Are you a new Kenyan entrepreneur looking to hire your first employee(s). If you have never inteviewed anyone before, it can prove a daunting task. This article is a brief guide on how to interview potential employees.
During the day of the interview, ensure you have set aside a private
room away from any distractions such as telephone calls. There should be
someone to usher the candidates into a waiting area and into the
interview room. Preferably, their documents should be checked and
verified before they enter the interview room to avoid wastage of time.
Once inside the interview room, forget about the old saying not to
judge a book by its cover, first impressions mean everything. Note
carefully how the candidate conducts himself/herself, watching these
three specific areas;
Dressing – How is the candidate dressed? Does he or she
look like he/she is taking the interview seriously? Is the dressing
style professional, businesslike for the industry that you are in? Note
here that the candidate does not need to be dressed in an expensive
manner but a manner acceptable to your industry. For example, the public
does not expect a lawyer to be dressed casually in slacks with no tie.
Dressing will give you a fairly good understanding of the seriousness,
liberalness or conservativeness of the candidate seated in front of you.
Language – How does the candidate greet you once he or
she is inside the interview room? Was the greeting professional? A “niaje!” or “vipi!” salutation is hardly appropriate under most circumstances.
Confidence – Does the candidate exude confidence or is
he/she trembling like a leaf, sweaty hands and all. Confidence in some
professions such as sales, law and customer service is crucial. For the
“nerdier” professions such as IT programming you could overlook this at
the interview stage and focus on the candidate’s technical abilities.
interview should begin with small talk about the weather, local news
and the like to allow the candidate to relax and settle. Gradually move to easy questions like their
academic history and work history. You should then move on to the real meat and ask probing questions to get a clear picture of the
candidate’s strengths and weaknesses. You should specifically ask
questions related to the following areas:
Motivation – Identify what motivates the individual and
whether the individual can motivate others. Sample questions could be, “Describe the working environment in which you are most productive and
content.” and “Describe a work situation where you motivated your co
Team Work – Establish whether the individual is a team
player or a lone ranger. A sample question could be, “Give an example of
a successful project you were part of. What was your role? Why was the
Leadership – Establish if the individual has leadership
skills or potential to lead. A sample question could be, “The
department or unit that you lead needs reorganization, tell me how you
would go about reorganizing”.
Interpersonal Skills – These skills relate to how an
individual is able to relate with co workers including superiors. How do
they build relationships and how do they resolve conflict? An
appropriate sample question could be, “Describe a time when you
disagreed with the actions or decisions of your manager or supervisor.
How did you deal with the situation? Was the situation resolved to your
satisfaction or did nothing change?“.
Management and Supervisory Skill – Establish if the
individual has prior management skills or whether there is potential to
be part of your management in future. For example ask, “One of your
responsibilities will be to provide direction for your section. Describe
how you have done this in the past.”
Communication – How are the candidate’s communication
skills, both written and verbal? What is the candidate’s attitude
towards lower cadre staff? You can actually gauge much of this during
the interview through non-verbal cues.
Planning – Establish the planning skills of the
candidate. You could for example ask, “You have a list of ten urgent
tasks that need to be completed before the end of the day. Describe how
you would go about this.”
Decision Making – In today’s business world, decisions
and the right decisions have to be made swiftly because windows of
opportunity open and close at ‘light speed’. Therefore, the candidate
you settle on must have the requisite experience to enable quick
If you are interviewing for a senior
position in the business and one which will ultimately affect whether
the business succeeds or fails you should end the interview with a
question like, “Why should anyone be led by you?” The quick and adept
thinker, whom is the person you need to hire, will have an answer in
less than a second. Most candidates will respond in a shocked, stunned
silence and then blurt a clumsy answer after a while.
Avoid asking illegal interview questions and illegal interview
practices during the interview to avoid being the subject of a law suit. For example don’t ask questions related to their HIV status because this was outlawed in Kenya a few years ago.
and/or the panel of interviewers should have a standard assessment
format where you record the individual’s score on a scale of 1 – 5 for
each question asked. You may also record the interview on video or audio
for future reference. Invite the highest scoring candidates for a
second and even third interview before finally settling on one