Interview Tactics for Smart Hires

welcome to our team

Interviewing new team members can be a daunting task for management. Taking the time to find the right person can be overwhelming. How do you uncover the real humans and who they really are when putting on their best face during an interview? How do you ensure they are right for the job description? Do they really have a good work ethic? These are questions we all have, so I wanted to share some tidbits that might help. Who knows? You may even have fun with it. 

Advertise Well

  • Create unique ads that ask questions and talk about your culture.
  • Place your ads in the right spots. You get what you pay for. There are many platforms to place ads, but what position you’re looking for will determine where they make the most sense—looking for an executive? Glassdoor is probably a good bet. Local job boards make more sense for more hourly jobs. Choose wisely. 
  • When applicants answer ads, go through the responses and email back a list of three to five questions to see if the applicant is organized enough to answer your questions and if they really read the job description. 

Culling the Herd

  • Have them send a resume or fill out an application and send it via email.
  • On your application, create problem-solving scenarios to assess skills.
  • Review this information thoroughly—look for dates, longevity at a job, specific technical skills.
  • Contact references immediately; you would be surprised what you will find.
  • Look on social media and do your investigation. Does this person represent your image at work? 

First Interview

  • Set up the first interview on Zoom.
  • If your candidate passes, set up an in-person interview but give tests before the interview: Hartman, Intelligence Test, Meyers-Briggs, or whatever is best for your company. If there are any red flags, complete the interview but make it short.
  • Have your questions pre-written and conduct the interview. Again, asking scenarios are best in these types of discussions. For example:  give me an example of how you solved problem X. You want to see how this applicant can problem solve and what they have done previously. Talk about your expectations and your company culture. At Plantscapers, we always say, “This job has to be right for us, but also you. This is why we conduct a thorough interview process. We invest in our team and want this to be a good fit for both of us.” 
  • Review the interview with your team. If you want to proceed with the next steps, then set up a shadowing day. 

Time to Prove It

  • Set up a shadowing day where they work alongside their potential supervisor so they can play in the sandbox and see what the job entails. Ask questions while they are shadowing and see how they work. What is their pace? Do they think on their own? Ask good questions? Retain well?  Pay them minimum wage for their time. Check-in with their supervisor as well as the applicant and see how the day went. If it’s positive,  go to the next step. 

Final Interview

  • Set up a Coffee Clutch and final interview.
  • The Coffee Clutch is a casual meeting of a diverse group of team members representing different job duties. It should be short— 30 minutes max. Have some type of refreshment available and snacks. You want to create a welcoming environment where you all share. Each team member shares their name, title, tenure, what they like most about the company and/or their job, and a fun fact. The applicant does the same. 
  • Then ask the applicant to share a little about themselves, ask some fun, trivial questions. 
  • Forewarn the team of HR appropriate questions or things to share in an interview. Remind them they can’t ask about age, the status of marriage, sexual preferences, religion, or politics. Those are the big ones, but there are others. Instead, you can ask, “What do you like to do for fun?” Or “What are your long terms goals?” 
  • Take a break and excuse the applicant. 
  • Talk to your team about each of their perceptions or concerns. Write down some further questions that need to be addressed in the final interview for clarity. 
  • The final interview should be held with an officer of the company or upper management to lend their perspective in this hire. Ask good, thought-out questions and again give scenarios that deal with this particular position. One of the best questions ever is, “Share with us something that has happened in your life that was extremely challenging, and how did you solve/handle it?” This shows their ability to problem solve and think on their feet. 

As the CEO of our company, this is the only question I ask. If they say, “Nothing. Life has been easy,” they are not right for our team. We want someone that has learned from something difficult in their life and become a better person because of it. We need people who have the ability to problem-solve and come with solutions that work! 

  • After the final interview, meet with your interview team and discuss. Again check all references, do background checks if applicable, and make your final decision. 

Welcome to the Team!

  • If hiring the applicant, make that phone call to congratulate them, discuss pay, start date, and then send an offer letter via email with more information. Upon acceptance of the offer letter, start the training process. Be very communicative when hiring a new person. Have written job description so they can refer back to what their duties are at any time and let them know your expectations at the first week, month, 60, 90 days, and then one year. 

Have fun with this and look at it as a new member joining the family. I love to see what my team brings to the table. It’s actually fun, enjoyable, and I always learn something new. Good luck, take your time, and hire right! 

If you’re looking for a position where you can grow in many ways, we’re always looking for good team members. Drop us a line if you’d like to apply!

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1751 McGaw Ave
Irvine, CA 92614
Phone: (949) 486-1495
Toll-Free: 800-PLANT13
Fax: (949) 486-1499



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