Employers and recruiters constantly tell job seekers that, in order to succeed in a job interview, one has to spend time preparing for the job interview. Research the company, hiring managers say. Read the job description and be ready to talk about it. The tips, for job seekers, are endless.
But those same words of wisdom also hold true for employers, recruiters and hiring managers responsible for interviewing. In order to get the most out of an interview, you have to prepare for the interview.
Debra Magnuson is Vice President of Talent Management for the Twin Cities branch of Career Partners International LLC, a company that works with employers worldwide to assess, engage, develop and transition talent. Magnuson is an executive and outplacement coach, leadership development facilitator, and talent management consultant. Her book, Work With Me: A New Lens on Leading the Multigenerational Workforce, was published in 2008.
Below, Magnuson offers five ways employers can get the most out of an interview, focusing on asking the right questions, listening to responses and reacting from the discussion:
1. Listen for value proposition
If you ask candidates to “tell me about yourself” listen for how they communicate their value proposition for the role.
“Look for people who can articulate, specifically, why they are a great fit for this job,” says Magnuson. “If they are too generic, and talk more about themselves than about how they will fulfill the needs of this job, watch out.”
2. Ask the right follow-up questions
Ask follow-up questions to get to how candidates will accomplish their goals. What they will do is useful to a point. The real action is in how they work.
3. Ask for specific examples
Ask for specific examples of experience and success when candidates tell you they’re good at something. For example, “One of my strengths is building relationships” should be followed up with, “tell me about a time that you built a strong relationship that was critical to you/your teams’ success.” “I drive for results” should be followed up with, “Give me an example of situations where you drove results, what your role was, and the outcomes of your actions.”
4. Have they researched your company?
Listen for indications that the candidate has researched your company, the job qualifications, and requirements. Is she/he able to talk about your products, values, and vision? These are usually easily found on the company website. Have they made an effort to understand your business and competitive environment?
“Candidates who haven’t done due diligence prior to the interview may not be the right fit,” says Magnuson.
5. Prepare for the job seeker to be nervous
Being nervous in an interview should not be a disqualifier. Accommodate differences in personality, communication style, and social presence.
“Introverts who are clearly nervous or uncomfortable may be the best hires you’ll ever make,” says Magnuson.
Unless the job is for an outward facing sales or customer service role, make the effort to put people at ease and look beyond outward appearances.
“Many great people are terrified of job interviews, and may not come across as their best selves,” says Magnuson. “Dig for the gold under the surface.”
Preparation also takes before the interview. Learn as much as you can about the person being interviewed. Go beyond the resume. Getting the most out of the interview also involves having the right people be a part of the interview. Make sure your panel, or people who are interviewing, are also prepared, and you work together as a team during the interview.
Employers ask job seekers to prepare for an interview. Job seekers want interviewers who are also prepared. Following these tips can help you make the most out of your next interview.