I frequent job search networking groups where, occasionally, I am the presenter. In a recent presentation, I told the audience that from my perspective, 5 out of 10 interviewers do a poor job; 3 out of 10 are good at it; and 2 out of 10 are excellent. The audience agreed with me, even though many in attendance were in leadership positions themselves and had conducted interviews for their companies. The vast majority of people who said they’d conducted such job candidate interviews had never taken any preparatory courses in the subject of interviewing, yet they had interviewed many job seekers. They said they had conducted those interviews on gut feelings by using methods and questions similar to those they themselves experienced when being interviewed in the past. This state of affairs is a shame.
Interviewing is an art and a science combined. The objective behind every interview question is to predict to what extent the candidate’s past performance and accomplishments match the company’s future needs. And even though the hiring manager’s opinion is important, so is the input of others, such as team members and the customers they support. A diversity of opinions generates a better outcome.
The four main things interviewers look for are great communication skills, outstanding technical competency, a pertinent cultural fit, and a high level of motivation. All four components are important, and if even one of them is missing—even though the candidate may be very strong in the other three—the end result will most likely not be favorable for the candidate.
Typically, companies call back the top candidates for further selection. That second interview’s objectives are (1) to gain more knowledge about the candidate’s motivation, (2) probe in more depth the candidate’s ability to gain the trust of colleagues and customers, and (3) to become able to predict the candidate’s future behavior. In some cases, there are three or even more sets of interviews.
The investment of time and effort in a structured and thorough interview process yields rewarding results. A structured interview includes a consensus meeting of members of the interviewing team—a very important segment of the entire interview process. That meeting brings the entire interviewing process into focus and enables the interviewing-team members to each interpret for the rest of the team what they heard during their interview of the candidate.
Employee turnover costs companies 10 to 30 percent of the job candidate’s yearly salary—without mentioning the loss of productivity and the internal turmoil. Besides the cost of hiring the wrong job candidate, such a decision can be detrimental to the entire team or organization. You probably know the idiom “one bad apple can spoil the whole bunch.” And how true that is in terms of hiring.
by Alex Freund