The Interview (I)

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So you’ve sent out job descriptions, reviewed tons of resumes, and even completed a few phone interviews, now it’s time for a face-to-face interview. Interviews are the classic way for hiring managers to meet with candidates and get to know their skills and qualifications. They allow for an employer and applicant to meet in person and discuss the position in depth.

Introduce Everyone

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When starting an interview, it is important to ensure everyone knows each other. If the interview is done one-on-one, the interviewer and candidate exchange names and usually shake hands. Some interviews are done in groups or with a panel of interviewers, so candidates should be introduced to each person involved and make sure their information is available to them. Introductions will make everyone feel more comfortable, so nerves can be put at ease. It’s best to open with a bit of small talk and ‘natural’ talk, which can make the candidate feel more casual while staying professional. Start by telling the candidate a little bit about yourself (although nothing too personal) and wait for a reply from the candidate. Then lead into the interview by discussing your position, the position you are hiring for and what you are overall looking for.

Use a Panel

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Many interviewers decide to use a panel when interviewing for open positions. Interview panels generally consist of a lead interviewer with two to three secondary interviewers. A panel with any more people than that can become too confusing and can make your candidate feel overwhelmed or intimidated. These panels allow you to have a chance to write down any notes after asking the candidate a question. While you are writing, another panelist can ask another question and keep the interview going. This not only allows for you to not be the only person asking constant questions, but gives a different perspective with questions you may not have thought of yourself. At the end of the interview, ask each panelist to rate the applicant and compare notes about their responses. Are the responses similar around the board? Do they differ?  A panel interview not only saves time for the interviewer, but it gives a chance for more employees to meet the potential employee at once, which can have a bigger impact on choosing a candidate.

Match the Interview to the Job

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Many typical interviews take place in a small office, where the interviewer takes the applicant aside, asks several questions and then the applicant leaves without knowing much more about the job. A better tactic for an interview is to match it to the job that the applicant is coming in for. If possible, bring the environment to the interview, such as taking a tour through the facility while talking or holding the interview in the actual office or work area of the position. When the applicant arrives, monitor how they have dressed and if it matches the position. Many applicants know to dress nice for the interview, but do they appear over or underdressed? Is their attire fitting for the company? Applicants know what kind of job they are coming in for, so try to make the interview match the position and let the candidate see into it further.

Types of Questions

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There are a variety of types of questions to ask during an interview. The type of question depends on what type of information you want to gain from the applicant. There are questions meant to address personal attributes, questions about abilities and even questions about behavioral qualities. Open-ended questions offer in-depth answers while hypothetical questions can help show the applicant’s critical thinking skills. Stress interview questions are questions that are designed to determine how a person reacts under stress or increased pressure and usually involve rapid fire questions with an expectation of a quick response.  While they offer different sources of information, remember that they can be facts or opinions and should not be taken personally or at face value. Remember that certain questions cannot be asked in an interview, including questions related to age, marital status, religion, or even sexual preferences. These types of questions impose too much bias and are extremely personal, so they should never be asked to an applicant.

The S.T.A.R. method is a way to ask and answer questions based on the candidate’s resume. It normally asks for concise details about their previous work experience and outlines exactly what they did in their previous jobs and duties.

S.T.A.R. Method example:

  • Situation – What is a situation you faced in your previous job?
  • Task – What tasks were involved in that experience?
  • Action – What actions did you take?
  • Result – What were the results of those actions?

Case Study

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Gerald and Henry were preparing for their first interview for an open position in their banking department. They liked to interview together as a small panel so that they could have different views on the candidate and compare observations later. When the applicant arrived, they noted she was nicely dressed and looked as though she were already dressed for the position. They introduced each other and led her to the banking department and briefly showed her around before settling at a desk in the corner. Gerald and Henry took turns asking questions and took notes about her answers. They asked several types of answers and really got her to open up about her past work experiences and skills. By the end of the interview, they were very pleased with their choice and told her they would call her in a few days for a follow up visit.