The act of interviewing someone for a position is no joke. It’s not as easy as it seems, and this is one of the reasons we have so many well spoken employees who are ‘underperformers’, yep, I said it. We are in a social culture where we love the rhetoric, and it convinces us that these eloquent speakers are our best fit. We hire them and find out, not so, not so at all.
We naively believe that there are standard questions we ask, and expect standard responses, and if they speak well on the interview then that’s it. “Tell me about yourself”…”Why should we hire you?” These two are our heavy hitters in an interview and if we hear what we want from the interviewee then he/she is good to go (or should I say, good to come, or good to hire…?)
We fail to understand that there are people who study how to ace an interview and have all the right responses, but interviewers should look beyond that. They should have excellent listening skills where they hear the unsaid, or the loaded response, that warning signal cue within the rhetoric…They should have excellent analytical skills where they “read between the lines”.
I recall being on a panel interview where we had to interview persons for the position of secretary. The interviewee was on a roll to impress the panelists and was doing an impressive job too, based on the non-verbal and verbal responses of the other panelists. I had no questions, but listened keenly and heard no warning cues until I noticed on her resume that she had training in Early Childhood Care (we only received the resumes less than 30 minutes before the interview sessions began, so we had very little time to peruse the seven resumes and application letters). I then asked her a question that led to her stating that she loved children and would prefer working in her area of training despite having experience as a secretary. Bingo!!! Sadly, she was not selected and for obvious reasons. Subsequent related questions ruled her out as not the best fit for the job.
Point I’m making is that interviewers should be trained to conduct interviews, and panelists should not be chosen solely because they are managers and directors. I’m also referring to the HR recruiters and interviewers. This lack of training shows up in inappropriate questions that are personal and unrelated to the job, and boy, do I have some examples of them!!! You’d be shocked, I tell you… Inappropriate comments are also uttered, and sometimes the interviewees themselves are taken aback by both comments and questions they know should not be uttered. Tis sad…
But then again…training to conduct interviews is one challenge, after the training is administered, there’s the application of it, and therein lies another challenge… HR needs to invest in training their managers and directors inna de Gov-A-Ment Yaad, and not take it for granted that their position (higher “level”) determines their competence in conducting interviews. We can only hope that the training will be applied, but for Pete’s sake, still train them.
Interviewers should also be mindful of the fact that they should maintain a professional image as they expect the interviewees to do. Since they are the interviewers, it behooves (yes, I did it again; old school language) them to ensure that they are also projecting the appropriate professional image. This includes avoidance of the following:
- the use of phone on interview (phone should not even be visible to interviewee)
- the use of colloquialisms during interview
- unprofessional posture
- giving interviewee the impression that they will be “the chosen one” before, during or after the interview
- passing notes to panelists during the interview
- whispering or non-verbal gestures during interview
- deliberately making interviewee uncomfortable or nervous
- telling an interviewee what he/she should’ve said instead or what they should’ve known (correcting the interviewee)
- conducting mini-discussions during interview with panelists
- ridicule the interviewee
These ain’t no text book issues, people, these are real life happenings, mannnn…inna de Gov-A-Ment Yaad…