Interview Success Lies not in Tricks, but Flow

A face-to-face interview is a common denominator in all hiring processes. I have personally seen how hiring managers do interviews and many are not effective enough to elicit enough insight in making an objective assessment. Related books out there have not been helpful, with its content focusing on model interview questions-and-answers. An interview ought to be a two-way street, a dialogue to learn from both parties if there is a good fit. The following is a simple approach on how I conduct face-to-face interviews that maximise time to assess the candidate and pitch the vacant position well.

Calibrate role understanding by asking: "What do you understand about the role nature?" This is an opening that serves two needs: Ensuring that the candidate is fully informed on the role and allowing an opportunity for the interviewer to clarify further on the valued requirements of the role. Personally, I spend on average of about five to seven minutes on this question and would recommend that you stay within this duration to provide more time for other interview segment.

Elicit achievement and experience by asking: "Why would you say that you are the best fit for this role?" The previous question act as a lead-on to this question where it allows the interviewee to showcase and elaborate his or her achievements and relevant experiences. By concentrating on these achievements, it enables the interviewer to gauge or contextualise these achievements to the role. For example, knowing that the key requirement of a HR business partner role is to be a strong influencer to business partners. A candidate who proclaims that he is a HR Business Partner and that his biggest achievement was to organise a Christmas office party successfully, is of a different calibre. Finally, by asking this question on best fit serves as a lead-on to answer the next question: a competency base question.

Ask a competency-based question: (e.g. Describe a time where you had the most difficult time in convincing your stakeholders in buying your proposal?). A competency-based interview approach essentially allows interviewer to have candidate to share or narrate experiences relevant to the question. The type of competency based question can vary but the commonality of such questions lies in the fact that it seeks answer on the how. In other words, how does the candidate react in a situation? Such question enables the interviewer to gauge if the candidate would be a good cultural fit for the team, the company.

Sell the role: At this stage, the interviewer should have a good gauge on whether the candidate is suitable for the role. It is a good time now to reinforce how this role would be beneficial to the candidate's professional profile. Some of the areas which the interviewer may want to dwell on may include the makeup of the team, or the skills and career progression which the candidate will gain via this role. This step is an important one, and I would advise not to skip it.

Close the session with invitation for candidate to ask one question:This question serves two purpose: Firstly it allows you to appreciate how well the candidate had researched your company so you can have a gauge on the interest and motivational level of the candidate. Secondly, it helps the candidate to prioritise the most important question to ask so you can focus on attending to the candidate's most important concern.

In a nutshell

An interview is meant to be a dialogue, not monologue or worse, an interrogation. In places where employment rate is high (e.g. Singapore), where it's an employee job market, it is critical that recruiters and hiring managers are skilled in effective interviewing. The above approach is definitely not rocket science.  The advantage of this approach is that it does not rely on some "secret tricks" or model interview questions-and-answers. In brief, it focuses on the interview flow and types of interview questions to derive interview effectiveness. Do give the above method a try and share your comments below.

This article first appeared in HRM Asia -http://www.hrmasia.com/content/interview-success-lies-not-tricks-flow

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