Interviewing can be a very intimidating experience -- for both interviewers and the candidates. By following these helpful hints, one can be more confident in their interviewing skills regardless of which side of the desk they are sitting on.
I - Impressions -- first impressions either over the phone or face to face can be everlasting and if they do not go well, it can ruin the rest of the interview. Be prepared in terms of "dressing the part" and being as energetic as possible. Eat a mint to bring up your energy level and put on your best smile. It can be felt even over the phone.
N - Notice -- pay close attention to the length of time one person speaks. If an interviewer talks for a long time or a candidate gives a very detailed answer that takes more than two minutes, this could be a sign of how they act in other business settings. Ask yourself if you could work with this type of person and how would you need to change your style to interact with them effectively.
T - Time -- pausing between asking questions and/or responding is OK. It would be better to reflect for a brief moment then rushing and regretting it later. If you are taking notes, do not take a long time to write things down but instead jot down key words.
E - Expect -- one can expect nervousness from a candidate but some interviewers get nervous too. Some hiring managers have gone through some interview training but most have not. If not, they may have read a book on interviewing but even that is unlikely.
Candidates should have prepared answers for at least twenty behavioral questions ranging from the routine ones (where do you see yourself in five years?) to the more bizarre (what fruit would you be and why?). The key for both is to practice, practice, practice. A good way to do this is to strike up a conversation with a stranger in the supermarket.
R - Reflect -- spend the time after an interview to really think about how it went. Interviewers should write down additional questions they want to pose in the next round of interviews.
Candidates should review their notes and write an effective thank you note highlighting areas they want to stress or were not addressed during the conversation.
V - Visualize -- a hiring manager needs to really ensure that the person they hire will fit into the culture of the organization. Too many focus solely on the skills and accomplishments of the candidate and fail to explore effectively the personality and past experiences of the individual and see if they are a good fit.
Interviewees need to realize that this is a date that may lead to a marriage but much discussion needs to occur so ask many questions to get a full appreciation of how the company operates and does it fit into your behavioral style.
I - Investigate -- on average a candidate has five interviews (some with the same people) before an offer is extended. If a candidate feels they do not have a full understanding of the organization, it is imperative to request additional meetings with other team members.
For the interviewer, references only go so far and in some cases, they are not allowed. Request to review past projects that the candidate has worked on. Some companies today are also asking interviewees to complete a small assessment of current company operations or devise a marketing plan; it may seem like free consulting for the hiring company but do not be surprised if you are asked to do it.
E - Excel -- An interview is a time to shine and so make the extra effort to put your best foot forward. For the candidate that means not only being prepared with thought provoking questions but also thoroughly research the organization. Do not just read the bio on the hiring manager and other people you are interviewing with. On LinkedIn, try to find other bios even if they are in different departments to get a feeling for how the company operates -- everyone has been there for over 20 years; many attended the same college; many do not have degrees, etc.
The interviewer should not take calls or deal with any other business while the interview is taking place. The interviewer should also not make a candidate wait for more than five minutes; sometimes this cannot be avoided so at least offer the person coffee while they are waiting and explain the situation. Read the resume and other accompanying information before the interview and also create a list of questions to ask the interviewee. After the interview, do not keep candidates hanging by not contacting them quickly about their status.
W - Winning -- an interview is really an exploration for both parties. As a candidate goes through the interview process, they should consider this time as one for self evaluation. Ask yourself critically what makes you happy and what work environment works best for you. Although you may be at a point of desperation in finding new employment, you do not want to go through the search process again in 18 months because you are miserable. Take your time and choose the right organization for you.
Recruiting takes a lot of time and money. It is imperative that hiring managers make the best choices but too often they have many other responsibilities and either make a quick decision or they drag the process out and that turns candidates off to want to join the company. To avoid this, set a timeline for not only when the candidate will be on board but also check-in points to evaluate the search progress highlighting roadblocks.
By following these ideas, success will be better achieved for both the interviewer and candidate. It is imperative that interviewing is a learning process that can be improved by continually exploring oneself and by interacting with as many different people as possible and noticing how they operate in different settings.
Prior to starting Carter Consultants Ltd. in 1991, Beth Carter was a Senior Consultant and Research Director for the executive search practice of Ernst & Young in New York. Her experience includes an Associate role at Ward Howell International, executive search practice at KPMG Peat Marwick, certification Certified Professional Coach, Certified Professional Behavioral Analyst, Certified Professional Resume Writer, an Adjunct Professorship in the Executive Development Center, a membership in the National Alumni Counsel at Bryant University, and additional roles.© 2015 E. Elizabeth Carter
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