Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Interview Technique

A few months ago I was involved in an interview process. I met a number of interesting people for a post, all fine in their own ways, and was trying to listen to them in order, with other interviewers, to get a best fit. I had some one-to-one time with each candidate and decided to let them, as far as possible, set the agenda for our conversation. It seemed to me that what they chose to talk about would be illuminating.

In one case we agreed that, knowing little about each other, we would tell our stories. Now, in a 45 minute conversation, there need to be some limits to this. It was therefore interesting, allowing the other person to go first, to see what judgement they would make as to length of story. Ourselves. Once given the opportunity that is probably the topic about which we can speak at greatest length.

I felt this person went on a bit too long but not excessively. It came to my turn and after two or three sentences I was stopped with a, 'Can I just interrupt?' And, having noticed a connection between what I had just said and something not yet stated, I was given a further five minutes. Whilst there were other things that people had spotted to make this person inappropriate for the job, this incident alone was the reason I wasn't enthusiastic.

On another occasion, over a year ago now, one person ruled themselves out of the running for a job with their response to the opening question, 'Did you have a good journey?' I became bored after a minute or so. The reply went on so long I delivered the candidate late to the interview room from which I had come to get them.

If you have an interview soon be in the habit of timing your answers to questions. Know when one sentence is enough and then perhaps say, 'Would you like me to say more?' And try not to interrupt. It will infuriate far more often than it informs. And at an interview, 'How are you today' requires a one sentence answer and preferably one phrase or word.

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