Interviewing Success Parts 1, 2, & 3

Interviewing Success Parts 1, 2, & 3

March 2, 2016

tonyArticleInterviewing Success part 1

How to Prepare for Interviewing Top Talent

Suggested intro: Too many times interviews are not as effective as they can be.  Biases can cloud judgment or a lack of transparency about the process can turn off top talent.  Interviews should be viewed as hiring conversations, it is a time for both interviewer and interviewee to determine if they are compatible.

Over the next three articles, we will explore ways to conduct more successful interviews that ultimately increase new-hire performance and decrease time of training to proficiency.  Keep reading to where we begin with preparing yourself for the interview.

Hone Your Interviewing Skills

Interviewing is a skill that requires practice for both the interviewer and interviewee.  Active job-seekers usually have an advantage, making it important for interviewers to find ways to hone their skills.  One great way to do this is to conduct a few stay interviews with existing team members.  Stay interviews are one-on-one structured retention interviews between a manager and a highly valued “at-risk-of-leaving team member.”  This activity will exercise interviewing skills while reconnecting with top performers.

Just as great candidates properly prepare for an interview, so do great interviewers.  Define the needs, both in skill set and attitude, for the position.  If this is not done, the person hired is usually someone who the interviewer connects with due to similar personalities, not necessarily the person that is the best fit for the position and/or organization.  Determine behavioral indicators and a scoring method by analyzing the traits in both the top and poor  performers.  This will allow candidates to be ranked based on core competencies and cultural fit.

The interview is the first impression a candidate will have on the organization.  Make it count by being on time, prepared, and respectful of their time.  Take the time to review the candidate’s resume and do a quick search on social media to learn more about them.  Too many times interviewers give off the impression that their time is more valuable than the candidate’s.  This does not bode well in a candidate-driven job market.  Focus on the candidate.  If possible, conduct the interview in a conference room to remain free from distractions.

According to Amanda Augustine, 20% of the interview should be used to confirm skill set.  The remaining 80% should be determining cultural fit.  In many cases, hiring decisions are made in the first 2-3 minutes.  These decisions are based on biases which include dress, handshake or the mental picture of a candidate based on their resume.  It is important to remember that a handshake or interview attire DO NOT indicate interpersonal skills or ability to perform.  Keep an open mind and listen to the candidate.  Ask follow-up questions.  It is in these follow-up questions that usually reveal more than their resume.

Be transparent about the process, including next steps and decision-making timeline.  It is also very important to close the loop on each and every applicant.  This shows that the organization respects the candidate’s time and effort enough to let them know of their decision.

Interviewing can be stressful for both the interviewer and candidate.  Proper preparation can relieve this stress and allow for a better interview experience.  Determining behavioral indicators can help create a level “playing field” and expedite the decision-making process.  Next time, we will continue the discussion with a deeper look at conducting behavioral interviews.

Interviewing Success part 2

How to Create Great Interview Questions

Suggested intro: The ultimate test of capability comes from the interview.  This is where the organization and candidate have the opportunity to size each other up in person.  Asking the right questions on both sides is important in order to gain a complete picture of a future partnership.  It is important for the organization to prepare questions that will uncover the candidate’s capability based on skill set, motivation and cultural fit.

Keep reading to learn how to develop a set of questions that will maximize the interview experience.

Title: Interview Questions That Are Not Usual or Customary

When it comes to filling a vacancy there are two big frustrations.  The first is finding qualified talent that is open to hearing more about the opportunity.  The second is finding the right questions to ask during the hiring conversation that will reveal if that candidate is a good fit.

The old standards, such as “What is your biggest weakness?” and “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” are still in rotation, despite being less than helpful in determining a candidate’s true abilities and/or cultural fit.  It seems that just when a company has the interview question dilemma sorted out, the roster of questions and answers appear online.

To truly peel away the onion that is the candidate, interview questions need to elicit truthful answers that give insight on that candidate’s behavior, skill set and cultural fit.  This is the premise of the behavioral interview.  The concept of a behavioral interview is based upon the notion that past performance predicts future behavior.

There is a simple formula that can be used to create behavior questions based upon the opportunity and culture:

Standard question (“Tell me a time when…”) + Behaviors required by the position (organized, autonomous, etc.) + Real life work situation = great behavioral-based question.

It is also good to add some unexpected questions to the mix.  Here are a few that can show a candidate’s true colors.

  • What is a favorite app on your phone right now?
  • If I asked you to assemble a piece of Ikea furniture, what steps would you take?
  • When do you feel that you are doing your best work?
  • How did you get to this stage of your career?
  • Give me your personal definition of success.

When formulating questions, try to use the future tense.  Questions about the future cause the candidate to stop and think.  Getting them slightly off track usually garners more genuine answers.

There is nothing wrong with going online to see what questions other organizations are using.  This type of research can be invaluable in formulating questions.  There are even lists of questions that people say are their favorites.  Check out one of these lists by clicking here. [<- INSERT]

The ultimate goal of an interview is to gain more insight.  Great interview questions are the means of gathering this information.  Getting the candidates to think on their feet during this process can help determine if they are the right fit for the position and organization.

Interviewing Success part 3

How to Use Video Interviewing to Decrease Time to Hire

Suggested intro: Video interviews can cut recruiting costs by nearly 50% and are a great way to decrease time spent on phone screenings or first round interviews.  Asking open-ended questions that focus on accomplishments and problem solving will help “weed out” those that are not good fits for the position and/or organization.

Video Interviews as a Phone Screening Alternative

Top talent are more mobile than ever thanks to technology.  Accessing them means employing that same technology to get through to them.  Many organizations are beginning to embrace video interviews as a way to save time and money while increasing the pool of potential candidates.

There are many great reasons to replace phone interviews with video.

  • Increased convenience for candidates and hiring managers – Many vendors allow an organization to set up specific questions to be asked. Candidates can record the video on their schedule.  Recorded interviews can also allow great access to passive candidates.
  • Increased access to talent worldwide – Live interviews via Skype or Face Time allow candidates and hiring managers to have hiring conversations anytime, anywhere.
  • Decreased interview bias – The same questions are used for all candidates, which creates a level playing field. Other biases based upon dress or handshakes are also eliminated.
  • Interview can be reviewed by more than one person – Videos can be viewed by several key decision makers to determine if the candidate should move onto the next stage. This allows for a panel interview without placing the pressure of the panel on the candidate.

One of the biggest apprehensions with video interviews is that the candidate can script their responses.  If an outside vendor is used, the probability of this is low.  The organization will load in the questions.  When the candidate clicks start, the question will appear.  There will be a short time delay to allow the candidate to think about their response, and then the webcam begins recording.  Second or third takes are usually not allowed.  When viewing the final footage, hiring managers can look for body language, such as reading off a script.

Video interviews are not for everyone, organization and candidate alike.  Organizations should pilot a video interview program before completely abandoning phone screenings.  Phone screenings may never be completely eliminated for some.  Approximately one in three candidates will refuse to do a video interview.  It is up to the organization to determine if this is a self-selection process or if phone interviews will be conducted with those individuals.

Many video interviewing vendors can integrate into an existing ATS.  This allows for the video to be saved on the candidate’s file.  The hiring manager can make notes on the candidate and determine which first round candidates should be invited to the second round of face-to-face or live interviews.

Video interviews are not a final decision-maker, but are a great way to screen many candidates in a short period of time.


How to Maximize Video Interviews –

10 Reasons a Video Interview Could Replace a Phone Screen –

Video Interview Best Practices for Employers –

6 Interview Questions to Ask Candidates in a Video Interview –

The Case for Ditching Traditional Job Interviews –

4 Ways to Make Interviewing a 2-Way Street –

Conduct the Perfect Job Interview in Twelve Simple Steps –

Even Experienced Interviewers Make These Mistakes –

What Kindergarten Teachers Know That Interviewers Don’t –

What Golf and Interviewing Have in Common –

The Many Perils of Interview Handshakes – and Why They Cause You to Lose Top Candidates –

The Worst Interview Question Ever –

Here’s How You Need to Upgrade Your Behavioral Interviews –

10 Fastballs and 1 Curveball to Ask Your Top Candidates –

How to Build Powerful Behavioral-Based Questions –

62 Interview Questions People Said Were Their Favorites –]

Let me know your thoughts and experiences with this approach. If you would like to learn more, I’m only a keystroke away.

Tony Bengtson, SPHR
Precision Recruiting, Inc.
CTRN Founder and President
Coors Corporate Gold Supplier Award Recipient
(303) 627-9189

Posted in Advice, Recruiting