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Interviewing: You Need to Be Prepared Too

Avatar photo by Casey Woods, Executive Director | September 20, 2016
Well first things first. For those of you that don’t know me, my name is Jess Buchholz and I am the “new” Community Development Director at Emporia Main Street. My husband and I, along with our two kiddos and obnoxious dog Gunner, have enjoyed living in Emporia for the past several years. Originally from Cottonwood Falls, I moved to Emporia when I started college at Emporia State. After pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Business with a major in Marketing, I continued my educational career at Emporia State by earning my MBA. After graduation, I spent a few years in Colorado before relocating back to Emporia and I have been having a blast ever since.
So, it sounds like you will be hearing from me once a month in the weekly newsletters. When Casey first asked me to write an article, I really spent some time thinking about what I wanted to write. There are several initiatives that are happening in the office right now, but one that I am really excited about is our partnership with the School of Business and Career Services at Emporia State. This semester, we are working with these two entities to create and place business students into local internships. As I move through this process, I have been reminded of the importance of conducting interviews, being prepared for them and doing my due diligence in screening candidates! With college back in session and part time help being needed here are some tips on how you can better prepare yourself for those situations.
Do your homework! We expect the interview candidate to research about our place of business-so shouldn’t we research the candidate? Here are a few things to think about;
1.  Read the resume BEFORE you meet with them. Don’t try and learn about the candidate during the first few minutes of the interview. Reading their resume allows you to put together specific questions based on their education and experiences.
2.Check references (if provided). You would be surprised how many people do not tell the person they are listing for a reference. If you call a listed reference and they seem caught off guard, surprised, or at a loss for words it is probably a RED flag.
3. And if the first two steps aren’t enough- to the Google!! That’s right plug their name into the search engine and see what comes up. If you find yourself staring at a picture of your underage applicant doing a keg stand at a weekend house party you might want to think twice about bringing them on as an ambassador for your business.
Having an appropriate setting is also important when conducting an interview.  Your interview deserves to be the center of your attention. Don’t try to do the interview and answer the phone or ring someone up at the register. If your place of business doesn’t offer this type of setting, head to a local coffee shop (we have two great ones by the way) to meet with your candidate. This also gives you the chance to see how they interact in a different setting. Do they make eye contact when ordering? Do they say thank you? This might be a good indication on how they are with customer service!
Finally, as you select your candidate make sure to end the interview process on a high note. I would advise in contacting your first choice candidate before sending regrets to others. This way if your top choice declines or has accepted another offer you can move down the list of acceptable hires. Once you have landed the new employee make sure to notify all that applied. Remember that the applicants you didn’t select are customers (or potential customers) and you want them to have a positive experience with you place of business.
If you or your business needs additional information on hiring or interviewing techniques, please contact the Emporia Main Street office. We would gladly assist you with your request!
Happy Hiring!

About the Author

Casey Woods, Executive Director

Before accepting the director position in March of 2009, Casey worked in both retail and agricultural jobs in the family businesses. A lifelong resident of the Emporia Area, Casey was a ten year volunteer for Emporia Main Street prior to his appointment as director. During that time he served as the board president and chair of the Economic Vitality Committee.

Casey also serves as a partner in PlaceMakers, LLC, a consulting firm that routinely works with both large and small communities, and their businesses, to promote sustainable economic growth through community and economic development practices. Casey consults with businesses, organizations and communities to understand their market capacity and fill vacant spaces. He has been involved in two projects that included crowdfunding as a part of their overall business funding strategies, Radius Brewing and Twin Rivers Winery & Gourmet Shoppe.