Search “job interviews” in Google and you will find that most of the publications that appear in your results are focused on the applicant, providing them with tips, tricks, and techniques on how to “win” the interview. Very little has been written to help managers learn how to conduct outstanding interviews and select the best qualified candidate. Until now.
How important is this topic? My research shows that only about 10% of managers have received formal training in how to conduct an interview. Sure, HR departments provide lots of training on the subject but most of that content is geared toward compliance issues—which questions you can and cannot ask. So how do untrained managers approach one of their most important decisions—who to bring into the team and who to let their competitors hire? The simple answer is that they do the best they can, creating their own interviewing methods and style by picking and choosing from their past experiences from both sides of the interviewing desk. Most hiring managers fall into one of the following four categories.
The Traditionalists ask the same question you have probably asked (or answered) yourself.
· “Tell me a little bit about yourself.”
· “What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?”
· “Where do you see yourself in five years?”
And so on. Not that these are “bad” questions but they could be better.
The Tracker seems content to follow the applicant’s resume, lock step, through the process.
· “So you started with Ajax. Tell me about that.”
· “So then you move to ACME. What was that like?”
· “And finally you ended up at MegaCom. I hear they are pretty progressive.”
Making certain that you feel positive about an applicant’s work history is important but Trackers rarely gather enough data to make good hiring decisions.
The Talker is a tough interview. Just about the time you feel like you , as an applicant, are getting into your stride and rhythm, talking about what a great asset you would be, the Talker interrupts and says something like, “Let me tell you a little bit about our company.” Fifteen minutes later you find yourself out the door with no real sense of what just happened. Or didn’t happen.
The Trickster sees the interview as a battle of wits. The applicant attempts to hide all their dark and sinister past while the Trickster applies psychological pressure and clever questioning to de-cloak the imposter, exposing the truth. Tricksters are easy to identify as they always talk about a few “special questions they like to ask to trip people up.” I know one Trickster who boasted that he once made an applicant cry. Interviews do not have to be interrogations to be effective. The most interesting Trickster question I have ever heard was, “If you were a tree, what would you be?” I enjoyed that question so much that I used it the title of my latest book, “If You Were a Tree, What Would You Be? And Other Useless Interview Questions.—A Manager’s Guide to EPIC Interviewing.”
If you are a new supervisor looking for a process map for hiring or an experienced veteran who has never quite felt confident in your ability to interview and hire people, then the EPIC Interviewing process can help.
Stay tuned for more information and excerpts or pick up a copy of the book on Amazon/Kindle by clicking here.
Thanks and happy hiring!