Interviewing Prowess: A Necessity in Acquiring Top Talent

February 28th, 2013

In assessing the world of talent acquisition and what makes it tick, not only is the last blog post – Planning the Interviewing Process important, but also conducting a telling interview with a plan surely increases the odds of predictable candidate performance.  Interviewing experience doesn’t add up to interviewing prowess if the interviewer isn’t trained and practiced in the art. In the case of interviewing, “the way I have always done it” equates to hiring based on luck with plenty of inconsistency. One good hire, one not so good, one bad hire., etc. Starting with a fresh approach, effective training and realistic practice is a prerequisite to conducting a successful, informative, non-assuming interview.

There are hundreds of articles, books, and programs in the market that prepare interviewers and interviewees to conduct successful interviews. Having a blueprint and proven method that works is a necessity for top-notch companies and organizations that desire predictable hiring.

Let’s start with the basics. There are five areas to focus on when you’re interviewing any job candidate:

  1. Depth of Experience. What previous experience /competency does the candidate have in regards to the specifics of the open position?
  2. Position-Related Competencies. Do they have documented abilities and past experience related to the subject matter expertise required to excel in the role? Do they have the proven ability to learn new skills? Are they high caliber and quick studies? Can they scale?
  3. Track Record of Success. Have they demonstrated past performance and success? Handled tough situations or projects? Promotions? Can they give examples of repeated and consistent successes?
  4. Accountability. Do they have a record of substantiated responsibility and repeated delivery? Are they articulate when discussing examples and able to handle drill-down questions about them?
  5. Cultural Behavior. Does the candidate’s personality, strengths and weaknesses, cultural competencies, and personal attributes align with the corporate culture? Are they adaptable? Are they a cultural fit?

Planning the interview and asking these types of questions saves time on both sides of the desk and gives both the hiring team and candidate a perspective unreachable without defining the targets to be covered. Interviews are about specifics, with the goal to hire the best candidate available in the market with the applicable competencies to do the job, not simply a candidate who can do the job. Defining and evaluating candidate performance, caliber, communication, pedigree, etc., is key to producing a successful hire. The evaluation of candidates based on interviewing skill and job-related buzzwords leads to inconsistent hiring and unpredictable candidate performance.

The responsibility lies with the interviewing team to draw out the candidate, provide them the opportunity to communicate (with as little pressure as possible on the first interview), and compile the information received from the candidate. As the candidate feels more comfortable, the intensity can be dialed up (2nd interview). It is absolutely necessary to ask the candidate pointed questions and allow time to discuss those questions, really paying attention to allowing dialogue. If the interviewer(s) talk too much and question too little, the candidate is never appropriately vetted. And most of the time, those interviewers have undocumented, assumed, and unfounded opinions that deter from adequately assessing the candidate’s strengths/weaknesses.

Like anything else, the best interviewers are trained and practiced. Michael Jordan had an 84% free throw shooting average during his career. What would it have been without practicing? Best of Breed companies in Talent Acquisition let go of interviewing egos (“I know how to interview.”), learn to interview by training and practice until proficient.

At Honer and Associates, we’ve specialized in talent acquisition for over 30 years. Helping companies achieve the talent acquisition results they require to grow, prosper, and “do more with less” is our trademark.  To discuss this topic or others necessary to hiring and retaining the best, please feel free to contact us at your convenience.