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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

Springtime Preparation for Hiring the Best

Springtime Preparation for Hiring the Best

April 27, 2015


I have the good fortune of doing what I enjoy most – helping people in companies across the country get the right talent on board to take their department, and business, to the next level.

Since most companies kick off hiring in the spring, I thought you might benefit from one of my “trade secrets” to engage and attract top tier talent in today’s marketplace.

Many companies have a recruiting process designed for efficiency (getting candidates through the process quickly) rather than hiring top tier candidates. They also create job descriptions defining a particular person’s background rather than the position’s successful outcomes. Instead of listing the desired skills and requirements with the standard 5, 10, or 15 plus years of experience bullet points, how about writing a position description for hiring a person that can do the work of someone with 5, 10, or 15 plus years of experience?

Frequently, top tier people in any industry have less experience than their peers. That is what makes them top performers! Screening candidates on “years’ of experience” leaves a big hole in your net. Hiring managers need to expand their thinking about trying to hire a person just like themselves or someone else on their team. Rather, they should focus on what a person needs to do to be successful in the position. This paradigm shift in thinking could make a big difference in filling your next opening.

Keep in mind that Top Performers (our targeted top tier candidates) are generally the top 1/4 of the working population and they are almost never unemployed. In addition, they are very passive about looking for new opportunities because they are usually well employed and focused on their work.

Nobody I know has a surplus of top tier candidates in their database. One must go about finding, engaging, and recruiting them differently. It is not an easy task and it takes more time and effort. However, your ROI from having top tier candidates on your team is well worth the extra time, effort and money.

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

How to Measure the “It” Factor in Candidates

How to Measure the “It” Factor in Candidates

August 4th, 2014

You have heard it said before, and probably said it yourself, “I’ll know it when I see it.” So, what is the “It” factor when it comes to hiring the right candidate? With over 20 years of experience, here are some of my insider tips to filling professional to C-level positions with successful, all-star talent. Following this advice should net you candidates that are able to do the job based on their skills and experience, and hit the ground running. In addition, your candidates will be enthusiastic about the job, work well with everyone, and fit well within your company culture and environment. To find people with the right fit, take the time needed to really drill down and measure how well each candidate matches all the variables of the position. This is called “culture fit”. Understanding your business, and how the open position fits into its strategy and goals, is imperative. Without this understanding, you will never find the right candidate. Unfortunately, most interviewers do not take the time to get past the potential ability of a candidate to do the job. Interviewers focus on past performance, skills and education but frequently do not evaluate cultural fit and motivation. Assessing ability is easier than assessing these other qualities. For the best outcome, the latter is just as important as the former. How does one assess another’s ability to fit the corporate culture? Consider the following three points:

  1.  Work pace and stage of the company in its lifecycle – is it a Start-Up, Early Stage or Mature company?
  2. How the job is structured — creative or more formal?
  3. What is the manager’s style? Even though textbooks tell us to adapt our management style to each employee, it is just easier to hire candidates that already fit how someone manages.

Defining cultural fit is not easy; assessing it is even more difficult. Continue examining a candidate’s past performance and major accomplishments, but also dig into the pace of their former organizations, at what kinds of jobs the person excelled, the management style of the person’s favorite managers, and the ability to adjust to changing work conditions. This will provide you a better picture of the candidate’s ability to fit your culture. Once you have done this, the last piece of the puzzle is judging their motivational fit within your company. What is their “currency”? Is it in line with the department’s? Is it in line with the organization’s? Choosing the right candidate rests on the tripod of assessing ability, culture fit and motivation fit. The next time you conduct an interview, try looking at all three parts of the puzzle. Let me know how this works for you, or if you have any questions about interviewing your candidates. If you could use some “instant pain relief” with any of your recruiting challenges, call me today. Kindest Regards, Tony Bengtson, SPHR Precision Recruiting, Inc. CTRN Founder and President Coors Corporate Gold Supplier Award Recipient (303) 627-9189

Posted in Advice, Recruiting

Finding Leaders Starts By Listening

Finding Leaders Starts By Listening

 March 11th, 2014

tonyArticleThe Formula for Assessing Leadership = Identify the Problem, Find a Solution, Develop a Workable Plan, Inspire Others, Deliver Results.

This is a story worth repeating once a year or so, because hiring the right people for your leadership positions is critical. Regardless of the role, it is not difficult to identify leaders when you know what you are looking for.

The best people in any job, regardless of their age or level, can visualize the problem they’re facing and figure out a way to solve it.   Learn how to use the two-question interview process to learn how to listen for this when interviewing candidates.

See details and read full article by one of my mentors: Lou Adler, by clicking here.

Let me know if there is anything I can help you with.

Kindest Regards,


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

Posted in Advice, Recruiting

The Shadow IT Threat

The Shadow IT Threat

December 7th, 2013


Shadow IT is the next big issue for CIOs to figure out and tackle since addressing BYOD (“bring your own device”) if they want to stay relevant and keep up with the pace of business.

 I read this article in Information Week and I think you might find it interesting.

 The article:

 ·         Describes the unique challenges CIOs face with sprouting shadow IT groups in organizations, even in an era of strong information governance.

·         The advent of what started Shadow IT

·         How it disrupts the enterprise architecture consonance

·         Creates future technology support issues

·         Corporate risk around security and compliance.

 How are you addressing this challenge in your organization? Please let me know your thoughts.

 Finding top talent for your team is key to meeting your business objectives. Let me know if want to discuss your challenges in that area.

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


Posted in Advice, IT, Technology