How To Become A Great Interviewer

Understanding how to assess talent is one of the essential requirements of a leader. Leaders who are great at interviewing are great at the critical skill of assessing talent.

Leaders that are great at interviewing are rarely born that way. They become great at interviewing; because they work at it. They recognize the importance of the interview and become committed to mastering the art.

I have been around some great interviewers and have coached leaders who have become great interviewers. Here are some tricks of the trade:

  1. Is the Preparation Stupid

Great interviewers know that preparing for the interview is key to making the right hiring decision. Helpful tips:

    • Fully understand the job: Read the job description completely. Seek out people that have been in that position; paying attention to their experiences and expectations. Find customers of the job and get their take regarding the needs of the position.
  • Research the candidate: Take the time to review the resume of each interview candidate. Do a social media search to uncover blog post, news articles, LinkedIn profiles and other important information.

 

  • Write interview questions: Jack Welch, the legendary CEO of General Electric always wrote 7-10 especially designed interview questions. Attention to detail was crucial in finding the quality of people Welch had on his GE team.
  1. Conduct Conversations Instead of Interviews

Brian Lamb the founder, executive chairman, and now retired CEO of the cable public affairs network C-SPAN, has been recognized as one of the best interviewers on Television.   He describes himself not as an interviewer; but, rather a conversationalist intent on having an informative dialog with his guest.   Along with the afore mention of the importance of preparation, Lamb’s style translates well from the studio to the office. Tips on making your interviews, information filled conversations.

  • Make the candidate shine: Understand that it is your job to provide the best climate possible to get the information needed in the interview. That can only happen when a candidate is relaxed and has trust in you.   At the beginning, layout the vision of your time together; along with the next steps after the interview.
  • Ditch the Desk:  Sure you have a nice desk; but, so did the principal when you got hauled into his office. Remove the symbol of intimidation by finding an informal setting. I often used our company café before or after lunch, it was nicely decorated along with the added bonus of refreshments.

 

  • Lose the Jargon: Our workplaces is filled with an internal language that the outside world does not know or understand. Therefore, unless you are willing to provide an interpreter; craft your questions in plain English.
  1. Don’t Forget The Postgame Show

Now that the interview is over, now comes the real work. Assessing the candidate and making a hire or no hire decision is all a part of what I call the postgame show. Tips for the show:

  • Make no decisions during the interview: Yes. This may seem impossible; as we are tempted to fall in or out of love with the candidate during the interview. However, despite the tendency, stay focused; keep asking the questions with the intent of evaluating when the interview is over.
  • Build in scheduled time of an assessment: I strongly recommend to my clients that they conduct a debrief session right after the interview is completed. Let me extend my sports analogy. Writers want access to players directly after the game is over; while recollections are still keen, and reactions are at their best. No postgame show is complete without a player interview, so include one in yours.

 

 

 

  • Make a decision now: In his bestselling book Blink, author Malcom Gladwell draws on examples from science, advertising, sales, medicine, and popular music to reinforce the idea that accurate decisions can be made without an abundance of information. If you have done all the steps outlined in this post you will have enough information to make a “hire or no hire” decision. Clearly, if the decision is to hire, a background check along with other quantifiers must be successfully completed before a formal offer is made. However, to get to that step a decision must be made. Trust your process and your gut; slay your inner Hamlet and make a decision and make it now.    

A Great Interviewer Is Within You

Preparation, conversation skills, matched with the wiliness to do an assessment that will lead to a decision is all that is needed. However, to become a great interviewer one additional element is needed. Barbara Walters, homed her famed interview skills by “interviewing” the performers at her father’s playhouse. Larry King, became a great interviewer through years of radio shows.   Practice will develop that great interviewer within you. Take on all the interviews you can at your company even if you are not the hiring manager or directly involved with the job. If that is not possible team with a college or a job placement group to conduct “mock” interviews. Regardless of the venue the practice will help produce one of the essential requirements of leadership; the ability to assess talent. Great assessors of talent are great interviewers.

 ©Copyright 2015 Marben Bland │

Marben Bland is a business strategist professional speaker and writer. Specializing in assisting business with the acquisition of human and financial capital along with the strategies required  to do well.

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