Improve Your Interview Procedures and Get Results

Have you ever asked these questions during a job interview?

Q. What do you want to be doing five years from now-Q. How would you handle a situation where an employee needed discipline-Q. What do you consider your strengths and weaknesses-

Big mistake! Questions like these can inspire creative applicants to tell you what they think you want to hear in order to try and impress you.

Another mistake is asking theoretical questions. You’ll get theoretical answers and possibly learn a lot about the prospective employee’s dreams and fantasies. Or you might learn nothing at all.

A better approach is to ask for specifics to elicit responses that tell you what the applicant has done — rather than what he or she intends to do.

So, let’s reshape the three questions asked earlier.

Q. What do you want to be doing five years from now- And give me some examples of past achievements which will help you reach your goals.Q. Describe a time when you disciplined or reprimanded an employee. Did it wor

What are you going to get from the applicants now?

  • Probably more than the applicants intended to say. They may stammer through answers indicating they don’t have all the experience their resumes indicated.
  • You can check the truthfulness of answers. You can, in fact, talk with former supervisors and the applicant knows this.

Interviewers aren’t immune to gut feelings, but the goal of the interview is to get objective information which can be analyzed and verified.

So you need to practice “controlled subjectivity.” This means although you can’t freeze out emotional responses to applicants, you can control the direction of the interview to get the information desired.

Here’s how to get beyond a gut reaction to the reality of an applicant:

A supervisor walks into a room and notices the applicant is wearing clean, professional-looking clothes but dirty athletic shoes. In his mind, the supervisor has already rejected the applicant because of the shoes. But he unenthusiastically goes through the motions of the interview and wastes everyone’s time.

But let’s suppose the interviewer conducts a rigorous interview. He suddenly discovers the applicant is smart, articulate, imaginative and able to handle difficult situations with ease. The candidate is hired and told the company’s dress code requires clean dress shoes.

This is an example of interviewing and hiring with controlled subjectivity. It’s hard to train people to be imaginative, but it’s easy to tell them to change their shoes.

Make Interviews Productive

  • Hold training sessions. Supervisors interview employees who play the role of applicants.
  • Let the interviewers grill the role-playing applicants to test questions and reactions.
  • Identify questions that prompt answers that provide real, specific, job-related and experience-related information.
  • Prepare a list of these best questions for supervisors to use when interviewing applicants.

With good interviewing skills you increase the chances of hiring the right employee and not losing a good prospect. Use the brief time of an interview to get at the facts that go beyond the resume.


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