October 11, 2011

Our Secret to a Great Clerical Interview

All interviewers have their own style, techniques and list of preferred questions to get the required results – hiring the right candidate. Staffing service personnel conduct interviews on a daily basis, consistently making the effort to match an applicant’s personality and skills with our client’s cultures and job positions. Tom Miller, Director of Staffing & Recruiting Services was recently asked to share our “secret” to a successful interview. Here’s his answer with six must ask questions.

Know the definition an interview.

It is an exchange of information to make a decision.  Both parties need to get enough knowledge to make an honest decision. You want the person to give you what they have done, not what they would do.  Draw from their history and be patient. Pauses of silence are okay. Let the person think before they respond. There are NO right or wrong answers, just experiential responses.

Describe your most productive office work setting.

Where was it, who worked with you, what was the focus of the company, what was your focus?

Listen for excitement, note what they didn’t like, how does it compare with the setting you are offering?

Tell me about your computer skills.

What software did you use, how did you use it or what end product did you have?
How would you rate your skill?  Use 1 to 4 scale with 1 being highest.  Doing this makes the person define good (1-2) or developing (3-4) as a result.
List each software by name that you require and wait for the response.

Listen for comparison of how they used it and how they rate themselves. How do the answers fit? Are they comfortable with the software you use? 

When you have a challenge/problem at work, how do you resolve it?

You may need to identify what kind of “challenge/problem” is most common in your work setting and use an example.

Listen for problem solving skills. Do they “fit” with how things could/should be done in your environment? The answers WILL vary by "challenge” as defined by you. 

We give performance reviews on a (fill in the blank) basis.  How do you handle it if you get grades you feel you don’t deserve?

Listen for personality reaction. Beware of “That’s never happened before” as a response. Is there a method of gaining consensus in the aftermath or is there a movement to prove the reviewer wrong? 

Your last employer was (fill in the blank) and your position was (fill in the blank). If you could go back as a supervisor/manager, what would you change?

Listen for team building, nurturing, and positive feedback comments. Beware of answers like “nothing” or spiteful and derogatory comments. 

Now that I have done all the talking, what questions do you have for me?

Listen to the quality of the questions. Is there a true interest in the company, position or the management? Has the interviewee become “comfortable”? 


Tom Miller, Director Staffing & Recruiting Services has over 30 years human resource, management and recruiting experience.

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