In yesterday's post I wrote about the failings of interviewers, and later I chided myself: The whole post seemed so negative, I thought. I shared with you a lot of statistics on how poorly managers approach the candidate interview. All good to know, but what then?
So today, in the name of offering more productive fodder, I am sharing my musings on interviewing well.
Prepare. In preparing for an interview, it's critical to remember, in most organizations, that as CIO, you will be interviewing candidates pre-screened and presented to you by someone in human resources. Spend 30 minutes with that person before they post the job. You cannot expect the HR person to understand fully the nuances of the job-or even your job, for that matter: the way your team works and what role you play in the company as a whole. It's not enough to e-mail HR a job description and a brief summary of skills you're seeking. I know some HR-screening horror stories-in some cases the HR person didn't even appear to know what experience level the vacancy was for, asking entry-level questions for a experienced-senior role and turning off the candidate. Imagine the types of candidates an under-informed HR professional will present to you; are they what you want? More importantly, imagine the gems you may not get to know, the ones your HR partner screened out by asking the wrong questions. You definitely do not want this. Thirty minutes isn't a lot of time. Take it to spend some actual face-time with your buddies in HR. Help HR help you.
If you can, try to get formal training in interviewing applicants, even if it means you have to take it upon yourself to seek it out. The DDI survey I cited yesterday found that 80 percent of interviewers with formal training were confident that they made the right hiring decision, compared to 65 percent of interviewers with no training.
Sell your organization. Position it as a great place to work. Be professional. Make the interviewee comfortable.
Here's the thing: an applicant is not necessarily a supplicant. As I pointed out yesterday, job seekers' perception of an interviewer makes a difference in whether they take a job. You do not want to turn off a fantastic candidate and lose him or her to the competition.
Going back to DDI's study, here are some things that turn job seekers off in an interviewer: being unprepared, keeping them waiting, asking irrelevant questions, "acting like [the interviewer] has no time" for the applicant.
Listen. Here's what topped the list, cited by 43 percent of the job seekers surveyed: "Interview techniques are more like interrogations." I will spare you my rant on this and only remind managers that in an interview, you could be talking to a dream hire. Does it make more sense to interrogate or discuss the prospect of working together? John Kador, author of many books including The Manager's Book of Questions: Great Interview Questions for Hiring the Right Person, says it best when he tells me, "An interview, at its best, is a conversation."