Insight Feb: Success in the Interview
Recently we had an engineer interview for a position he was highly qualified for because of his unique skill-set. We worked with the client to help them quickly get from the candidate what they needed to ensure the technical criteria and let them focus on the cultural needs. We prepared the candidate on the process and the folks he’d be talking to; what was important to them and why. The result? Both parties were willing to move to the offer stage even before a face to face interview!
Interviewing is a very touchy subject because we all think we’re really good at it. Hiring Authorities (HA’s) think they’re good at interviewing candidates but when debriefing candidates, it is common for us to hear, “I think s/he talked >70% of the time”. Candidates think they’re great at the process because, “I’ve gotten an offer from every interview I’ve been to”; as it turns out, except for the one I sent them on.
We may disagree on many things but let’s agree on this one point – Interviewing is ridiculously hard regardless of which side of the desk you’re sitting and few of us know what we’re doing. I know I didn’t!
“Tell me a little bit about yourself.” How many candidates were prepared for this request? “Run me through your résumé?” should be a request for a 100-yard dash but is more like the starting gun for a marathon. Why even make these requests? If the answer is, “because it’s how every interview starts”, it’s time to rethink your approach. If you want to improve your success rate, get the team onboard with the needs and forget the wants. Then make sure the candidate is hearing a consistent message because in the current market, they have a lot of options.
As a candidate, do your responses begin with “Um, well”, or “Well, you see”, or some other banal opening that’s the result of your lack of preparation? Do you prepare for the common openings mentioned in the previous paragraph? Boy Scouts learn their motto from day 1, ‘Be Prepared’ and if there was ever an all-encompassing phrase that we can apply in every circumstance, this is it.
At MRGN, we work at the beginning of the process to understand the required outcome of the hire. We drill into culture at both the organizational and departmental level. We understand that a laundry list of wants frequently boils down to a short list of needs. We prep the candidate with both generic content and an in-depth overview of what the HA is looking for. We spend time on the company, what they do, where they want to go and how this role will help them get there.
We’ll leave you with this:
As an HA; how prepared were you for the last interview you conducted? Did you have a list of questions and know what answers you needed to hear? What percentage of the time did you spend talking versus listening? Did the team ask the same questions? Were the outcomes the same?
As a Candidate; how prepared were you? Were you able to respond to questions succinctly or did you fumble? Were you clear on their needs and able to deliver value to those? Were you willing to ask the question “In your mind, are there any major gaps in the skills I have to offer”, or were you too apprehensive of the answer?
Which side of the desk do you sit on and how can we help you feel better about the results you’re getting?