I love interviewing. However, I know not everyone does. I had a client once say he would rather get teeth pulled than undertake an interview.
Why do I love it? An interview is a very powerful communication tool. When conducted well, it is like going on a journey…unravelling situations, understanding experiences and, importantly, uncovering the key drivers of people and what motivates them. Or, it is like working through a story book, with every page and chapter providing information (sometimes full of mystery and intrigue).
Let’s break down the interview and look at what it provides.
First, a great interview should cover major achievements. These indicate what the person has been successful in and usually what they like doing. The old adage applies that the more someone enjoys doing something, the more successful they are likely to be at it. These successes do need to align with what you require in the role you are looking to fill.
Next, you need to aim for insight into their personality. How have they dealt with difficult situations? How have they influenced people? How have they gotten things done through others? Have they handled difficult bosses? This is all useful information on how they react to, and deal with, situations and people. Importantly, also listen for how they have improved and gained better skills on their journey.
The line of questioning above also begins to give insight into values. You can also consider questions like, when have they not allowed something to occur? When have they pulled someone up for ‘over-stepping the mark’? How have they performance-managed people? How have they engaged with and inspired others? Remember, you are looking for a repeating pattern of behaviour, as past behaviour is still the greatest predictor of future behaviour.
Interviews are not fool proof and need to be supported with other tools to help bring additional insight. These include reference checking, psychological testing and, in some instances, the use of assessment centres. However, these should primarily confirm what you have already uncovered on your journey of discovery.
If you don’t like doing interviews, I encourage you to see them as a journey…or find someone who does enjoy them. Disinterest shows during an interview whereas when you show more interest in your interviewee and their story, they will more easily and openly engage with you.
If you would like further insights on interviewing, please get in touch with me. After 28 years of interviewing, and more than 10,000 interviews, I still love discovering the career journeys people have been on.