When positions open up in janitorial companies, those doing the hiring are faced with many applicants and there's a lot to be considered before making a final hiring decision.

Yet, surprisingly, many managers who are charged with hiring employees try to make the decision quickly, relying on only first impressions from a first interview. In fact, a recent labor survey of building service contractors showed that while 90 percent conduct a first interview, only 42 percent conducted a second, follow-up interview to screen the candidates.

"Some people think that they put everything on the table on the first interview, but I am never that confident," says Gustavo Jaramillo, South Florida regional manager for St. Louis, Mo.-based Mitch Murch's Maintenance Management. "A second interview can weed out the people who aren't really interested, and those who may not be interested in a long-term commitment, and just lets me see if people are who they appear to be."

Conducting second interviews gives one the chance to ask more specific questions and provides better details than what is usually given in a first round.

"With a first interview, it's all about learning their qualifications and background," says Matt McCasline, owner of Aspen, Co.-based Aspen Ridge Janitorial. "In the second interview, I like to put them more into hypothetical situations, so I can see how they would react and think as a member of our team."

Follow-up interviews often allow some important facts to come out that may have been missed on the first go around.

Going Deeper

"Sometimes on the first interview we concentrate more on aspects of experience and what why we need to bring someone to our company," Jaramillo says. "On the second interview, you get more deep into the personal stuff such as what kind of goals that person has."

It's also a good time to ask those questions that you may have forgotten or those that may not have been as important before weeding out those who aren't qualified. Jaramillo estimates a first interview only yields about 30 percent of what should be learned to make a hiring decision.

On a second interview, Jaramillo's company also utilizes a psychological test, which reveals the strength of the applicant and his or her personality.

Chris Fairfield, president of Arkansas Building Services in Little Rock, Ark., has a somewhat different approach when hiring people for the business: the first interview is conducted over the phone.

"You could spend a day interviewing people when they may not be available the hours you need, or want to work in a building by themselves or something else that makes them wrong for the position," Fairfield says.

On that initial phone call, Fairfield will provide an overview of the company, the benefits, pay structure and the responsibilities of the job they are applying for.

"If the applicant is to our liking, we will do a second interview in person, and that's where we will really learn about the applicant," he says.

Companies have different approaches as to who conducts the interview. Some will utilize the same people in both, while others elect to have different people involved to get different perspectives.

"I like to do both interviews so I can make sure that they aren't giving the standard canned answers," McCasline says. "I will put in another principal in the company to get their take for the second one."

Once Fairfield chooses the top two or three candidates to come for a second interview in person, he makes sure that it's designed as a little test right from the get-go.

"If we are interested, we give them a date and time and ask them to come in to the office and we'll want to see if they are prompt and show up on time," he says. "After, once they are in, we can see what type of applicant they are."

Fairfield tries to get a good feel for what type of person he's about to hire. Someone who cleans up well and is articulate makes a great impression.

It's not just those doing the hiring that get something out of a second interview. It can be very beneficial for the job seeker as well.

"The most important thing about a second interview from an applicant's point of view is that it lets them shake off the first interview jitters," McCasline says. "You can read a person the more times you sit in front of them. It lets you look at things from a different angle."

Keith Loria is a freelance writer based in Larchmont, N.Y.