By Carrie S Ahmad, SPHR, SHRM-SCP
Vice President, People, Turning the Corner, LLC
Interview Tips from a Recruiters Perspective
I thought the web was saturated with too much information on how to interview well, but based on the interviews I’ve participated in recently, and stories I’ve heard from other hiring managers, the messages on how to interview isn’t getting through.
Here are my top 4 tips on interviewing:
1. Don’t dominate the conversation – Let the interviewer lead the interview.
On Tuesday I was sitting in a Starbucks and overheard an interview, which nearly made me laugh out loud. The interviewee showed up first, got coffee, and was mentally preparing himself for the interview. My first thought was “Good for him! He’s on time, dressed professionally, and prepared.” As soon as the interviewer showed up everything went downhill. The interviewee took control right away, asked questions (that were completely unrelated to the job), talked, talked, and talked some more. In 30 minutes I barely heard the interviewer speak. And when I observed body language I could tell the interviewer was frustrated and ready to be done. Think the interviewee got the job? My guess is NO.
Interviewers come to interviews prepared with questions they want to ask to determine if you will be a fit for their team and the role. If you don’t give them a chance to ask questions, they won’t be able to see you as a fit. What they will see is someone who is a terrible listener, and who wants a bad listener on their team?
2. Prepare Prepare Prepare! – Research the company who invited you for an interview and come to the interview prepared to ask questions. This point is so important it deserves 2 stories!
I had lunch last week with the owner of a growing company in Denver and we were discussing recent candidate interviews. She shared that one of her greatest frustrations is candidates who have no questions when she asks, “what questions do you have for me?” I share her frustration. A candidate who can’t think of a question reveals several things: 1) they didn’t prepare, 2) they aren’t really interested in the job because if they were they’d want to know more about the role, the company, and/or the team, and 3) they aren’t the person I want to hire because they lack interest and curiosity.
A few months back my CEO was scheduled to interview an executive for a CFO role. When the candidate showed up and sat down with her the first words he uttered were, “so tell me what I’m interviewing for again.” What! That ended the interview on the spot. Know what you are interviewing for, know what the company does, know who you are interviewing with, and take time to prepare.
3. Be on time – Plan for traffic, plan for parking to be difficult, plan for time to find the building and office.
In April I was interviewing candidates for a client and my teammate had been clear with each candidate that they needed to allow themselves extra time for traffic and parking in Boulder. Her email and calendar invites to all candidates stated to allow extra time so they wouldn’t be late. Guess what – more than 1 candidate was late for the interview. Being late is disrespectful in most all situations. Show courtesy and that you value the interviewer’s time by being on time. And for those who are interviewers, this applies to you too – if you schedule an interview with a candidate – be on time for it!
4. Be clear and concise – Rambling will cause your interviewer to lose interest.
This ties back to points 1 & 2. When you prepare and when you let the interviewer lead, you are less likely to get caught up in rambling. The interviewer wants a strong overall understanding of who you are, what you’ve done, and what you bring to the role. If you ramble you won’t allow your interviewer time to ask all the questions they want to ask to really get to know you. Answer the questions fully, but try to keep each answer to less than 90 seconds.