May 1, 2012
A good journalist uses curiosity and research to tell compelling stories that answer untold questions across all mediums. Similarly, hiring teams should hone their interview skills and look at each job seeker through a journalistic lens to aims to uncover the professional stories that have led them to the open role(s).
Look at an interview as a way to meet a new and interesting person. For better interview skills, try to leave every meeting able to describe your applicant’s personality, 5-year plan, and at least two fun facts about them to others on your team. Be genuinely curious about their personalities, motivations, and aspirations. These things matter as the information on their resumes, maybe even more. Have fun too! After all, you may even hire someone based on their strong resume – but you work with the person, not the past.
Know why you’re asking a question before you’re asking it. An ordinary interview doesn’t value the questions. A better interview has purposeful, valuable ones. Have a mental checklist of what you value and, therefore, what you’re trying to discover in each candidate. Treat questions like a gentle nudge for them to provide you the information you want, not the half of the interview where you get to talk.
Give your applicants room to breathe after they answer a serious interview question. Don’t be over-eager to respond to something they say; that’s their job, if they so choose. In fact, consider waiting at least three seconds after they answer a question before giving any strong verbal or non-verbal response. Give them room to elaborate or explain an answer without receiving direction from you. You’ll find yourself getting answers that are both more candid and more thorough once they depart from the “script”.
Don’t be afraid to play hardball. Ask questions that matter, even if they’re a little uncomfortable. You might not like asking them, but consider the repercussions of dodging an issue that comes back to bite you later on. A better interview requires you taking responsibility as your company’s gatekeeper each and every time.
Pay close attention to what they say, make notes, and remember everything. Across the table is a person opening themselves up for judgment. That takes courage. Just let them show you who they are. Before and after the interview, check out their social media accounts. Look into their references and don’t just go through the motions. Ask questions about specific things you want to address, just like you did in the interview. This person has a story. It’s your job to piece it together. Better interview skills develop from an understanding that your next employee isn’t just a CV and resume. He or she is a person, and hopefully, your next employee.