Three Steps in Conducting a Great Interview: Part Three

Previously, in Steps One and Two, we covered the importance of preparing for the interview and then actually giving an interview.  So far, we’ve discussed several things to make sure you do and say in the process.  In this third and final step of giving a great interview, however, we want to talk briefly about a few things to steer clear of.

Step Three: Knowing What to Avoid

Given that job interviews are expected to be professional by nature, it would be assumed that everyone would avoid certain missteps when conducting an interview.  Unfortunately, that line sometimes gets blurred, either by the candidate or the interviewer, or both.

Some things to avoid when giving an interview include:

  • Humor.  You may be a very funny person, but humor is one of the most subjective elements of human personalities.  What may seem like a quaint, innocuous joke to one person, can easily be viewed as inappropriate by the next person.  For the sake of your interview – and in some rare cases, your own job – focus on the task at hand, and save your jokes for another time.
  • Long introductions.  While it might be tempting to pen up with lengthy, detailed introductions, and a meticulous overview of what you hope to accomplish, you may be jeopardizing the interview itself.  By giving away too much information at the top of the meeting, you might influence the candidate’s answers or behavior.  Most of what you may be tempted to share at the beginning of the interview can just as easily be shared at the end.
  • Simple-answer questions.  Avoid asking questions that can usually be answered with a succinct “yes” or “no”.  For obvious reasons, your aim here is to draw the candidate out, and to extract as much of the real candidate as possible.  For example, instead of asking “How long did that position last?” perhaps try, “What led to that position lasting as long as it did?”
  • Questions with built-in answers.  These are questions that, when asked, will give the candidate a pretty good idea of the kind of answer you’re looking for.  Worse yet, it can sometimes be difficult to guard ourselves against asking them.  This is yet another reason to specifically write out in advance each question you plan on asking.
  • All the usual no-no’s.  And of course, there are all the usual questions to avoid; topics that deal with the candidate’s age, race, color, national origin, gender, religion, sexual orientation, health, disabilities, marital status, personal life, and so on.  Then again, in your position, you already knew about all this.

There’s your high-level look at the dos and don’ts of interviewing.  Do your homework, stay on task, skip the off-limits stuff, and you’re on your way to hiring the right person (whether short term contract or long term employee) for your organization.

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