Tag Archives: Job interview

11 traits of the best interviewer ever

Best InterviewerAs I read articles on the five traits employers look for in the ideal job candidate and others like it, I think about what traits the  ideal  interviewer would demonstrate in the hiring process.

Job candidates are responsible for showing they’re the most qualified person, but who’s to say interviewer/s shouldn’t be accountable for hiring the most qualified person for the job?

According to an article from CareerBuilder.com, a whopping 69% of employers say they’ve hired people who aren’t qualified to do the job or aren’t a fit. Furthermore, employers are losing humongous sums of money because of their poor hiring decisions, as much as $25,000-$50,000 per bad hire.

I don’t know about you, but this doesn’t bode well for employers’ hiring strategies and, more specifically, how they interview and choose their candidates.

Interviewing people for a position isn’t the easiest thing to do, nor is it the most pleasurable part of a job according to most hiring managers I’ve asked. I didn’t particularly like it myself, but it was a necessity. Who is the best interviewer ever? He or she has the following 11 traits:

  1. She’s prepared from the beginning. The success of an interview depends a great deal on whether the best interviewer ever has taken the time to prepare for the big event. This means identifying the skills and experience she seeks in the candidates, as well as recognizing the weaknesses she wants to avoid. She prepares answers in advanced and doesn’t rush around asking people in the office what interview questions she should ask five minutes prior to the interview.
  2. Doesn’t care that the candidates are nervous. Some jobseekers don’t interview well, but that doesn’t mean they can’t excel at the duties of the job. It’s a totally different matter if they’re not prepared for the interview or commit all of the faux pas described in the hundreds of published books and online articles. The best interviewer ever will overlook such poor first impressions.
  3. Puts the candidates at ease. Related to the previous trait, the best interviewer ever will try to bring out the best in the candidates by making them comfortable, trying to reduce the stress level. A great opening statement might be, “I’d like you to relax and consider this a conversation. I’m interested in getting to know you so I can make a good judgement about your skills and experience.” This certainly will bring out the best in the candidates.
  4. Asks the candidates relevant questions. These would include questions that were well thought out, not ones that the interviewer read from a book, or questions that were devised three years ago by Human Resources that meet the requirements for previous HMs. The best interviewer ever does her due diligence before the interviews begin by meeting with the HM to determine his needs and wants.
  5. Asks tough questions that get to the core of the candidates. Most employers would agree that besides the questions that determine someone’s technical abilities, behavioral-based are the best at predicting how the candidates will perform in the future, based on past behaviors and their motivation to overcome obstacles. Related to #2, the best interviewer ever knows these questions will stress candidates more than more traditional questions, so will be less concerned about performance.
  6. Interviews candidates for a job that exists. Oh sure, there’s a need for someone to fill a position in the company; but the company plans to go with an inside candidate and is holding the interview for appearance sake. This is a waste of time for everyone involved and a letdown for expectant candidates. This is plain wrong and may not be on the head of the best interviewer ever.
  7. Interviews candidates for the correct position. The best interviewer ever doesn’t interview candidates for a position that has different requirements than advertised in the job posting. Many of my customers have told me they prepared for the ideal job only to find out the requirements were beyond their reach, making them obviously unfit for the position. A big waste of time.
  8.  Doesn’t ask illegal questions. “How old are you?” one of my customers was asked during a phone interview. Other illegal questions include: what country are you from? Do you have any children? Are you taking medication? The best interviewer ever will refrain from asking questions about race, color, sex, religion, national origin, birthplace, age, disability, and marital/family status, etc. The best interviewer ever knows better.
  9. He doesn’t make a decision based on appearance. I once worked for someone who hired very young, attractive women; and the running joke was that he was a “dirty old man.” This makes one wonder if many qualified people were passed over because they didn’t meet his appearance standards. The best interviewer ever will disregard appearance and focus on technical and personality fit, ultimately hiring people who are right for the job, not better suited for modeling.
  10. She provides feedback if a rejected candidate asks. This is a tough one because a few candidates might cry foul or press the best interviewer ever for more details. However, many of my jobseekers simply want to know how they can do better at the next interview, nothing more. I applaud an interviewer who will provide critique on how a candidate answered certain questions, what skills they lacked, or if they wouldn’t be a personality fit for the company (there is such thing).

As mentioned earlier, making great hiring decisions is not as easy as people would think, ergo the 69% of hiring managers who make wrong hiring decisions at one point or more in their career. But if said interviewers consider their goal of hiring the best candidate, they must think not only of themselves but rather consider how best to get the necessary information from the people they’re considering hiring.

Oh, lastly, 11. He sends a rejection letter. A little bit of courtesy will go a long way.

Photo: xianrendujia, Flickr

Just answer the Interviews questions: 6 ways to do it properly

My kids have a knack for answering my questions with concise, factual answers like “I don’t know” or “I guess so” or “nothing happened.” They’re young people, so I don’t expect enlightening answers that open doors to stimulating conversations.

On the other hand, I need more. I would like to know what happened at school, if they had a good time at the mall, how they feel about their teachers, etc.

The thing about recruiters and employers is that they want direct, factual  answers to their questions, not a long-winded response that has very little to do with the question at hand. In order to make the interview go smoothly, adhere to the following 6 requirements:

1. Listen to the questions: Some people have the tendency to formulate what they’re going to say before the interviewer finishes with his question.  This causes you to take off in a direction that is heading the wrong way and is hard to correct. If you need clarification, ask what the interviewer meant by his question…just don’t do this too often, lest you come across as daft.

2. Think before speaking: All too often we want to answer a question as soon as it’s left the employer’s lips. This is a mistake, as you want to deliver of the best possible answer before you blurt out an inadequate one. The interview is not a game where the fastest job candidate to respond wins. Occasionally taking time to reflect shows thoughtfulness on your part. It also speaks to requirement number one: listen.

3. Don’t talk too much: When you’re talking with a recruiter, over elaborating on an answer may be more harmful than helpful. Recruiter Mark Bregman says in his article Don’t be De-Selected this about being loquacious:

“You risk boring the screener, or worse, they don’t ask all their questions, because you wasted too much time on early questions.  Then, the screener might not have an opportunity to really get the key info they need to screen you in.”

When you go into too much detail, you come off as someone who talks too much. For me, and I imagine others, this is a great irritant and makes me want to end an interview.

 4. Make your answers relevant: Everything you say must be relevant to the interviewer’s direct question.  “If the question is ‘How did you improve processes?’, don’t start describing in detail the products you were making; just answer the question,” advises Mark. This is also a sign that you have no idea how to answer the question. In this case, ask for more time saying, “This is a very important question, one that I’d like to answer. Could we return to it?” Or admit that you can’t answer it.

5. Don’t ask too many questions: Career advisors encourage interviewees to ask questions during the interview to make it seem more like a discussion, as long as you have enough questions to ask at the end. Mark says this can backfire if you ask too many questions. I see his point. Interviewers are busy people and don’t want you to take over the interview.

6. Say enough: Finally it’s essential that you effectively answer the interviewers questions with enough detail and plenty of examples of your successes. Many times a job candidate won’t provide enough information for the interviewer to make a decision on whether to hire that person. You don’t want to let opportunities to pass you by. Many jobseekers I talk with regret having not sold themselves at the interview, which was due, in part, to not elaborating on an answer they knew they could have nailed.

Effective communications at an interview requires the ability to listen and then answer the questions with transparency and accuracy. Take your time, respond with accomplishments, and most importantly just answer the questions. On the other hand, don’t give answers like my children do.