Better questions - Better candidates

Claire Vane
December 11, 2018

Everyone wants to know how to be the most successful candidate when interviewing for a new job role. Of course, one can take time to prepare, research the company well, and have a number of excellent examples of why you might be right for the role.

However, what often isn’t taken into account is the responsibility of the interviewer to find out who their best employee might be. A number of prospective candidates I’ve talked to have frequently mentioned several key issues that make it harder to prove they are the best candidate for the role.

The first one of these is not allowing the candidate to speak often enough.

Some consultancies/HR companies, including our own, are very insistent on the importance of the 80/20 rule. This means that the candidate should be talking for 80% of the interview, while the interviewer should be talking 20% of the time. This is something that frequently does not happen, and coachees have reported that this is an error that even big corporate powerhouses make.

Second, some interviewers keep referring back to a candidate’s CV, which may be an effective method of evaluation, but falls short in that the CV does not give you much of a feel for a candidate’s personality, or ‘soft skills’; indeed, it indicates a lack of preparation on behalf of the interviewer.

Interviewers can also often engage in an off-topic line of questioning.

Interviewers, in the short list and final selection stages for job roles, are often heads of department, but are not necessarily well-practised in areas such as selection interviewing. As a result, an interviewer may just have more of an ‘in-depth discussion’ with you, as opposed to asking questions directly relevant to the role; the result is then a frustrated candidate who has no opportunity to sell their strengths, and a frustrated interviewer who wonders why there is no evidence relevant to the role.

The optimal way to deal with these situations as a candidate is to be prepared for this happening.

It is also important to realise it’s nothing to do with you when you find yourself in that very situation. Something that is important for candidates to do in an interview, is to guide the interviewer back to a place where you can actively show you are the best fit for the role.  If an interviewer goes off topic, try to reference a part of the role specification, and use an example of how you have fulfilled this requirement in the past. The best way of giving a good example is using the acronym C.E.O, standing for Context, Event, Outcome. By using this process, you are able to give a detailed example, encompassing what you did, how you did it and what the result was. Finally, if an interviewer is not allowing you to talk enough, you will need to be bold and find a way to work in your example at the right moment.

Above all, preparation is just as important for the interviewer as for the interviewee.

If you’d like to discuss coaching for candidates, or selection interviewer training, do please get in touch.

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Claire Vane

Claire is the Managing Director and Founder of Integrated Resources. She is passionate about releasing potential in individuals and organisations.

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