Unless you are a recruiter it is unlikely that you get regular practice at interviewing. Interviewing best practice has moved a long way in recent years with so many different styles, processes and assessment tools that can be integrated into a robust structure. And yet, I would imagine that the vast majority of SME businesses still rely on their "gut feel" to make a critical appointment and cross their fingers that it will work out.
A traditional interview focuses on past experience and if a candidate can do the job in hand but it is all based on hearsay and if you believe what the candidate says.
To set yourself up for success you should do 2 things;
1. Cultural Fit
Invest time to really understand what makes your company tick, what culture has been created that allows effective teamwork and ultimately success to happen? What are the cultural threads and values shared by your team? Bring your interviews out of the boardroom and allow team members to interact with shortlisted candidates in a natural way and observe if the dynamics work. A cultural mismatch will 100% lead to a failed appointment no matter how much of a superstar your candidate is.
Assessing cultural fit cannot be done purely by asking a series of interview questions. Think outside the box and definitely use accredited assessment tools by the likes of Hogan or Thomas International to delve into a candidate's soul.
2. Hire for future performance
It is not just about what a candidate has done so far in their career, you need to visualise what they are capable of going forward. What is their stretch? Have they reached their limits or are they able and keen to develop further? Visualise roles that they could do in 3 to 5 years time and assess if they will be able to do them. It is great that they can do a good job for you today but it would be an even better investment if they can kick on and grow with your business.
All in all, interviews, no matter how infrequently or irregular you conduct them, need a lot of planning. They need to include out of the boardroom interactions, accredited psychometric assessments to help guide you and robust referencing.
Recruiting employees is a very expensive exercise if you get it wrong, so please prepare for success.
The problem starts by using laundry lists of skills and competencies to screen candidates and then asking a hodgepodge of supposedly clever questions to confirm the interviewer's initial biased reaction to the candidate. These emotional feelings are then voted on using thumbs with the biggest thumb winning the yes/no decision contest. This rather cynical view is justified if you've ever been involved in these types of ego contests masquerading as judgment. There is a better way.