Introduction: Very often we see interviewee's scratching their heads to find a way, as how they can crack an interview. Get tensed Take Coaching’s Speak to elders and experienced people Take advices Read Books, Magazines...wherever they find some information as how to crack an interview
They just don’t want to leave any stone unturned in their preparation for the interview.
Art of Taking Interviews: Benchmarking Interviews
But, have you ever seen an interviewer to prepare for an interview?
Many of the interviewer’s don’t even care to scan through the profiles/resumes of the candidates, before sitting “Across the Interview Table”. Probably, they think that take interview is not a big-deal. Many interviewers just ask the questions as it comes to their mind, without even knowing the purpose of those questions.
Taking interview is an art and not everybody can take interviews. In this Presentation we will try to explore this art for the benefit of Interviewers.
What do you understand by interview? An interview is a conversation between two or more people where questions are asked to obtain information about the interviewee. Interviews can be divided into two rough types, interviews of assessment and interviews for information. So, do you think that you can take an interview of a person having more than 10 years of experience? I don’t think so. If a person is having more than 10 years of functional experience than you are just belittling his image, expertise and stature by taking his interview. At that level, it can only be discussion or interaction for mutual growth and benefit.
First Step: Before Starting the Interview * Prepare for the interview: Take some time to go through the profile of the candidate. * Try to understand his role and also prepare a list of questions that you like to ask. * Schedule your time. Don’t give same time to more than one person. Start the interview on time. If you think that you will not be able to start the interview on specified time then inform the candidate. Even if you have informed the candidate about the expected delay…apologize before you start the interview.
Environment for the Interview * Don’t take interview at a place, which is either too noisy or too congested. * If possible, put a tag “Do not disturb “outside your cabin or room. * Ensure that the lights are proper and the person sitting there is comfortable. * Record the proceedings of the interview, write it down.
Begin the Interview The candidate might think…Who are you to take my interview? Introduce yourself. Your Name Your Designation Your Total Experience A brief about your role in the organization Since how long you have been associated with your present organization.
Introduce the company that you are representing. How big is the company? What are the various interests and businesses of the company? How it has grown in last 3-5 years? What was profit after tax…in the last financial year? What are the future growth plans of the organization? Discuss about the profile/job opening for which you are interviewing the person sitting opposite to you. Specify the qualities and knowledge level that you are looking for. Also, care to inform him…why his resume has been short listed. What will be the Recruitment Process that you are going to follow? Lastly, approximately how many days will it take to close the position? Discuss about the career growth of the position for which you are taking the interview. What are the growth prospects? Don’t make false commitments.
Concentrate on following things : Now, smartly put the ball in his court by asking him to give a brief about his family, followed by his education. 1) His role 2) His span of control 3) Organizational Hierarchy 4) Major achievements in that particular job/ role. 5) Major Challenges that he has faced in his present job; in his career; in his life 6) Why he want to change his job and why he has changed his jobs in past? Appreciate him, when he discusses about his achievements. Make him comfortable and provoke him to speak as much as he can. Ask him about his strengths and his personal achievements. Don’t forget to ask him about his goals, aspirations…where he sees himself in next 5-6 years. What is his purpose in life? What are his dreams?
Closing the interview * Tell the candidate that it was a pleasure to talk to him and you are through with the interview, however, if he have any question; if he want ask or know anything…he can do that. * Tell him that someone from your team will get in touch with him for future course of action.
Conclusion During the interview…don’t frown at him. Carry a smiling face. In that interview cabin…you are trying to sell the vision of your company; the policies and procedures. Once the candidate is out from the interview cabin, he will be doing an advertisement for your company…Good or bad…choice is yours. Taking an interview as an Art; if you are expert, you can literally take anybody’s interview. For me the purpose or outcome of the interview should be, “Doesn’t matter whether I select the candidate or not; doesn’t matter if he joins me or not; but we should be able to stay in touch with each other”. That should be the impact he should have; that should be the impression that he should carry with him; that should be the pleasure he should be able to draw from that interaction.
Remember, while taking interviews...you are actually an unofficial ambassador of your company; you are representing your company; you are creating an image for your company and you are building a brand for your company. Doesn’t matter whether you select that person or not...unknowingly you are doing an advertisement for your company. If you are able to represent your company is a proper and professional manner he might join your company...if not now....might be in future. He might recommend you in his company or in his contacts but if handled in an unprofessional manner...he will not join your company and will tell others in his circle to not to join your company.
Interview Model A standard sixty minute interview be structured like this: Introduction (5 minutes) * Build rapport * Opening question Competency gathering stage ( 15-30 minutes) * Behavioral * Situational * Scenario/Role play * Probing Technical/Functional Skills (15-30 minutes) * Test candidate's specific job knowledge Closing (5-10 minutes) * Answer/Question on Aliens group * Company next steps * Sell when appropriate.
Types of Interview Questions The reasons that you interview is to get BEHIND the resume, to figure out what the person has REALLY done. The selection process requires separating what the candidates have done from how and why they did it. Behavioral interviewing is based on the premises that past behavior is the best indicator of future behavior and, therefore, if you can identify the job specific behaviors that are needed to be successful and you can find a person exhibiting those behaviors, you will be able to predict future success in a job. Research has prove that ‘traditional’ interviewing is a poor predictor of good hires. When an unstructured interviewing process is use, the odds are that a high percentage of new hires will fall short of management’s performance expectations.
Opening / Warm up Questions The introduction or rapport building section uses opening/warm-up questions to break the ice. Use an opening question to start the interview. Opening questions are used to cover a broad topic or time period in the candidate’s background. They allow the candidate to construct an answer and select information to share. Asking these questions is a great way to get the interview going, or to transition fro one topic to another. These are only a starting point – you must probe further for more information.
Some examples are; •“Take five minutes and walk me through_________” “your resume” “A typical day” “The primary responsibilities of your current job” “the highlights of your career” •“Tell me more about ______________” “why you are here today” “your role in your latest project” “Why you chose to go to that university” “why you find Microsoft appealing” The competency gather stage takes up the bulk of the questioning period during your interview. It utilizes the rest of the questions list below:
Behavioral interviewing has a specific style and approach. This approach relies on the use of opening ended questions versus closed questions that require a simple yes or no answer. Behavioral questions provide interviewers with a pattern of behavior or performance evidence to judge a candidate’s ability to perform the job. Remember: •The best predictor of future performance is past performance under similar circumstances •To look for answers which demonstrate that a particular positive behavior is long -standing
Sample questions that follow the behavioral approach are outline below: * “Tell me about a specific situation where you had to get something across to someone he or she found difficult to understand” * “Give me an example of a time when yo had to go beyond the call of duty to get a job done” * “Give me an example of when you had to show good leadership skills. How did the situation turn out?” * “Describe a time when you were faced with problems or stresses at work that tested your coping skills. What did you do?” * “Give an example of a time when you had to be relatively quick in coming to a decision. What was the outcome?”
Probing Questions: Asking probing questions enables you to continue asking for more information until you are certain that you have he entire answer from a candidate. Very few questions will give you good data if you don’t combine them with probing questions. Learning how to probe is probably the toughest and most important skill you will need to develop as an interviewer and is often the key to being able to make a good decisions. By asking some probing questions you can gather a lot of additional information that ensures a complete answer from a candidate. Having a question answered completely means:
• Understanding the details of the problem or the situation the candidate is describing. • Understanding why and how the candidate did what he or she did. • Understanding the results of the candidates efforts. • Understanding if the candidate has learned from past experiences. It helps to ask yourself questions as you are listening to the candidates answer: • Is the candidate recounting the details of what happened? • Does the candidate give you alternatives to what they did? • Does the candidate understand where their piece fits into the big picture? • Will the candidate act differently in the future based on what they have learned? Once a candidate has fully answered a question, you will be prepared to draw conclusions about their answers.
Examples of probing questions: By asking ‘What’ questions you can get information about a candidates skills and experiences. ‘What did you do’ ‘for your senior project?’ ‘when you had a tough problem to solve?’ ‘when you were presented with new material to learn?’ ‘in your last job?’ The most important questions are generally why questions .By asking why questions you can figure out if a candidate understands what he/she did. Asking ‘why’ questions allows you to challenge design decisions, watch the candidate defend his or her decisions, and think about the alternatives. Knowing the ‘whys’ also helps you to do a better job of making design choices and choosing the correct implementation.
‘ Why did you………’ ‘decide to implement what you did?’ ‘solve the problem in the way you did?’ ‘choose what you did?’ ‘not do things differently?’ By asking ‘How’ questions you can probe a candidates tactical skills and ability to work at Aliens. ‘How did you……..’ ‘use the resources available to you?’ ‘choose the project to work on?’ ‘decide to let the ship date slip?’
Additional examples of probing questions include: •‘Who…….?’ •‘When……?’ •‘Tell me more about…..?’ •‘That is very interesting .What would you have done if……were different?’ •‘Why was that the best approach?’ •‘What other ways did you consider to…..?’ Use this type of question to gather evidence of the candidates ability to handle a situation that is similar to situations they will encounter in Aliens work environment .This type of question can be approached two ways .Either you have the candidate solve a problem presented by you that they will encounter on the job, or you have them recount a similar problem they had solved in the past.
Sample situational questions are outlined below: • ‘Tell me about a time when you had to sole a really tough……..Outline the situation and walk me through how you handled it and describe the result.’ ‘technical problem’ Team problem’ Scheduling issue ‘testing issue’ • ‘Describe a situation where your manager…….What happened and what did you do?’ ‘wanted you to do several important things, and you knew you would not be able to get them all done.’ ‘took the credit for work that you had done.’ ‘asked you to pursue a solution that you felt was the wrong one.’
Sample situational questions are outlined below: • ‘ How do you think you had handle a situation if…….’ ‘someone disagreed with your recommendations?’ ‘you were asked to do something for which you did not have the right technical skills?’ ‘You were trying to confirm a decision , and your manager was not getting back to you?’
Scenario, case study or role play type questions In addition to behavioral and situational interview questions, a scenario, case study or role play approach gives candidates the opportunity to demonstrate skills that are critical to the position being interviewed for. Typically an actual business or customer scenario is presented and the candidates are asked to not only to outline the problem, but deliver an effective solution. As the interviewer you are trying to gauge the candidates ability to function under pressure, their analytical skills , business acumen and their ability solve problems that would arise on the job.
Case studies and role play questions require advanced interviewing skills- work with your manager to create this type of questioning experience .Examples of scenario based questions are outlined below: • As a support professional you will be dealing with difficult customer scenarios on a daily basis. How would you deal with an upset customer on the phone? What would be the first thing that you would do? How would you calm them down? Sometimes it works better if the interviewer role plays the irate or difficult customer to make the scenario more realistic and to get a better idea of the candidates conflict resolution and customer focus skills. • As an account manager , you need to set a meeting with the CIO of a large strategic customer for the first time. You set the meeting up to introduce yourself .You have 30 minutes on his schedule .What is your agenda for the meeting?
• During a meeting with a customer , the client tells you what they want to accomplish. They proceed to tell you how they want to do it technically .You disagree with their technical solution .How do you handle this situation? Look for their ability to listen and problem solve .The candidate should come to a resolution with the client on an approach they feel will be successful. • You are in a meeting and your team does not understand what you are explaining to them ,how would you handle this. Look for the candidate to explain it in a different way .Show them visually ,refer to supporting material ,past , similar projects .Look for the candidate to show creativity and initiative.
• You were working on a rush project for a client that your manager has requested you work on and your manager’s manager comes to you wanting another project complete for another client immediately, one that would take all afternoon and would jeopardize your ability to complete the project for your manager .What would you do? You are looking for the logic the candidate applies to such a situation – is it sound and reasonable? Ideally you would want the candidate to state that they would approach their manager regarding the conflicting priorities to seek guidance on which project should assume priority .We would want the candidate to seek input prior to trying to make a such a call independently.
The key to successful scenario questions: • The scenario has a context that is well explained to the candidate…setting the stage, outlining the situation or task and or explaining how this scenario is critical to being successful on this job. •The scenario needs to be somewhat general. So that they are not being evaluated or reading a specific spreadsheet and analyzing it within an unknown context. We are looking for functional skills that map to the job, not having them do the job right then and there. •We should not share confidential information or ask the candidate to share information of a confidential. If necessary, make sure they have signed an NDA .
Technical and problem solving questions At Aliens our interviews often contain questions that require a candidate to solve problems and demonstrate key skills important to the job .Some of these problems are technical, some involve analytical reasoning and some require a candidate to come up with a marketing design or plan .The goal should be for the candidate to display both the ability to solve complex problems and demonstrate the competencies required to be successful at Aliens. Good Technical and Problem Solving Questions: •Relate to the position and can be asked of all the candidates. •Assess a candidate’s specific knowledge about what they claim to know. •Allows multiple talents to be identified. •Have lots of layers and variations. •Build on a previous question and allows the interviewer to probe deeper. •Have multiple solutions .Some solutions should be obvious, follow up questions and hints should lead to other solutions where trade-offs between different solutions can be discussed.
• Use real –world problems that relate to the job. •Can be easily understood though not easily solved. Solutions can be written in reasonable time and space. When asking the same question , you may get different answers. •Produce different answers to help distinguish between candidates abilities and calibrate candidates. There should be good, better , and best levels of answers. •Allow the interviewer to check the algorithm design, coding and testing ability and allow the candidate to check their own work. •Focus on logic, not syntax, language, or tricks. •Actively engage both the candidate and the interviewer in working through the problem /solution together. I interviewer knows signs when candidate is off track and coaches when needed to get them back on track.
What to look for: • How the candidate approaches and solve problems, not getting the right solution. There are a wide variety of things that could keep a great candidate from finding a solution during the few minutes they have with you.. •Did they apply multiple strategies? •How they worked through the problem, solution oriented not if they got the right answer. •Did they identified when a strategy is not working? Are they able to step back far enough to get back on track? •Did they analyze their process and results? •Are they asking you questions to help them get on the right path, and do they listen to your hints? Less effective technical or problem-solving question may have the following components:
What to look for: • Requires specific knowledge •Answer is too simple or too hard •Question is not relevant to the job. •Question examines an area already covered by a previous interviewer.
Self Appraisal Questions: This type of questions provides insight into the candidates performance by asking the candidate to rate their performance in different areas. Candidates will typically be honest with you, but you should always ask for examples to support their own answers, and then probe for more details surrounding the different situations.
Some examples are: •‘What was your specific contribution to the success……?’ ‘of your project?’ ‘of your team?’ •‘What have you learned ?How would you have handled……differently?’ ‘the customer’ ‘the conflict’ ‘the delivery of the product or service’ •‘How effectively were you able to…….. ‘meet deadlines?’ ‘motivate your team?’ ‘resolve conflicts with other groups?’
Some examples are: •‘Why were you able to achieve high results……..’ ‘on your project?’ ‘with your team?’ ‘in school?’ •‘How would evaluate your performance……..’ ‘in that area?’ ‘on that project?’ ‘in situations which require you to….?’ •‘How would you compare….. to those of your current co-workers?’ ‘your coding skills?’ ‘the level of your contributions?’ ‘your persuasive skills?’
Some examples are: • ‘ How would you have…..differently?’ ‘designed the product’ ‘decided on the features’ ‘handled the conflict’ •‘How difficult was it for you to…….?’ ‘approach your co-worker with a problem?’ ‘schedule your own work?’ ‘complete the writing assignments?’
INTERVIEWING MISTAKES Mistake #1: Going with the flow Inexperienced interviewers sometimes fall into the trap of letting the interview become "free form", spending different amounts of time on different questions, basing follow-up questions on how the candidates answer. This can result in a candidate taking control of the interview and leading you where he or she wants to go, rather than where you can get the information you need.
Solution: Ask everyone the same questions. Prepare a list in advance, based on the information you need, and use it as a guide throughout the interview. Put each question on a separate sheet of paper and prepare one set for each candidate. As you move through the questions, use the appropriate sheets to make notes of the answers and your own observations and impressions. You can vary the follow up questions as necessary, but keep your notes on the main question page. When you have followed this structure with all the candidates, you'll be able to compare them on an "apples to apples" basis.
Mistake #2: Asking predictable questions Job applicants have many sources of help for interviewing, and it's easy to learn acceptable answers to the standard questions. That means even the wrong candidate for your position could answer the questions in a way that fools you into thinking he or she is a fit. Solution: Ask candidates questions that force them to expand on their answers, illustrating their thinking skills as well as their attitudes and job competencies .
Such questions might include: If you could design your own job, what would it look like? What's your favorite part of the work you do now? Why do you like that? Ask questions like these and, instead of practiced responses that tell you virtually nothing, you'll get insights into who these people really are.
Mistake #3: Whitewashing the job If you have a candidate in front of you who seems like a great choice, you obviously want that person to accept your job offer. Sometimes, though, you know the job has inherent challenges or downsides, and you may be afraid if you talk about these thing you will lose a good employee. The trouble is, if you hire them and they discover the negatives themselves, you may well lose them in the first week! Solution: Be candid about challenges in the job or within the company. Watch for candidates who embrace and relish the challenges, and who can see beyond the negatives. These can become your most valued employees.
Mistake #4: Ignoring the question of "fit" Every organization has a culture. It comes from a blend of the industry you are in, the ages of those who work there, the size of the company, the number of people, the geographic location and many other factors. But that culture creates its own work environment, and if employees are not comfortable with that environment or do not work well within it, they don't "fit". This person will never be an asset to your company, and may in fact leave very quickly. Solution: Ask questions whose answers will demonstrate the candidate's personality and character, their attitudes towards the workplace. An example of that type of question might be: Do you prefer a structured environment or a more loose, easy-going one? Why?
Mistake #5: Letting a candidate's one major positive blind you to the negatives Sometimes a person might have one outstanding positive: worked for your major competitor, attended a university with a track record of successful graduates, or even just comes from your home town. If you also instinctively like the individual, it is tempting to be overly influenced by this fact, and not pay enough attention to others that are not so attractive. Solution: When recording your notes on each candidate (see solution to Mistake #1), be sure to record negatives as well as positives on the appropriate pages. When you review your notes after the interview is over, you will be better able to balance the pros and cons impartially. Candidates are often sophisticated job seekers, who are well prepared for the interview. To avoid costly hiring mistakes, hiring interviewers must be equally prepared for the process .