First, a few facts about interviewing:
- Hiring managers have a greater fear of making a bad hire than candidates will ever have in making a bad employment decision. The reason behind this fear is because when hiring managers make bad hiring decisions, it can have negative impacts on the company, their division, and even their career.
- Hiring managers are experts at managing departments or divisions and they’ve had years of experience in honing their skills. However, interviewing is something they do as a very small part of their overall responsibilities. Typically, only the larger organizations have formalized interview processes, so most hiring managers find themselves interviewing candidates by replicating how they were interviewed in their career.
- Hiring motivation and the influence of skill sets and cultural compatibility in the interview process is very important. I call this the 80/20 Rule. 80% Compatibility/20% Skill Sets. At the beginning of the interview, skill sets are important, but once the interviewer is confident that candidate’s skill sets will help drive value for the company then compatibility becomes the primary hiring motivator.
The most common interviews can be divided into about five types:
- Traditional: Scenario based questions
- Non-directive: Job or skill set questions
- Behavioral: Past history or performance based questions
- Case Study: “If this – then what” questions
- Presentation: Formal presentation on key topic
Regardless of the style of the interview, all hiring managers have three interview objectives or key questions to resolve during the interview and discovery stage.
- Does the candidate have the technical skills to be accomplished in the position in order to help the company drive mission critical objectives?
- If technically skilled, is the candidate a cultural fit? In other words, will they get along with management, peers and direct reports?
- If they are technically and culturally a good fit, are they interested in the opportunity?
Understanding the interviewing objectives of hiring manages is very important because most of the common interview styles (above) do not provide a natural step-by-step process to answer those objectives. Given the fact that hiring managers are not experts at interviewing, and most candidates are not experts at selling, the interview often times, becomes a meeting without substance. Helping a hiring manager walk step-by-step through the skill set, compatibility and interest objectives with a few timely placed questions, provides for a very informative interview. It also allows you the interviewee an opportunity to control the interview to positive outcomes.
Candidate Interview Prep Outline:
- Skill Sets
Objective 1: Highlight Applicable Skill Sets
Skill sets are the primary concern for the hiring manager at the beginning of the interview, and that quickly transitions to compatibility once the skills sets are identified. If you (candidate) can’t define your skill sets as it relates to the job, you’ll never get to the most important part of the interview – the compatibility conversation.
Candidate Positioning Question 1: Defining Skill Sets
I’ve researched the company and reviewed the responsibilities; however, please give me an idea of what you need accomplished with this position — say, in the first six months to two years?
This is an excellent question that requires the hiring manager to define exactly what needs to be achieved or accomplished in a specific timeline. This is the “short term and long term objectives” of the position. Once defined by the hiring manager, you (candidate) should give examples of where you have excelled in those skill sets in the past. (Give real life examples! Don’t just say, “I can do that.”)
I’ve been there and I’ve done that and here’s an example and here’s how it affected the bottom line.
I’ve not been there and done that, but I’m looking forward to adding that to my professional experience. (Then give the hiring manager an example where you had to quickly become the subject matter expert on other skill sets in the past.)
Objective 2: Highlight Culture Compatibility
As stated above, candidates should find common ground with the hiring manager, as they are always looking for qualified people to work with, they also want employees they enjoy working with. People who have the same passions, goals, and work ethics work well together!
Candidate Positioning Question 2: Communicating their Cultural Compatibility
As I’ve stated before, I’ve researched the company and position and I find it to be very compatible with my career goals. I would be very interested in how you would describe the company culture, and why you decided to work here?
This allows the hiring manager the opportunity to describe the critical factors they were passionate about the position when they accepted the position with the company. What they outline as “important” should be consistent with your career passion as well.
Objective 3: Communicate Interest in Moving Forward
Hiring managers rarely make emotional commitments or offers without knowing they will be received positively. Candidates should close the interview by letting the hiring manager know they are interested in continuing the relationship (even if they are not sure). It may take several interviews to discover all the facts about the opportunity and your goal as a viable candidate is to make the short list!
Candidate Positioning Question 3: Communicating Their Interest in Moving Forward
I am confident that what you outlined today is very consistent with my career goals and qualifications; I am very interested in moving forward, what is our next step?
Interviewing is easily one of the top five most important decisions people make in their lives. So it’s understandable that there’s an element of fear around interviewing. As a career coach for the past 18 years, I’ve participated in thousands of interviews and have observed that most of the fear (both candidate and employer) is centered around the “unknown.” Specifically the fear of not knowing what types of questions will be asked, or what key requirements are hard requirements or not remembering what you’ve done in your past that may or may not be noteworthy. However, if you’ve done your homework and have an informed idea of the short term and long term objectives of the opportunity, have practiced your success stories beforehand and are comfortable in “guiding” hiring managers through the discovery of Skill Sets, Compatibility and Interest benchmarks, interviewing quickly becomes an art.