Six Tips for Conducting a Great Interview

Business travel- it used to be such a glamorous thought. New places. Restaurants. Hotel rooms. Jumping on the bed when no one is looking. Impressing people by telling them all the places you have traveled or are traveling. But now that I am older and somewhat seasoned in travel, it has lost much of its appeal.

I just got home from Parker, Colorado where I was screening candidates for a new school. Many interviews were held in the lobby of the hotel and a few lessons were learned.

  • Don’t eat too much bacon at breakfast or you will crash in the middle of an interview at 11:15am.
  • If you don’t start with Attention Deficit Disorder at the beginning of the day, you will have it after eight hours of interviews.
  • The more you drink, the more you will have to excuse yourself during interviews!

Seriously, after years of asking people questions, I have a few tips that have helped me in interviewing that I would love to pass on to you. They are:

  1. Do Your Homework. As the applicant walks into the interview, you should have a fairly clear picture of their story through their resume, letters of recommendation, background and interests. Honor them by doing the legwork beforehand so when you meet them, you treat them as a valued human being.
  2. Renew Your Mind. If you have numerous interviews during the day, pause between each and clear your mind, focus on the new resume before you which represents a distinctly unique human being who has feelings, emotions, dreams, and deserves to be treated as the most important person regardless where they fall in the order of applicants.
  3. Have Fun. Within the first minute, I will attempt to put the applicant at ease with humor or a personal anecdote from reading their resume. Having fun in an interview often offers an accurate glimpse into the heart of the applicant.
  4. Keep It Quick. After reading Blink by Malcolm Gladwell, I have scheduled my interviews to last only about 15 minutes. Within those 15 minutes, I will get a strong sense in my gut if this person could be a good fit in the organization. I have found that it saves me much time and the results have been surprisingly accurate.
  5. Read Between The Lines. Besides listening, watch the applicant’s eyes, mannerisms, and body language. Keep a keen lookout for concise answers versus long, drawn out responses. Do you get a sense of coachability or a “know it all” mentality? Do your instincts tell you that you could trust this person? Is there true humility, compassion, and passion?
  6. Focus On Their SHAPE. Don’t take this wrong! We are not checking out the applicant’s physical dimensions. In The Way of the Shepherd, Dr. Kevin Leman outlines the acronym SHAPE. It stands for Strengths, Heart, Attitude, Personality, and Experiences. Even in a short 15 minute interview, you can get a picture of their SHAPE by what they say and how they act in those first few moments.

I will guarantee that if you implement these simple steps, you will likely have more success in the interview process. Getting the right people “on the bus” is one of the most important responsibilities leaders do to build a culture of excellence.

While every organization experiences growth and turnover, one of the best strategies to maintain stability is hiring the best people right from the start. And for me, the fewer times I have to travel for interviews, the better I like it! Happy interviewing!

If you have interviewed job candidates before, what tips can you add to David’s list? Thanks for sharing your input!

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