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Sweeping Employee Training and Management

Great Expectations – Interview Strategies That Stop Turnover!

If the concept of turnover is all too familiar, you may want to reconsider your interview approach.

by Sherry Hribar, MSOD, CPBA, CPVA
Posted November, 2006

HR Advantage Logo Turnover is that one HR buzz word every company president understands. Have you ever met an executive, manager, or business owner who is not keenly aware of how turnover creates chaos for their company? This single issue sustains the multi billion dollar recruiting and placement industry.

Many times the problem can be traced to events that happened even before the employee was hired. The first disconnect begins when we interview people for what we expect from them rather than uncovering what the candidate expects from the job and the company. After conducting countless exit interviews, it is all too common to hear employees say –"That job was not what I expected." The employee had been hired without anyone learning what they expected in the work environment.

Why do so many interviewers make mistakes in this area? Because most interviews start with the wrong questions. The interviewer begins by asking "What does this candidate bring to our company?" You might consider asking "What motivates this candidate to make a move and what will this candidate need to become the best employee for our company?"

So, how do you uncover this information and hire better candidates? Let's assume that you have read the resume and can clearly see that this candidate has the right experience, degrees, certifications, skills and track record for the position.

The obvious next step is to set up a face-to-face interview. Simple, right? Wrong! I recommend you NEVER do the initial interview in person. You may be wondering how a good selection decision can be made without seeing the candidate. The fact is initial interviews are much more effective without visual impact. Why? Most of us are influenced on a visual level; we have our own biases and make decisions based on physical attributes. In fact, if you think back on your worst hires, perhaps you made a hiring decision based on what you saw or felt and NOT on what you heard. It is too easy to get caught up in appearance – size, height, weight, hair, clothes, etc.

The first interview should take no less than 45 minutes and should be conducted by telephone. A telephone interview forces you to LISTEN – not watch. Forty-five minutes is the least amount of time you will need to determine if the candidate warrants a face to face interview.

Most interviewers approach the first meeting with the concept of "this is what is expected by our company or does this candidate have the right skills to meet our requirements?" The most successful interviewers make it a point to FIRST find out what the candidate expects!

The interview should determine the behaviors, attitudes and motivations each candidate brings to the job. Do not start the conversation with questions that uncover a candidate's specific skills or goals. Do start the interview with "What do YOU need in order to make a job change and What do YOU need in order to consider our company as your next employer?"

Your conversation should explore the details of the job fit with what the candidate expects. What attracted the candidate to this particular job? If the job requires travel – Ask, what amount of travel is acceptable. If the job requires weekend work – Ask, how this fits with their lifestyle?

Within the first five minutes of an interview, ask, "In order to make a change to a new position – what is the range of pay you expect, or what do you believe you deserve at this point in your career?" If you begin to see a series of disconnects between the realities of the job and the expectations of the applicant – it is time to move on. If expectations don't align, save yourself the pain of an interview that is going nowhere or worse, a hire that will be short lived.

Having conducted thousands of interviews, I have found this process to be the MOST EFFECTIVE WAY to start selecting the right candidates:

  • Identify candidates with the right hard skills
  • Determine what the candidate expects from the job
  • Determine if your organization can meet those expectations
  • Conduct initial interviews over the telephone
  • Look for behaviors and attitudes that fit the job
  • ASK direct questions that relate to the candidate's expectations

If your company cannot meet the expectations of the new hire, that new employee will begin to look for their next job shortly, and will be telling the next interviewer –"That job wasn't what I expected."

Sherry Hribar is the President of HR Advantage in Cleveland, Ohio and has 20+ years of experience in the Human Resource and Sales fields. She holds a MS in Organizational Development from Case Western Reserve University and is a Certified Behavioral Analyst. She consults with company owners and managers on employee selection and employee development, coaches individuals in the midst of career change, and trains consultants on best hiring practices. Please visit her website at

Thanks to ongoing info contributor, Greg Smith, from the helm of Chart Your Course International, for alerting us to Hribar's solid article.

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