Improve Your Interviewing Techniques
By: Gregory P. Smith
Greg Smith's cutting-edge keynotes, consulting, and training programs have helped businesses reduce turnover, increase sales, hire superior people, and deliver better customer service. As President and founder of Chart Your Course International, He has implemented professional development programs for thousands of organizations globally. Greg has authored eight informative books including Here Today, Here Tomorrow: Transforming Your Workforce from High Turnover to High Retention and 401 Proven Ways to Retain Your Best Employees. He lives in Atlanta, Georgia. For more information, visit www.ChartCourse.com or call (770) 860-9464.
A successful interview should determine if there is a match between the individual and the job. Furthermore, a good interview process allows you to understand their behavior, values, motivations, and qualifications. Time and time again we have seen people hired for sales jobs that don’t like calling people, customer service people whom can’t look into your eyes and say, “Hello.” Then there are good employees promoted into management positions and have no clue how to lead and manage others. Here are several reasons why interviewing techniques fail:
Lack of preparation - The first impression lasts a long time. Prior to the interview make sure you understand the key elements of the job. Develop a simple outline that covers general job duties. Possibly work with the incumbent to get a better idea of what the job is about. Screen the resumes and application to gain information for the interview. Standardize and prepare the questions you will ask each applicant. Behavioral based questions are used to evaluate the applicant’s past behavior, experience and initiative such as:
Lack of purpose - Not only are you trying to determine the best applicant, but you also have to convince the applicant that this is the best place for them to work. Today’s workers have many more choices and job opportunities to choose from.
Lack of clearly defined job competencies - Each job can have anywhere from 6-14 job competencies. Identify the behaviors, knowledge, motivations and qualities incumbents need to have to be successful in the job. If the job requires special education or a license, be sure to include it on your list also. There are several assessments and profiles available to help insure you have a good match between the applicant and the job.
Lack of structure - The best interview follows a structured process. This doesn’t mean that the entire process is inflexible without spontaneity. What it means that each applicant is asked the same questions and is scored with a consistent rating process. A structured approach helps avoid bias and gives all applicants a fair chance. The best ways to accomplish this is by using behavioral based questions, role-plays and situational questions. Here are some examples:
Situational based questions evaluate the applicant’s judgement ability and knowledge. The interviewer first gives the applicant a hypothetical situation such as:You are the store manager of a hardware store. One of your employees has just told you that he thinks another worker is stealing merchandise from the store.
- Give me an example when you . . .
- Describe an incident where you went over and beyond the call of duty . . .
- Tell me about the time you reached out for additional responsibility . . .
- Tell me about the largest project you worked on . . .
Sample role-plays are effective ways to learn and practice new skills. They can also be used during the interview process to determine the skills and personal charisma of people during stress. For example, if you are interviewing a customer service representative you can use a role-play to see how this person can manage an irate customer. When using role-plays consider the following guidelines.
- What should you do?
- What additional information should you obtain?
- How many options do you have?
- When or if should you call the police?
As said in an earlier article, the traditional interview is never 100% reliable. Yes, a structured approach will improve your chances, but it is important to go one step further. Pre-employment screening is an important aspect of the hiring process for a growing number of employers. By using various assessments and profiles organizations have been able to help clients reduce turnover and improve the quality of the workforce. Behavioral assessments have proven to be an effective tool for improving the management of an organization. They provide an accurate analysis of employee's behaviors and attitudes otherwise left to subjective judgment.
- It is a good idea to write the situation down on paper. Give the person time or a short break to “get into character” prior to beginning the role-play.
- Give the candidate clear guidelines and background information so they thoroughly understand the situation.
- Allow them to ask questions before you begin.
- Debrief the applicant at the conclusion of the role-play. Ask them to tell you how they thought they did and how they could have done it differently. Conclude the role-play in a positive way.