So, how does a concept from the field of engineering get itself into the dysfunctional event called INTERVIEWING? Reverse engineering is a detailed examination of an idea or product with the aim of producing something similar. In fact, this method could also apply to the job interview because sometimes, in a job interview, the candidate does not properly understand the question the interviewer has asked, and therefore the answer, of course, would likely not be the best.
THIS WEEK’s Session, Thursday, March 14th…Closing The Deal II: Interviewing tactics in the ‘nine-box matrix’ and POST-Offer negotiation.
The most important element of the job interview is that the candidate clearly and fully understand each question if that candidate’s answers are to meet the interviewer’s expectations.
It’s a sad fact that most of the people who conduct job interviews—namely, those representing employers—have never taken even one structured course about carrying out a thorough and productive interview. And it’s unfortunate that many professional interviewers do a less than satisfactory job at it.
Anatomy of the Interview
The job interview itself is a professional conversation between employers’ representatives and job applicants (EQUAL participants) for the purpose of selecting the applicant who appears to be the best candidate. Of course, interviews vary in many ways based on type of job and on level within an organization. But in all cases there are similarities.
So, what are the criteria that interviewers must satisfy for themselves in order to go ahead and recommend the hiring of an individual? The answer, of course, includes many criteria, which will differ from one interview to the next…and which at times will be influenced by prejudices. In addition, in most cases more than one interview takes place before a final decision is reached. Let’s examine the types of questions asked in a first interview and in a second interview and the intentions behind the questions.
Questions for the first interview
Here the first criterion is communication skills, and a typical question is, Tell me about yourself. On hearing the answer, I’m noticing how the candidate frames that answer. Is it clear and concise? Is the candidate engaging me?
The next criterion is competency. The question could be, Can you give me a specific example of a time you used a (particular) skill and the outcome? Now I’m listening for whether the answer indicates that the candidate is a team player. Does the candidate truly demonstrate well-developed skills in the area of my interest, and what were the main results?
At all companies, cultural fit is extremely important. Several common questions are pertinent to this area. For example, What was the biggest team project or task you’ve undertaken in your career? Then I dig deeper, with specific follow-up questions. I want to learn the size of the project team. Was the objective reached? Who benefited by the outcome? Was the candidate’s answer well communicated? Was it too long? Too short?
The next area to explore is motivation. Here I ask what the candidate knows about our company. By this question, I’m testing whether the candidate has done their ‘homework.’ Is the candidate really interested? Does the candidate know more details about the organization than what’s available on the Web site?
Questions for the second interview
Because the motivation factor is so very important, it’s likely that this criterion will come up in the second interview as well, when other members of the interviewing team look for it. Common questions are:
- Why do you want this job?
- Why did you leave your last position? Were there hidden problems?
- Do you wish to grow professionally? Do you have a clear vision of your professional future?
The next area to look into would be trust of colleagues and customers. A good, probing question would be, Can you cite examples that best demonstrate your ability to relate well to others?
- Have you been invited to contribute to other teams?
- Did your team and other teams celebrate their successes together?
- How about repeat business? Or returning internal or external customers?
People in management are expected to identify and establish goals. I would ask about plans for the first 90 days after hire. Does the candidate know the product or service? Has the candidate given thought to a plan? Is the plan detailed enough?
If at this point the candidate appears promising, I would ask, What kind of money are you looking for? The answer will enable me to decide whether it’s worth continuing the interview if a candidate’s expectations are out of the hiring manager’s salary range budgeted for the position.