Your team has an open position, and it's vital that you hire someone who not only can fulfill job responsibilities, but will also work well with colleagues.

That's why the interview is so important. Here are tips for making the most of the time you have with the person seeking the job.

1. Envision your ideal candidate.

Start by developing a complete understanding of the responsibilities of the job and the competencies needed to succeed in the position. Review the job description and think about skills, experience, and personal qualities of other employees who have been successful in the position. Likewise, consider the learning from past situations where an employee may not have been successful in the job.

Think about the potential career path for this new hire. Ideally, how will he/she advance through the organization?

2. Get to know the real person.

  • Begin the interview with informal conversation to make the candidate relax and feel comfortable.
  • Let the candidate do most of the talking.
  • Use active listening skills like nodding and restating the response so the candidate feels that you are listening to their answers.
  • Allow time for the candidate to ask questions.

3. Ask the right questions.

The right questions help uncover detailed information about the candidate's experience, skills, attitude, work ethic, and personality. Use behavioral interviewing techniques--asking question to encourage a candidate to describe how he or she behaved/would behave in certain work situations. Also ask candidates to describe specific work experiences that demonstrate the competencies you are looking for.

For example, if the position you are seeking to fill requires strong decision-making skills, you might want to ask candidates this type of question: "Tell me about a time in your career where you were forced to make a decision quickly and felt you didn't have enough information. Explain the situation and the criteria you ultimately used to make the decision."

Here are other essential questions to ask to gain greater insight into the candidate's actions, behaviors, experience and style.

Crucial skills and competencies

  • Was there a time when something needed to be done and you just did it even though it wasn't necessarily part of your job? (This shows whether or not the person takes initiative.)
  • Can you describe a difficult problem you had to solve? How did you go about solving it? (This displays problem-solving abilities.)
  • Would you share a time when you needed to get someone to do something they didn't want to do? How did you handle that situation? (This demonstrates persuasion and/or leadership.)

Expectations and goals

  • Where do you see yourself in two years? Five years?
  • What would we need to do as a company to help you reach your goals?
  • What were your most important considerations in choosing our company?

Cultural fit

You can hire the smartest candidate, but he or she also needs to fit in culturally with your group, department, or company to succeed. If your corporate culture is formal and hierarchical, find out whether the candidate is accustomed to working in that environment. Likewise, if your company has an open and candid culture, find out how receptive the candidate to constructive feedback.