DENVER, June 26, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — The hiring first interview should only be designed to gauge the personality of the candidate and cultural fit into your organization. All a boss needs to determine in this first interview is: Can I work with this person?

That is the interview advice from hiring expert Beth Smith, author of the new book “Why Can’t I Hire Good People?: Lessons on How to Hire Better” (Indie Books International, 2017).

Smith is the founder and president of A-list Interviews. She teaches business leaders, hiring managers and CEOs how to make good hiring decisions. She once made a really bad hiring decision that led to her work as a professional interviewing coach and interviewer. She has interviewed almost 20,000 candidates in her career, and has a 91 percent retention rate for employees after one year.

A firm believer in three interviews before you hire, Smith advises that a first interview should be short and concise, with the goal of revealing how the candidate may respond to stress, management style, adversity, and conflict. The first interview is the same for every position, from entry level to C-level.

“Say it is clear they are not a fit from the get-go,” says Smith. “Grant them 15 minutes, and then move on to people who want the position, who really want to be there. It’s a torturous waste of your time and energy to go through the motions of an hour-long interview with somebody that you could know within a few short minutes is not a fit.”

While there are no magic questions to ask, there are seven recommended in the Smith’s book “Why Can’t I Hire Good People?” for a first interview that can help make a quick assessment for core requirements:

  1. What is your schedule? Include any vacations, possible start date and availability. (If interviewing an out-of-town candidate, also ask about potential relocation plans.)
  2. Tell me about the manager who inspired you.
  3. Tell me about the manager whom you never want to see again.
  4. Tell me about a time that you were overwhelmed and how you handled it.
  5. Tell me about a time when you helped a team member (someone of your equal rank.)
  6. Tell me about a time that you had a conflict with a team member and how you resolved it (equal rank).
  7. What questions do you have for us?

“Your candidates may be surprised that you’re not asking questions related to the responsibilities of the position,” says Smith. “Their reaction is the first observation to make. They are in a situation in which their expectations may differ from reality and they are not in a position of authority to alter that reality. This alone will reveal their personality. Do they seem caught off-guard or confused? Or are they going with the flow, following your lead?”

The first question determines schedule availability. Weed out quickly candidates who cannot take the job due to any logistical reasons. Similarly, some people who do not want to relocate will apply for an out-of-the-area position, sometimes hoping they can telecommute.

“If your company is dead-set on having employees live locally to work on-site or attend in-person staff meetings, you’ll want to nip in the bud a candidate’s conflicting objectives to save time and energy for both of you,” says Smith.

As you continue to ask the additional first interview questions, remember that one of the goals is to determine how a candidate manages stress and conflict. A hiring manager needs to understand behaviors when in conflict with the boss as well as with co-workers. These are distinct types of conflict as the power dynamic in each relationship is different: the boss can fire the employee, whereas coworkers (on equal level) cannot fire each other.

“I also caution business owners to provide limited information to the candidate about the company and the role for which they are applying,” says Smith. “Many times, we want to make the candidate feel more comfortable, so we will over-share about what we are looking for, the position being filled, and even company details. You do not yet know these candidates well enough to share information about the company and the role unless expressly asked by the candidate.”

Bottom line: “Why Can’t I Hire Good People?” reveals there will be time during the second and third interviews to share more about the company, learn more about skills and determine the candidate’s true passion for the position.