In order to find facts, managers must know how to keep their preconceived biases in check and how to ask questions that will reveal valuable information about a candidate's talents, values, motivation, and other relevant characteristics.
To improve interviews, follow this handy checklist:
- Ask specific, fact-finding questions: Turning generalities into specifics is much better than asking a bunch of 'clever' questions.
- Conduct values-based interviews: Dig deep into a candidate's accomplishments to understand how he achieved them. Explore significant, specific actions that say something about what he values and how he brings those values into practice.
- Insist that every interviewer do her homework: This includes reviewing the resume, reading the job description, knowing her assigned role, and being prepared to conduct an evidence-based interview.
- Park the emotional biases: Invoke the "collect information before deciding" methodology.
- Time is on your side: You need at least 60 minutes to conduct good in-depth discussions of a candidate's accomplishments and to gain a good understanding of how she approaches problem solving.
Don't forget to on-board properly
Finally, when you find that "right" person, think carefully about how, when and who will make the offer, and what will happen next. The first 90 days of a new employee's tenure are often a critical period for launching a successful career.
If you don't get the first 90 days right, what looked like a great hire may turn into a not-so-great employee. This is a time for listening, for building relationships, for understanding the culture – the real priorities of the organization and the way things get done. Mistakes made in early interactions can have a long half-life and be hard to overcome. So make a deal with all new hires that you'll give them immediate and specific feedback. And make it two-way, so you can course correct as soon as they run into problems.
Joel C. Peterson is the chairman of JetBlue Airways and a professor of business at Stanford University in Palo Alto, CA.