Top 10 tips on how to interview people for a job

Its so surprising that the internet is full of tips and tricks and rules on how to prepare for an interview for the interviewee but few for the interviewer. That is a little presumptuous, don’t you think? Why doesn’t anybody talk about it?

I have been attending interviews for the past few days. A few months before, I was interviewing people. While I was introspecting about my experiences from being on both sides of the table, I noticed some unmistakable patterns. I am sharing a few insights from my experiences of giving and taking interviews.

Good interviews share a few things in common in addition to the fact that both parties come out feeling good and/or learning something new about themselves.

A good interview can be a very meaningful and fulfilling interaction with a stranger which is very rare in our everyday lives.

What triggered this was a particularly bad interview followed by an excellent one. When I call it bad or excellent it has got nothing to do with the outcome. It was the way it was conducted.

Do your homework

Don’t go kicking the tin can as you go along. The candidates can see through that and don’t expect them to respect you or your organization.

Be Extra Nice

Be mindful and gentle. Give them the benefit of doubt. Be extra nice. Treat them like a guest. Make them feel comfortable. Offer them a glass of water or coffee. Smile. Don’t be a bossman/woman. Bad attitude is a turn off for both sides. Above all, make them drop their defence in the first few minutes. Irrespective of how they present themselves outwardly, all they want to do is make a good impression. So, smile and make them feel warm and welcome, even if they did not make a good first impression. Give them some space to be their natural selves.

Just be human. And smile for god’s sake. Please don’t keep staring at your laptop all the time while they are talking to you. I know you are taking notes, but it feels like an interrogation. Spend 10 minutes after the interview to quickly jot things down. If you follow a consistent method of inquiry, it becomes easy to remember the points.

Ask the right questions

And start the interview gently and sincerely. Avoid cliches like, ‘Give me your elevator pitch’. They are not selling anything. Please don’t say that they are selling themselves. That doesn’t sound right. They are not selling themselves. They are looking for a meaningful thing to do with their lives and in return hope to get paid to sustain themselves and their family. Isn’t that what you want too?

Don’t start with work and skill related inquiries. And don’t start with, “So…Tell me about yourself.” Ask something that will help you know their real motivation for applying for the role. Or the motivation for choosing the profession. Ask questions that will help you know the aptitude and the attitude of the person.

First let the person speak about their personal journey. This loosens them up for further inquiry. Then check if the person has the skills to do the job. Then check if you can build a relationship with this person. Can you have lunch with this person, everyday? Does the person have any interesting hobbies outside work? And can they speak about it with passion? Can you go out on a Friday evening for a beer with this person? Can the person’s ideologies and experiences can enrich you and the organization?

Some jobs require you to be a well behaved person even if you are not too skilled at what you do. Some jobs can accommodate a$$h01e$ as long as they extremely skilled at what they do. Just be mindful of what you and your team can handle.

Listen to their stories

Encourage them to tell their stories. Everybody has a story and wants to tell them. You just have to gently nudge them.

Take interest in their life because they came all the way just because you wanted to meet them. They came to tell you their story in their own way.

Just listen.

Be Honest

Don’t act like you know everything. You don’t know what the other person knows. Its alright to say that you don’t know, when you don’t. Don’t fake. Apologize instead of lying. They will respect you for that.

Its better to tell the truth about the organization and role upfront than to have a person in the team who feels cheated by you. Also, if you warn the candidate directly or indirectly about the shortcomings of the organization or the challenges within the organization, when they choose to join, they will be mentally prepared.

Try not to judge

Trust your gut

We are all too used to high stakes test and we expect people to be on their best when they appear for a challenge. Experience tells that it is not possible.

Just trust your gut. No matter how hard people try to be ‘different’ in the interviews, their real personalities come through if you apply gentle pressure at the right spots. Stay far away from people who you feel are being dishonest even if they say and do all right things and seem like a perfect fit. People can fake everything. Some people are really good at it. But they can’t cheat your gut instincts.

Stay in control

Help them to accept the outcome

Put yourself in that shoe. If they do not make the cut, let them not feel like a loser. Be nice. Please. Help them accept the outcome. Give meaningful and relevant feedback, if you have any, so that they can improve their chances of finding a job or seek appropriate help. Be nice. Please.

Also, If you change your mind or by a twist of fate you end up working with them in the future, you will still be able to take it from a there on a positive note.

Hire them for yourselves

Good Karma

Disagree with something? Have I forgotten something? Do you like something? Don’t be shy to write a couple of lines.

Object Maker. Experience Collector. Story Seeker. Wikipedia Glutton. Happy Sleeper.

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