How to Interview a Job Candidate


Have you ever hired someone only to be disappointed with their performance? If so, you may have only yourself to blame. Good talent is hard to find these days, which makes it that much more important to weed out the liars during the interview process.

If your dealership doesn’t have a human resources expert on staff, you may be making common hiring mistakes. For example, have you ever had the attitude that as long as a candidate is presentable, why not give them a shot?

The problem with this attitude is that the average cost of turnover per employee is $20,000. Additionally, bad hires can cause problems with employee morale and customer satisfaction. To hire the best talent, create—and follow—an effective interview process. Here’s how.

Create a Job Analysis and Ideal Candidate Profile

The first step in hiring a candidate who will do their job well is to know what is required to adequately perform that role. Create a job analysis for every open position. A job analysis is more detailed than a job description. Answer these questions:

  • Write down all the responsibilities for the open position. Then write down the corresponding knowledge, skills, abilities and experience needed for each of the responsibilities. 
  • What are the personality traits of people who have performed well in this position? 
  • What are the personality traits of people who have not performed well in this position?

Next, define the qualities necessary for a culture fit. If your dealership sells luxury brands and focuses on customer experience, the type of salesperson you want will be quite different than a dealership that brands itself as the low-price leader and focuses on volume.

Once you have a job analysis and an ideal candidate profile for the open position, you can begin interviews.

Don’t Rush

A successful hiring process typically includes an initial phone screening with many candidates, followed by in-person interviews with your top five or six. Then, narrow that pool down to your top two or three candidates and bring them back for second in-person interviews. It’s important not to rush this process. No matter how urgent the need, be patient and fully assess each candidate before making a decision.

Prepare for Each Interview

Don’t wait until five minutes before the interview to look at a candidate’s resume. It’s important to review the resume in advance. Look for inconsistencies and gaps in employment. Create a list of questions for the candidate in advance. If you are sitting with your nose in a resume during an interview, you are missing out on the opportunity to engage with the candidate on a personal level. It’s important to maintain eye contact, look at body language and listen to the candidate’s answers so you can be alerted to signs of lying and other deceptive behavior.

Create a Structured Interview Script

Your ideal candidate profile will tell you what skills and personality traits you are looking for. Be sure to ask questions that prompt the candidate to reveal those traits and skills. Never ask a question that can be answered with a yes or no.

In every interview, ask three types of questions:

  1. Behavioral interview questions focus on how a candidate handled various work situations in the past. An example might be, “Tell me how you have handled a difficult customer,” or “Give an example of how you set a goal and achieved it.” 
  2. Situational interview questions ask candidates how they would handle a specific work situation. An example would be, “What would you do if you caught a fellow co-worker stealing?” or “What would you do if you knew your boss was wrong about something?” 
  3. Culture interview questions ensure that the candidate will be a good fit for your company culture. Examples include, “What did you like or not like about working at your last employer?” “What is your ideal company culture?”

Conduct Pre-Employment Tests

Require your top two or three candidates to take an achiever assessment or other personality assessment. Such assessments are considered to be extremely accurate and are commonly used by large corporations, but there are affordable options for small businesses, too.

Vet Top Candidates

Before you make an offer, take the time to vet the candidate. Don’t believe that what is written on a person’s resume, or what they say during an interview, is an accurate assessment of that person’s abilities, experience or achievements. Check references, verify facts listed on the resume and do a background check.

As you can see, conducting an effective job interview requires some thought and effort. If you take the time to do it right, you will greatly reduce the number of bad hires, along with the associated cost and regret.