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Conducting a Skilled Interview

Q. I have been through many interviews, and now my company wants me to interview people for a job in our group. I see lots of books and articles about how to answer interview questions, but not how to be a good interviewer. I really want to do a good job, so where do I start?

A. Candidates who interview with you will be very glad to go through the experience with a prepared interviewer. Being a prepared interviewer will also support the goal of trying to find the best candidate for the job in your group. Many people believe they can conduct an interview without preparation; what often happens is they will be able to discuss whether they like the person or not, but have no real information of consequence that describes the skills and competencies the person brings to the job.

According to Nancy Fulford, Director of Training at Camden Consulting Group, who provides training to managers on conducting productive interviews, ”[The] key to preparing for an interview is identifying the competencies in knowledge, skills and attitude which will lead to successful performance in the position. Knowledge and skill relate to an individual’s ability to perform successfully on a job. An additional success factor, attitude, deals with an individual’s willingness to perform.”


To prepare, think about the position for which you are interviewing. For each category, make a list of competencies you believe are essential to successful performance in the position. Meet with the interview team to address these competencies and reach agreement. Examples of knowledge competencies would include product awareness, account software, competitors or geographic area.
Skill competencies might be organized, learning agile, problem-solving, interpersonal, and written/oral communication. Examples of attitude competencies would include adaptable to change, resilient, comfortable traveling internationally and enjoys collaboration. Any set of competencies is designed about a specific role, and culture. Though similar or even the same competencies can be found in many organizations, the mix, and intensity is what makes the match rally work for a great hire.
With the interview team, divide out the type of questions and issues to be addressed so that the candidates have different and related questions. Their experience should allow them to feel they are interviewing for the same position, but are not having the same interview experience multiple times.
Using your prepared list of questions, listen to the response, jot notes that remind you of the theme of the answer, and do not hesitate to ask follow up questions for those areas of greatest importance as identified by the needed competencies.
Be prepared to answer questions from the candidate, and if you don’t know an answer, let them know you will make sure someone provides that information at a later time.
Following the interview, expand on your notes and discuss your assessment with the interview team or hiring manager. You may be asked to make a recommendation to pursue the candidate, or end the process. Be prepared to articulate your reasoning, and listen to the assessments from your colleagues to understand how they evaluate potential co-workers as well.

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