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25 Years of Interviewer Training

INTERVIEW EDGE • DEC 2007

We've seen a lot of changes in our 25 years of providing cutting-edge interviewer training to professionals all over the world. The business day has stretched from 9 to 24 hours. Candidates have morphed from sweaty-palmed novices into highly-coached pros. And interviewing has finally been recognized as a critical leadership skill. But as much as some things have changed, others—unfortunately—have stayed the same.

We offer a quick look at some of the greatest changes—and challenges—of the past quarter-century and how we've responded to them. We also note a few practices and beliefs that we think could use improvement.

What's New

Talent. Worldwide, the growing shortage of smart, educated, motivated candidates who are a good organizational fit has highlighted the need for improved interview strategies.

- We've created the Interview Funnel™ model, and tailored new questioning techniques to a more diverse workforce so interviewers can understand and assess individual differences in a more objective way.

Internet. Along with everything else on the planet, the Internet has revolutionized hiring practices. Because a huge number of job opportunities are available on a 24/7 basis, disappointed new hires can move on quickly to something else. Also, candidates can find reams of insider advice on how to prepare for a typical behavioral interview.

- We offer unexpected and opportunity-based questioning techniques for savvy candidates. Unexpected questions are a way to see how candidates "think on their feet."

- Opportunistic questions convert the answer to the last question into a new question, thereby drilling down further and also minimizing the possibility of rehearsed answers.

Millennials. The Millennials bring much sought after skills into the workplace along with new expectations about balancing work and personal life commitments.

- Interviewers need to understand Millennial attitudes and use questions to probe motivation. They can also learn to tailor their interview to engage the Millennial candidate.

Authenticity. Candidate authenticity (read: honesty) has sadly declined, and there is a growing willingness among job seekers to pad their resumes and fudge answers in an interview.

- We teach our clients how to protect themselves from these trends without creating a negative or stressful interview experience.

Speed. Today, business gets done at warp speed.

- Our one-day interviewer training program can be delivered in a half-day version or tailored in other ways to meet client needs. We also deliver interviewer training through our website in a 2-hour, self-paced program. And we provide 24/7 online support for a year to all seminar participants with our HirePath® Tools.

What Needs Improvement

Context. Many interviewers still don't realize that people organize their memory by their experiences, not their competencies. That's why "Give me an example ….," type questions come out of the blue, provide no context and actually encourage shallow or fabricated answers.

- You can have a conversational interview and generate more authentic answers when you create the right context and time frame for the candidate to answer your questions.

Listening. Some interviewers still do most of the talking and miss the chance to follow the last answer with a question that drills even deeper.

- We believe that the best questions often come from the answers that precede them. Effective listening is key.

Totality. When a team interviews a candidate, we still see individual interviewers focusing only on certain, targeted attributes. This means that no one interviewer gets a complete picture of the candidate. They also miss undisclosed weaknesses (e.g., candidate is ambitious but not a team player).

- Each interviewer needs to learn enough about the total person to be able to predict future on the job performance and behavior.

Strategy. Some interviewers still hope to find a few "magic bullet" questions in an effort to play "gotcha" with a candidate. Or, they rely on a list of uncoordinated questions that don't involve a strategic approach.

- Interviewers should cover a range of topics or time periods to get repeated examples and patterns of behavior. They need to conduct an interview that reveals both the breadth and depth of the candidate.

Untrained. Every school teaches students how to take an interview, yet none teach how to give one. Each year, college grads, new MBAs and lawyers show up at work with no formal training in how to interview effectively.

- For 25 years, interviewer training has been our passion and the exclusive focus of our business. We put the interview advantage back on the client side.

We thank our clients for contributing to our success and welcome the opportunity to help both old and new clients keep their edge with Effective Interviewing!®