Unmasking A Candidate – The Art Of Effective Interviewing – The 5 P’s Approach
Hiring a good employee to work for your organisation is a very tiring process. Organisations are constantly scrambling for talented staff and a good recruiter must be able to differentiate between a talented candidate and an incompetent one. The interview process serves as the best medium for uncovering the truth and satisfying oneself on the skills, competence or otherwise of a candidate. The interview process presents a small window of opportunity for asking questions, to satisfy oneself, to allay ones fears and to assure oneself that the candidate sitting across the table is ‘the one’.
It takes a lot of skill to be able to unmask somebody within the period of time usually allocated for job interviews. There is more to a person than meets the eye and as they say ‘there is no art to find the mind’s construction in the face’. A job interview provides a valuable opportunity for the interviewer and the candidate to learn more about each other. Both of you are assessing each other, for the recruiter it entails predicting more accurately how a candidate might perform in the specific position to be filled if given the chance, and for the candidate, learning more about the position and deciding if they want to work for that organisation.
Find below, my 5 Ps approach for interviewing. The objective is to provide you with techniques for conducting very good interviews that goes a long way to unmask a candidate and to have a clear understanding of what they are actually made of.
The first thing to do when conducting an interview is to plan. Draw a comprehensive plan on the whole interview process and decide on the format. Planning the interview process provides you with a framework for interviewing different candidates on a consistent basis and allows you to cover the relevant areas of the process. It also makes it easier for you to steady all the candidates, assessing them effectively and bringing them in line when they ramble whiles answering your questions. You can modify your plan to suit the specific situations as you go along. Planning entails interview room arrangement, location arrangement, and deciding on the interview process. What format do you want your interview to take, is it a question and answer process, will you conduct the interview by yourself or interviewing by a select panel? All these must be pre-arranged and you the interviewer must be clear in your mind what you want. Planning for an interview defines your goals and gives you an outline of the whole interview process. The best interviews happen in a setting where both sides are comfortable. You the interviewer must be able to control the interview and try not to make it a game of wits. Set the theme for the interview and take charge.
As with everything else, it pays to adequately prepare before an interview. Interviewing is an art form and must be studied. You have to prepare a list of questions to ask and the questions must reflect your objectives. Your questions must be able to draw answers that will satisfy you. Your questions must be open-ended must be structured well, ones that will elicit a more detailed response. Try to ask a good mix of questions, those that give insight into the candidate’s behaviour, elicit their opinion, demonstrate their experience, and reveal details about their background. Set out your objectives for every question and design counter questions to seek further explanation when your objectives are not been realised as they answer your questions.
You must study the resume of the candidates very carefully, go over the CV with a fine tooth comb and try to identify the anomalies. Reviewing a resume in front of the candidate smacks of disorganization and poor preparation. It is also very difficult to detect anomalies in a CV during the interview process; firstly it distracts you and disorganises your thought process. A well prepared interviewer is composed, asks direct questions and is able to identify irregularities in a candidates answer.
Interviewing is about probing and probing deeper. You need to satisfy yourself that the person sitting across the table is the one for the job, and you can only do that if you probe further. As stated above ask direct questions and counter questions that will probe into a candidate’s background, his likes and dislikes, his understanding of the job on hand, his approach and more importantly his suitability for the job. At the end of the interview you should have a fairly good sense of the person’s likes and dislikes, along with their strengths and weaknesses. You should also be clear in your mind if they are suitable for the job. Probing deeper will enable you to differentiate a good candidate from the charlatan. You can probe deeper if you set out your goals, take charge of the interview and control the interview, making sure that you are satisfied at the end, that the candidate walking out the door is the viable choice.
Closely related to the above is the need to be persistent. Listen to your instinct and persist on a particular line of questioning just to be sure. Try to find different ways of bringing out the truth and the true colour of a candidate. Don’t give up until you are fully convinced. If possible, request for further proof in terms of documentation and do some reference checking. You can even call the candidate after the interview and ask further questions. The flip side to being persistent is to look out for the persistent candidate. People naturally tend to be frustrated when you ask so many questions on a particular topic. The trick is to look out for candidates who take the pain to make you understand them deeper, candidates who persist to prove themselves to you.
Be patient, and try hard to uncover the candidate’s strengths and weaknesses. Being patient during interviews expects you to listen effectively and pay attention. Try not to reveal your immediate impression of the candidate through your gestures, expressions and actions. Be certain not to let negative reactions become obvious to the candidate and don’t give up on a candidate. You can write down your thoughts and observation but try to listen and understand what the candidate is saying. The key to effective listening is to do minimal talking. Try to establish rapport and as much as possible and go out of your way to make the candidate comfortable.
Hiring the right person for job can be very challenging; a job interview provides a valuable opportunity for you and the candidate to learn more about each other. An interview allows you to predict how a candidate will perform in a job situation and allows you to differentiate between potential employees. You can only get a full understanding of what a candidate is made of when you take the time to design a comprehensive interview process.