Nervous. Hopeful. Insecure. Cocky. Anxious. These are all potential feelings when walking through those doors for your face-to-face interview. Someone is going to grill you on your own life and you’re unsure of how this is going to go. Your own life? Wait a second who knows your own life better than you? And yet, here we are… not really confident about how to interview or the opposite – too confident and prideful to think you might need a few pointers.
In a blog by Gayle Pazerski, Interview Like a Kid, Hire Like a Grown-Up on The Resumator blog, I found myself filing through my recruiting brain for applicable stories for this idea. Gayle mentions 4 ways to achieve this mind sent. I’ve divided them up into two categories – Tips for the Interviewer and Tips for the Interviewee.
It’s important to note that yes, the potential candidate has to do a good or maybe even immaculate job of impressing the potential employer but, if the interviewer is not equipped with the necessary tools? It’s almost useless to even have a conversation. For example, what you really want is someone who knows how to mentor, yet you’re asking questions about how many direct reports they have and stopping there. The number of direct reports has no influence on their ability to mentor, ask questions involving examples of how they aided in progressing junior talent, what tactics they use to do so. Get your mind ready, here’s my interpretation:
For the Interviewer:
Always ask Why? – This may seem simple but, if an answer doesn’t seem to stand by itself, ask why? It also clarifies answers if too vague. If you ask a candidate, “Why are you leaving your current employer?” They may say there’s no room for advancement. Seems like a good enough answer right? But, think about what you might learn if you just ask why there isn’t room? They might tell you there are 6 other people at their level and only one position to be promoted into. And even this role that 7 people are fighting houses a person who just started, so it’s unlikely there will even be a chance to interview for it. See the difference? If you’re interviewing someone, you need to get the root of the candidate’s answers. Asking why never hurt anyone.
Don’t sugar coat your business. – This is the ultimate white lie. But, how do you go about telling a potential great candidate for your organization, that everything isn’t so wonderful. Why does it even matter? If an individual is going to be successful in a role, they have to come in with the appropriate expectation. For example, if the candidate is going to be working with a difficult client on a daily basis – you need to make sure they can handle this while making sure you don’t scare them off. Instead of just saying, “Well we have difficult clients, are you ok with that?” Think about having the candidate describe an example for you. Maybe try, “Can you describe a time when you’ve had a disagreement with a client and discuss how you solved the issue?” This question now will provide you with evidence of the how the candidate dealt with the obstacle and also infers there was problem-solving involved. If they can’t answer the question, maybe they aren’t right for your position.
For the Interviewee:
Play Show and Tell – As referenced above, it is always good for the interviewer to ask you for examples. But, you may not always be so lucky. Your interviewer may not understand how to ask questions appropriately. They may not have had any training at all for that matter. A good way to prepare for the interview is to make sure that you have examples prepared. It’s very easy to say “Yes, I can do X,Y, and Z.” Just to check the box. But, if you can describe when and how you completed X, Y, and Z? That then gives the potential employer a story to think back on. Simply saying yes just means you can answer a question, not that you can do the job.
Lose Your Attention Span – While interviewers may be guilty of talking too much, the candidate needs to be more conscious of their answers. If you ramble, it means you’re trying to give them the run around and don’t really want to answer their question or that you’re not capable of presenting a clear thought. Either way, you must always know how much time you have with an interviewer. If it’s only 30 minutes? Know that you’re on a time constraint and it’s imperative that you make sure they get all of their questions answered. If you have an hour? Great, but still know that presenting a clear and concise thought is key to winning over an interviewer. If you feel like you haven’t answered the question, don’t just continue yapping away assuming the interviewer doesn’t get it. Ask them, “Have I answered your question?” This way the interviewer will then prompt you if further description is needed or not.
These tactics seem pretty simple but, there are guilty parties each day that don’t pay attention to these small details. It will not only make for a more efficient interviewing process but, you’ll also find that it will be more informative and allow you to find the “right fit.” Which is what everyone in the game wants right?