Hiring Wisdom: Using a Performance Review Form in a Structured Interview

I’ve been in the trenches long enough (with many of you, actually) to know there are so many issues demanding your immediate attention every day that carefully planning and preparing for every applicant interview is next to impossible.

Those of you who squeeze interviews into your already overscheduled days often have no choice but to “wing it” and rely on your gut instincts to assess an applicant’s potential. Trouble is, this approach is only marginally more successful than if you had just flipped a coin.

According to best practice research, the most effective way to conduct interviews is to develop a standardized question set and write yourself a script (a Structured Interview). The bad news is: Few of us have the luxury of the time it takes to do this.

Hiring to Performance Review standards

The good news is: If you have a Performance Review form, you already have a Structured Interview form! And, since everyone who gets hired will be evaluated against the standards on your Performance Review, why not hire to these standards in the first place?

If you are interviewing someone with work experience, I would first ask if this person’s last employer gave them a Performance Review.

If they did, ask what factors were evaluated and how the applicant scored in each area. Ask if the applicant agreed with the ratings and why or why not? Ask what the person’s former supervisor will tell you when you call to check. Ask if they will provide a copy of that review.

For any important measures on your Performance Review that weren’t considered by the former employer, ask things like: “On a scale of 1 – 10, how would you rank yourself when it comes to meeting goals and objectives? Why did you give yourself that ranking? Can you give me a couple of examples? What would it take for you to be able to give yourself a higher ranking? How will your former supervisor rank you?”

Just do it

Are your employees evaluated for punctuality? Then ask every applicant: “How many times were you late for work (or school) in the last six months and why?” After they answer, ask: “When I call your employer (or school), what will they tell me?”

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If teamwork is important, say: “Tell me about the last time you worked on a team. What was your role and how did you contribute to the team’s success?” After they answer, ask: “Were there any difficulties and how did you and the team overcome them?”

If safety is a performance appraisal measure, ask those who haven’t worked before: “How often do you wear your seat belt.” (If it’s not 100 percent of the time, ask why.) If they have worked before, ask: “Were there any safety rules at your last employer that you didn’t agree with and why?”

You get the idea. Now, as Nike says, “Just do it,” because no one ever regrets hiring the best.

Mel Kleiman will tell you how Great HR is Simple — It’s Just Not Easy at the TLNT Transform conference in Austin, TX Feb. 26-28, 2012. Click here for more information on attending this event. 

This was originally published in Mel Kleiman’s February 2012 Hiring Hints newsletter.

Mel Kleiman, CSP, is an internationally-known authority on recruiting, selecting, and hiring hourly employees. He has been the president of Humetrics since 1976 and has over 30 years of practical experience, research, consulting and professional speaking work to his credit. Contact him at mkleiman@humetrics.com.