The All Important Interview
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  • 1. Leading printing executives into the future The All Important Interview By Jerry Scher Published: October 8, 2012 In the 2nd article in this series (August 28 - Identifying and Selecting the Right Sales People – Objectively!) we described the three critical components required to successfully select the best talent - define and determine Eligibility, assess Suitability and the all-important Interview. While we recognize the weaknesses related to the lack of clarity when defining eligibility and the deficiencies in objectively assessing appropriate suitability characteristics and competencies, the absence of professional interviewing competence is the most troubling. It is rare, when questioned, that an executive, middle manager or supervisor will admit that they are skilled in conducting interviews. Too frequently, fairly common rules are broken when interviews are conducted and the ultimate cost is extremely high. "When you're talking you only learn what you already know." Purpose The aim of an interview is to engage candidates in a two-way dialogue so that you can further determine if the candidate is right for the job and if the job is right for the candidate. If the eligibility and suitability assessments have been conducted effectively in advance, than the interviewer should have meaningful insights into the candidate's potential. Too frequently interviewers spend the bulk of their time describing their company, the job and what they are looking for in an employee. While it is important to provide information to candidates and you want them to ask questions about the job, your primary purpose should be to learn and confirm everything you need to know to make a good hiring decision. In most cases when considering viable candidates you will conduct multiple interviews; unless they are eliminated from consideration early on. Frequently an initial interview will be conducted by phone or video and while you'll have some eligibility information from a resume, you most likely won't have suitability information to consider. Your goal should be to screen candidates at this stage and either eliminate them or move them to the next step. Make sure you document what you learn as well as what questions you asked and how they responded. Interview Basics If you are responsible for conducting interviews you absolutely must prepare for the task. Begin by studying the job and its' requirements. Review the job description, discuss the position with others that have first-hand knowledge of the position and make sure you know what/who you are
  • 2. looking for. Your research should include the eligibility requirements as well as suitability requirements that are necessary to predict desired success. Depending upon the level of the position, in addition to reviewing the candidates resume, you should do additional research with Google, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc. Today, technology provides a window into a candidate's past and this information can prove to be most helpful. Create a structured approach to the questions you will ask and prepare them in writing and in an appropriate, yet flexible order. Be prepared to ask multiple follow up questions to drill down or peel back the onion so that you gain accurate insights into the quality of the candidate. "If you are responsible for conducting interviews you absolutely must prepare for the task." As candidates move to the second level interview I strongly recommend a team approach. A panel of interviewers should be gathered and each interviewer should be assigned a specific area to focus on (i.e. past work experience, educational experience, special training, behavioral competencies and work preferences). While each interviewer engages the candidate the other team members should be careful observers, taking notes. As each section of the interview is complete, the observers should ask follow up questions. At the conclusion of each interview, the team should discuss their thoughts and suggestions. Interview Skills A skilled interviewer must possess an array of skills. They must be able to formulate and ask great questions – and have the ability to mix them up. They have to be active listeners and be able to ask great clarifying questions. One's ability to analyze information and connect the dots between what the candidate has done in the past, their education and how they can advance the strategies and activities of the company is crucial. During the interview your focus should not only be on the candidates background but also on determining the depth of understanding the candidate has of your industry, your business and what they can do to advance your strategies. If you are interviewing for a sales position, learn as much as you can about their sales and business development philosophy and how they have executed a selling strategy in the past. They should be able to describe how they built their business and what activities they engaged in that were successful. "A skilled interviewer must possess an array of skills." In addition to confirming what you learned about the candidate during your research/preparation you should be asking behavioral questions – questions that focus on the candidate describing how they solved a problem or addressed a challenge in the past. Carefully drill down to determine if they know exactly what they did and what worked and what didn't. It's not uncommon for candidates to take credit for an accomplishment that they may have assisted with but were not the primary contributor. So make sure you ask what role they played in the process. Situational questions where you describe a realistic situation and ask how they would deal with it should be asked. In cases, where appropriate, you can even assign a project in advance and see
  • 3. how they research, prepare and present their strategy. Remember, you are attempting to predict what kind of employee a candidate will be and you have to be creative in designing ways to accomplish this. Make no mistake, the more professional your interviewing competence is, the more professional your company will appear to candidates. And now a day, the competition for the best talent requires that you get your game on. Summary As you can see the interview component of the attracting, recruiting and hiring process requires a skilled professional. This is not an area to skimp on. Make sure you train your interview team so that you not only attract the best talent but you are able to hire them as well. If you would like more information about assessing eligibility, suitability and learning more about conducting professional interviews, please contact Jerry Scher at jerry@peakfocuscoach.com or 404-931-9291. You can also get information about the Harrison Assessment at http://peakfocus.harrisonassessments.com/index.html Stay tuned to this continual series – as we focus on how to design and implement an effective training program. Jerry Scher has been engaged in the graphic communication industry for over 35 years, Jerry's primary goal - make those around him more successful.
  • 4. PEOPLE. PERFORMANCE. PROFITABILITY. About Peak Focus, LLC People. Performance. Profitability. Peak Focus gives you the tools to grow, develop and strengthen your team. With a mix of resources that we’ve created ourselves, as well as several powerful tools we’ve carefully assessed and believe in, we combine our passion and experience to guide companies and individuals toward optimized performance. Select your team members with confidence, help your key players develop their soft skills, and learn how to coach your entire team more effectively by engaging the experts at Peak Focus. For more information and access to free resources, please visit our website at www.peakfocuscoach.com Engage With Us Free tools, resources & updates LIKE us on Facebook Check out our blog Follow us on Twitter Follow us on LinkedIn About What They Think? WhatTheyThink is the printing and publishing industry’s leading media organization; offering a wide range of publications delivering unbiased, real-time market intelligence, industry news, economic and trend analysis, peer-to-peer communication, and special reports on emerging technology and critical events. WhatTheyThink also hosts webinars and live events that are timely and relevant o today’s busy industry executives along with consulting and speaker services that leverage a talented pool of writers and industry analysts. www.peakfocuscoach.com Peak Focus LLC © 2008-2013 • All rights reserved. Unauthorized duplication in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.