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Six-Step PEOPLE Process for Effective Interviews

Making the wrong recruitment decisions can be a very expensive mistake for a hiring manager to make, especially in today’s challenging environment. I speak from personal experience on this subject. As a manager, I recruited a great many people and a high percentage of my decisions were wrong.

There is no doubt that hiring the right employees for your team and company is important no matter what kind of work you’re in. However, it can be a daunting task to recruit and keep top talent. Wading through a pile of CVs and browsing profiles is only part of the job. Hiring managers need to have effective strategies in place to help identify candidates who aren’t a good fit.

3 Questions To Ask Yourself Before Making Your Next Hire

Some years ago my Advance Consultancy colleague and friend Norman Kerfoot taught me a valuable lesson in respect to recruiting people. He told me that there are only three main questions you need to be able to answer:

  1. Can this person do the job that we are recruiting for? This question addresses issues such as qualifications, skills and experience
  2. Even if they can do the job, will they do it if we select them? This question addresses their attitude and motivation
  3. Even if they can do the job and will do the job, will they fit into the team? This question addresses the cultural alignment of the individual

In the spirit of openness and honesty, I rarely got past the first one of those three in my interview!

OK, so let’s say that we like an individual’s CV/application form and have decided to take an individual’s application forward to the interview stage. By the way, please remember that you should never lie on your own CV. I say this for two reasons. Firstly, you will almost certainly get caught out. Secondly, in my experience, I have found it creases it.

DISC Personality Testing

I have come to believe that effective interviewing is part science, part art. I would always recommend that you consider getting the candidate to complete a DISC profile. Now, let me be clear here. Please don’t base your decision solely on a profile of this kind, but it sure gives you some great insights into the person who will be sitting with you.

Six-Step PEOPLE process for Effective Interviews

So, it’s time to interview them. Let’s face it, this is an experience that strikes fear into the heart of many folks. Years ago I learnt about the six-step PEOPLE process to help make the interview more effective for all concerned. The six steps are:


This is a key stage. It is where you create an identikit of the ideal candidate. It’s also where you make sure that you know all about the candidate that you are interviewing. It includes reviewing the CV, application form and – if they have completed one – their DISC profile (or any other assessment tool). It is a critical step. Do not wing an interview – ever!!!

Establish rapport.

Please note that this is not just about asking if they had a good journey. We could give the entire Weekly Tip to rapport, which I might do in the next week or so because it is such a big subject. Suffice for now to say that building rapport is done through the process of matching and mirroring their words, their tonality and their physiology. This should be done very subtly and off the candidate’s radar. If they become aware that you are trying to match and mirror them, it will probably be considered mimicking; and that will surely damage any rapport that exists between you. My great friend and mentor, Colin Hooker, had a great way of building rapport and putting candidates at their ease. He used to say, “Look, before we start the interview, let’s go get a coffee and you can tell me a little bit about you.” Obviously the interview never actually ‘started’.

Obtain information.

This stage is where you ask them questions about them, their experience, their skills, their aspirations etc. I’m going to be a bit controversial here and say that I think most people suck at asking questions. They either ask trite questions or try to be really clever and, in so doing, ask meaningless questions. So, I would always recommend using behavioural based interview questions that are difficult to rehearse answers to. Yes folks, people actually do rehearse their answers you know!!

For example, aside from the skills required to do the job, what other skills do they have? Are they great problem solvers, do they know how to navigate through a problem and know where to look for the answer? In this case, the candidate’s answers will indicate that they don’t need constant guidance and hand-holding and will be able to take direction and make successful decisions. Their social skills are also an important factor in their overall growth and potential within the company. Do they work well with others? Do they try and achieve more of what’s asked of them? Do they have any type of leadership skills that’ll advance their position?

I would also recommend that you consider using this step to ask the candidate questions to identify their meta-program profile. If you have never heard of this, it is an NLP based strategy. The basic questions are:

  • What’s important to you about a job? Their answer will tell you a lot about their values and what motivates them. For each answer they give you, you can then ask them why that is important. So, if they say money as their first answer you ask them why that is important to them.
  • What is the relationship between what you are doing now at work and what you were doing at work this time last year? The chances are that they will give you an answer that is a similarity or a difference. So, they might say, “It’s the same role” or they might say, “I’m in a different department now”. Their answer will give you an insight into their similarity/difference focus. People with a high focus on similarity tend to stay around for a while.
  • Why did you choose your current job? This question will tease out whether they focus on options or processes. If they say something like, “It gave me the chance to meet clients” they are perhaps options based. If they say, “Well, I saw the job advertised and so I sent off my CV”, they have just told you how they chose the job, not why. This can be an indication of a person with a process focus.
  • How do you know when you have done a good job? Their answer will give an indication of whether they are externally or internally referenced. Some folk will say, “I just know”. This is an internally referenced answer. Others might say, “I need feedback from my manager/clients”. This is an indication of external referencing. Please note that as a manager you might need to give more feedback to an externally referenced person.

If you would like more information about using meta-program questions in interviews (they are really useful by the way), please contact me and I’d be happy to answer any questions you might have.

Provide information.

This is where you offer the candidate a chance to ask any questions that they may have of you. For example, this might be about the role itself, the company or opportunities that might be available in the future. Please note that I am not saying that you should not allow them to ask any questions before they reach this stage in the interview process!

Lead to a close.

This is where you begin to close the interview with information obtained and provided. Remember to offer them a final opportunity to ask any questions. In this step you might also want to explain the next stages of the selection process; for example, when they might expect to hear from you.


This final step is where you assess the candidate against the criteria you are looking for in the ideal candidate.

So, there you have it, I believe that the PEOPLE process provides a great framework for ensuring that your interviewing process is effective and reduces the risk of poor recruitment and selection decisions like the ones that I used to make.

If you would like to know more about the process, please do contact me.

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