• James Walton

Interviewing 101

For most leaders, interviewing candidates isn't what you're particularly experienced at, or trained to do, or excited about. But it's a critical step in the hiring process, and a these principles will help go a long way to making the process more effective.

Principle #1: Your organization should be a difficult place to get a job at.

The interview process should not be ridiculous, or arbitrary, or nepotistic. Just appropriately difficult. You have a responsibility to the team members already on the inside of the organization to not allow grifters or abusers within your ranks.

The interview process scales in complexity with the demands of the role the candidate is applying for. But at minimum, you need time to determine whether the candidate has:

  • the technical skills to perform the necessary tasks of the role

  • the team skills to integrate well with existing employees

  • the soft skills to interact effectively with customers and colleagues

  • the leadership skills to make what's already being done better

  • the ethical skills to make the right choice in ambiguous and uncertain circumstances

At the heart of the matter are three questions:

  1. Can you do the job?

  2. Do we like you?

  3. Will you land us in jail?

For most roles, this is often done over a series of interviews, each with its own thematic focus.

Principle #2: No hire is better than the wrong hire.

Interviewing is a step in the process that helps you evaluate the character, competencies, and cultural fit of an applicant. Set the bar high, design a process that can effectively identify the characteristics desired (and by extension, those that are not) and don't let the pain of an open position persuade you to compromise your standards.

If you've ever had a manage someone who is the wrong fit, you know this pain. Design the interview process to eliminate candidates who would not be a good fit and if no candidates are able to pass, so be it. Not hiring is better than hiring poorly.

Principle #3: Ask behavioral interview questions.

I've written before on the power of behavioral interviewing questions as a helpful framework for getting the answers you need. People are unlike the stock market, in that past performance is indicative of future results. So the best way to predict how someone will behave in your organization is determining how they behaved somewhere else. Behavioral interview questions get you there.

Interviewing, like most other things, is a learned skill, that with enough evaluated practice, can be mastered.


At Trellis Group, we believe chaos is the enemy of the small business. It's our mission to partner with small business owners and their teams to develop the managerial practices and processes to crush chaos. If you feel overwhelmed and need a proven system to focus on the next best thing, we can help. Companies who work with us see revenues go up, anxiety go down, and work becomes a force multiplier for good in the lives of your people. Reach out to discover how the Trellis Group can help you crush chaos.


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