Don’t Wing It: Q&A Tips and Techniques for Interviewing

Despite what some HR professionals would have you believe, there is not one correct method of interviewing potential job candidates. Everyone has their own methods that work for them, especially in the powersports industry! I’m a big fan of taking bits and pieces of different styles of interviewing and making them your own.

I remember a time where I would conduct a standard “no frills, no thrills” interview, but at the end of the interview, there was one more thing. I would ask the candidate to go to the bathroom, where I had staged a dirty sink and a splashed mirror. The candidates were asked if they would please clean the bathroom sink. There was a bucket under the sink, along with paper towels, Windex, a sponge, Clorox soft scrub and toilet cleaner.

After they left the building, I would inspect the bathroom. All the candidates cleaned the sink; a few cleaned the sink and the splashed mirror, and one candidate even cleaned the sink, the mirror, the toilet and the floor! You would think the guy who cleaned everything went above and beyond the call of duty, but it could also be construed as he didn’t follow directions… but this was for me to decide.

During the past 20 years I have picked up better and definitely more effective interviewing techniques. Use these tips to come up with your own unique way to help you interview and hire the right candidate for the job.

Ask The Right Questions
Open-ended questions are always more effective than simple yes or no questions in the interview process. Ask job-specific questions that they will encounter in that specific role. If you’re hiring for sales, ask sales-specific questions. If you’re hiring a mechanic, ask them technical questions… any wrench-spinner worth his salt should be able to answer something about the process before they start tearing into a customer’s bike!

One open-ended interview question I like is pretty basic, but it speaks volumes! “Tell me about a time when you had an unhappy customer and what you did to turn them around?” Job applicants have to provide you with one or more challenges that they faced and the specific steps they took to solve them. It will be clear to you if they fudge their answer and if their experience is genuine.

Don’t Rely On Close-Ended Interview Questions
“Do you consider yourself to be a leader?’’ is a prime example of what not to ask! This question lets candidates off the hook by allowing them to give a one-word (or at least very limited) answers. You have learned nothing about them or their true level of leadership skills. Instead, try role playing.

Role Playing
This is one of my favorite techniques. I started implementing this about two years ago and it has really helped me to hire the right candidates. Take real life job scenarios and apply them to the interview process. For example in a dealership hiring for the parts department, tell the candidate to act as the employee and you are the customer. Fill him in on pertinent information, such as the dealership’s policy is “We DON’T match online tire pricing.”

Then act as the customer, walk up to him with your cell phone and say, “I’m looking for this rear tire for my bike and you guys have it on the rack for $20 more than online, will you match this price?” Show him the picture/price of the tire on the phone and sit back and listen to his response.

Will it just be a simple “I can’t match it” – or will he get creative and sell you on why you spend the extra $20 to buy it from him? Will he cut you a deal on mounting and balancing for tires bought in your store?

Write It Down!
Again real life scenarios can be applied to any position, you just need to take the time to write them out and be prepared for the interview. That’s right, you need to be as prepared as the job applicant for the interview… maybe more so! After all, it is you who will have to pay for the problems related to the wrong hire.

Before your next interview with any potential candidate, ask the service department head or sales manager how they would conduct an interview. Take an hour or two to read up on the Internet. Take your time and write down all your open-ended and role playing questions on paper. Consider taking another manager with you for a team interview. Also, always write down the candidates’ answers. They might have some good ideas and you will want to review all the of candidates before bringing the finalists in for a second interview.

Bottom Line:
Don’t wing it!

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