yourself.
- What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?
- What five words would you say describe you best?
- Have you ever done this kind of work before?
- What are your long-range goals?
- Why do you want to work here?
- Why did you leave your last job? Why do you want to leave your current job?
- Tell me about your attendance at your previous jobs and/or school?
- What would your previous employers tell me about you?
- What are your salary requirements?
- Why should we hire you for this job?
- What kind of software are you familiar with? Do you have training operating any diagnostic or treatment equipment (X-rays, etc.)?
- How do you work under pressure or tight deadlines?
- What would you do in this situation? (Describe a work-related scenario.)
- What do you think of working in a group?
- When would you be able to start?
- Would you be willing to work as a temporary or contract employee?
- Do you have any knowledge or personal experience with chiropractic?
Here are topics you can't ask about:
- Ancestry and perceived race, color, nationality, place of origin, etc.
- Family status
- Marital status
- Mental disability
- Physical disability
- Receipt of public assistance
- Gender-related questions
- Sexual orientation
Scheduling and Conducting Interviews
After you've identified the questions you want to ask, it's time to schedule interviews. Here are some tips to simplify the process, whether you're holding a group interview or private interviews.
Conducting a Group Interview
The easiest way to compare applicants, save valuable time, and assure that each applicant received the same information is to conduct a group interview.
To begin, determine two times (a lunch hour and an evening) for interviews. When the applicant completes the application forms, inform them that you have two interview times available. It is not necessary to state that this will be a group interview, since each applicant will be individually interviewed at the end of the group session. Be sure to let them know that the interview will take about an hour. If they have not done so, remind them to bring a resume to the interview.
It is advisable to have one or two other people present during the group interview. If you have staff members, ask them to participate. A variety of feedback helps in the decision-making. If you do not currently have staff, ask a spouse or friend to attend. As the applicants arrive, have them sign in. This will determine the order for the personal interview.
Once everyone is assembled, introduce yourself and take about five minutes to explain the mission of your office. Ask if any of the applicants are familiar with chiropractic or are patients of a chiropractor. Ask if anyone is willing to give a description of chiropractic (these answers can be quite revealing).
Since many people have preconceived ideas about chiropractic based on their own experiences or the experiences of others, it's helpful to give a five-to-ten minute overview of chiropractic and the way in which you practice. If your practice is family oriented, explain. If you are an acute care practice, explain. If you use a particular technique, explain. But keep it brief! Don't overwhelm applicants, and don't turn the interview into a spinal care class.
Take five minutes to describe: the position(s), work hours, benefits, daily responsibilities, continuing education workshops required, and any expected travel. (Since some people may have restrictions as to when and how much they can travel, it is important to clarify your travel expectations.) Do not discuss salary, but give a salary range, based on experience.
Thank everyone for attending and invite anyone who is interested in a personal interview to stay. Inform the applicants that you will be interviewing people in the order listed on the sign-in sheet. Tell applicants that if they do not wish to be interviewed, they can cross their name off the list and leave. At that time, leave the room. This will allow anyone who does not want to be interviewed an opportunity to leave without feeling awkward.
Conducting the Private Interview
Collect any additional paperwork that was completed at sign-in. Review the material briefly. Call each applicant into a private office and spend no more than five minutes asking open-ended questions.
Inform each applicant that this is an initial interview and that you will be calling people back for a second interview in a few days. If you have particularly good feelings about an applicant, schedule a second interview on the spot! With the tight employment market, don't take the chance that the applicant might accept another job before you get around to calling him or her back.
Scoring Each Applicant
After seeing five to six people, it becomes hard to remember specifics. Having a note on the application that says "nice smile" may not help you assess whom to call back. A simple 1-2-3 should be sufficient. Ask for feedback from your "scouts" who observed the applicants in the open interview portion. After you complete the interviews, re-evaluate each application. Don't call the twos and threes. You should have already set up second appointments with all the applicants you rated as "ones."
Holding the Second Interviews and Measuring Skills
The second interview is the time to ask each applicant the same open-ended questions. Open-ended questions have no "right" or "wrong" answers (be sure to tell the applicant this), but rather are used to evaluate the person's ability to make a decision quickly.
This is also the time to discuss salary and verify a possible start date. Answer all questions the applicant may have. If the candidate doesn't have any questions, go down your checklist and be sure the person is clear on your position for each item. Ask permission to contact the applicant's current (or past) employer and personal references. Ask the applicants what they think their references will say about them. This is usually interesting feedback. Before the applicant leaves, ask him or her to complete a skills test. Let the applicant know WHEN you will be calling back (no more than three to four days).
Once you have narrowed the list of candidates and completed interviews, it's always best to check references. However, be leery of putting too much weight on positive references since virtually everyone has some positive references.
Making the Final Choice
How do you choose between top job candidates? Look at a variety of factors in addition to the candidates' interviews and references.
- If possible, simulate the actual work the employee will perform.
- Review the results of any measurement tests for clues on how the employee would fit in the job.
- Get plenty of input from others, which also makes other staff members feel more accepting of new hires.
- Trust your instincts and make hiring decisions based on qualifications and the right fit for the office.
Now that you have identified a candidate you'd like to hire, you're ready to make an offer.
Thanking All the Applicants
Once a final candidate is chosen, it's best to notify all of the candidates who were not selected for the opening—perhaps by sending a form letter. This provides closure to the process and allows you to thank the people who have taken the time to apply for your opening.
Also, it's important to keep in mind that even though there may be only one candidate hired, most of the individuals interviewed will be from your local area and may need chiropractic services at some time in the future. The way in which you handle this part of the process can often make a positive and lasting impression.