How to bring in the right team members by interviewing well

Here are a few simple rules to remember if you've been asked to participate in the interviewing process for a project team membor or a contractor.

The process of acquiring staff is an important one for the project manager and the other team members. After all, the people that you bring in will have a direct bearing on the overall success of the project. You want these people to be well qualified and you need to make sure that you can get along with them.

Sometimes these are employee positions. Just as often they may be contractors. Here are a few simple rules to remember if you've been asked to participate in the interviewing process.

  • Understand the position. Sometimes, people interview a candidate and afterward wonder what position the candidate was being interviewed for. This doesn't make sense. You need to understand the position and the skills required for the position if you're going to be an effective interviewer.
  • Understand your role. The interview coordinator should assign different people to focus on different aspects of the interview. For instance, you might be asked to comment on whether the candidate is a good personality fit for the team. You might be asked to perform a technical interview. You might be asked to determine if the candidate has the right business expertise for the project. Each interviewer should understand whether he or she has specific interview expectations.
  • Be prepared. Make sure that you have reviewed the candidate's resume ahead of time. You should jot down some questions that will allow you to gain insight into the person's background and ability, even if your company has a standard interview template that you use as a starting point.
  • Clear your mind. You will be most effective if you go into the interview thinking about the actual interview and the candidate. Don't go into the interview thinking about the program that will not execute, or the production problem you need to fix. While you are in the interview, focus on the discussion at hand.
  • Ask and listen. Have you been to an interview where the interviewer did all the talking? That's not what you're there for. Instead, ask questions and listen to the responses. The first questions you ask should be general and then you should probe down into the details from there.

The overall format of the interview

It's good if multiple members of your team are part of the interview process. In this case, there are two main formats. The first is the "revolving door." You get the candidate in a room and bring in the interviewers one at a time. This method gives everyone a chance to gain an independent opinion of the candidate from different perspectives and using different questions, but it does require a longer time commitment from the candidate.

The second format is the "Spanish Inquisition." You get the interview team in one room with the candidate. This approach lets everyone hear the same story one time and is the most efficient use of the candidate's time. One drawback is that it can be very intimidating. You need to go out of your way to maintain a friendly and casual atmosphere.

Your company is relying on you to help ensure that qualified candidates are hired. This is an important job and should be taken seriously. This increases the value you provide into the interview process and helps your company make good, long-term hires (or good, short-term contractor hires) for the future.

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