The 3 Keys to Conducting Great Interviews

    June 19, 2003

I know a manager named Fred. What a guy. He cares about his Employees, he asks for their input and he interacts with them frequently. Fred is a great manager.

Except in one area. Fred doesn’t know how to interview candidates. And this is pretty scary considering what happens as a result of poor interviewing skills. That’s right – poor interviewing skills equals making poor hiring decisions. And poor hiring decisions equals mega-trouble.

Poor Fred. It’s not his fault he’s a bad interviewer. He’s never been taught how to interview. But no training is no excuse – it’s up to Fred to get some knowledge on his own regarding any job responsibility that he is less than familiar with. So Fred – this article is for you, my friend. Read this and follow my lead – your skills will skyrocket almost immediately!!

Key #1 – Get em talking. Interviewees will always try to put on their best face during an interview, right? They’ll practice and have answers to the standard interview questions such as “What are your strengths and weaknesses.”

So, in order to get to the real scoop about who they are pull out the big guns and get them to crack like a little egg. In this case, the big guns means your face. It means you pretending to agree with everything they say. It’s the old smiling and head nod routine. You ask a question – they answer – you smile and nod. Why? Because this puts them at ease. It makes the interviewer think that they are acing the interview! And the better they feel they’re doing, the more they’ll talk. And the more they talk, the better the chance that you’ll learn something substantive about their skills and personality.

Yes, it’s a bit on the sneaky side. But hey – this is serious business here. Think of what’s at risk by hiring a bad candidate. Trust me – utilizing this technique is extremely effective and WAY worth it!!

Key #2 – Look for the values As you get your candidates to spill their guts, look at what those guts are made of. Is the relaxed candidate revealing potential entitlement issues or is she turning out to sound like a really high quality individual.

Your goal should be to hire employees who have good values. You know – personal integrity, ethics, hard working – that kind of thing. So as you are listening, look for the clues that your candidate is revealing about her personality. You know many job skills can be taught. I’ll always hire an employee who has a strong value system over a more-qualified but less integrous candidate. It’s the personalities and the lack of values that drive employees to wreak workplace havoc.

Key #3 – Use behavior-based interview questions Behavior-based questions force a candidate to supply you with examples of how they behave in certain situations. And behavior is the key.

Go for questions such as “Give me an example of one of the most difficult projects you’ve worked on and describe for me how you managed the process.” Wham-o. No getting out of that one. These type of questions give you much greater insight into what the candidate is really like on the job. And don’t forget, when they answer the questions, smile and nod!! Now go out there and be a STAR!!

Molly Luffy, MBA, owner of Work Ethic Wizard, dedicated to helping managers regain their sanity and employees survive and thrive in todays corporation. Author of Super-Charge Your Promotion Quotient: 225 Success Strategies for the New Professional.