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The Best Interview is 50% Preparation

Do you feel like you spend too much time interviewing candidates without getting the critical information that you need about their future job performance?

Remember, turnover costs your company 50 – 150% of an employee's annual wages. If you can get even one tip to improve your interviewing effectiveness over the next 3 1/2 minutes of reading, we hope this article will have been worth your time!

...the 25% difference in performance levels between your A and B players is made up almost entirely of interpersonal competencies.

What's In A Good Interview?

The best interviews are 50% preparation and 50% probing.

That means half of what makes a great interview happens before the candidate ever sits down in front of you.

Yup, we know. We can hear you now: “I just don't have time for this! It takes so much time just to interview candidates and now I have to spend more time up-front?”

The Right Fit™ Hiring system was created to address these very concerns: we reduce the time spent on selection by 50% while increasing hiring accuracy by 40 - 70%, depending on what processes you currently have in place. But you don't have to use our services to improve your hiring effectiveness. Read on for quick tips that will help you now.

50% Preparation = 100% Time Savings

Every minute you spend on effective preparation saves you two minutes later in the selection process!

DEFINE YOUR HIRING OBJECTIVE: Clearly define your hiring objective before you begin recruiting. Your hiring objective for a particular position is created by listing and prioritizing the characteristics that are critical to A+ performance. Consider the following three areas when making your list:

  1. Experience, (e.g., Minimum 3 years supervisory experience)
  2. Education/skill (e.g., Commercial Insurance License)
  3. Interpersonal competencies (e.g., initiative, assertiveness, adaptability)

These characteristics become the objective criteria by which you should rank all your candidates for the position.


Most bad hires occur as a result of a mismatch between interpersonal traits and the job requirements. Moreover, the 25% difference in performance levels between your A and B players is made up almost entirely of interpersonal competencies. The good sales person sells; the great salesperson sells where there is no interest. A good cashier runs the register accurately; a great cashier runs the register accurately and makes each customer feel special.


Read resumes with a critical eye and validate information whenever possible. ADP reports that 49% of their reference checks show a “data inconsistency” in education, employment or credentials. Background checks are an inexpensive way to validate general information; knowledge or content questions during the interview can validate skill levels; and calling for references can confirm salary levels.


Remember, the less information you miss in the first interview, the more time you save in the long run. Formulate one or two interview questions for each hiring objective. (We'll talk more about high-impact interview questions next month!)


The next time you're tempted to dive right into candidate interviews without any preparation, ask yourself:

  • Would I go into a presentation without spending at least 20 minutes considering my audience and jotting down key points? Would I spend $75,000 on an asset lease or purchase without spending at least 20 minutes setting my purchase criteria and considering what questions to ask the vendor?

A good hire is an investment that can pay huge dividends or become a costly and time-consuming mistake. Remember, the mind picks up information according to its focus of attention. That's why time spent preparing for an interview can give you the focus you need to spot the best candidate. In hiring as in life, “you can't hit the target if you don't have a target.”

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