I know, not many people look forward to job interviews regardless of which side of the desk they are on. And—first off—a desk between you is not a good thing. That is a power model that may make the interviewee so nervous you never see the real person he is. The purpose of the interview is to determine that each person involved will want to proceed to the next step or will have determined that this is not a fit. Here’s a basic recipe for the interview.
1. The Setting: Finding a Place to Interview at Your Organization
I have found that two casual chairs around a table or any neutral setting is far better than “the man behind the desk,” seemingly with all the power. I like to do interviews in a comfy seating area. Should you not have an area like that, at least get out from behind that big desk.
2. The Introduction: The Employer meeting the Prospective Employee
This is where my job as interviewer is to put the interviewee at ease. Small talk about the weather, “I love that sweater,” “hope you didn’t have trouble finding us” kind of conversation will put both employer and prospective employee on friendly ground.
3. Chronology: Going Over the Interviewee’s Resume
After small talk, I walk through the resume with the interviewee, starting with the least current—usually education—and moving to current. I am looking for skills gained, pride in accomplishment, increased responsibility, and moves to positions that were more fulfilling for the person. I also want to know what the interviewee has done on their own time to further their career. I ask about each manager they had and how the relationship and interaction was. It always amazes me when someone trashes every supervisor they ever had. Helloooo…this is an interview here!
There is a philosophy that people should change jobs often, always moving up. Frankly, I disagree. I like to see loyalty, longevity, and moves to positions that align with the person’s strengths and passions as opposed to “up the ladder.”
4. Interview the Employer
I always begin this portion asking what the interviewee has learned about my company or organization since scheduling the interview. I am hopeful that, with Google being what it is, they have researched me, my company, and the PEO industry (or whatever industry you are in). I want to know they are interested. Then I throw open the interview to allow them to question me. My job during this time is to ensure they get an answer to each question that would allow them to know if they want to work at this company. I “sell” my company or organization and am good at having interviewees tell me they would be excited to work for us. O.K., I admit—I don’t sell us to someone I have determined wouldn’t be a fit.
5. It’s a Wrap
Where do we go from here? I’ve had interviewees tell me at this point they don’t think it would work. I’ve told interviewees that I don’t think it will work. And mostly, I’ve told interviewees that the next step will be to evaluate all people who applied and get back with all of them to tell them, “thank you and good luck in your future search” or that we’d like to do another interview or testing (depending upon the case). I do not believe I should allow people to be out there wondering if they still have an opportunity with my company or not.
I truly believe the interview is simply a conversation with the objective of knowing if the parties will move forward or not. Stop thinking of this as the power model and start thinking of this as two people trying to accomplish the same thing. You both just want to know if this is the right fit for a person and an organization.