Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Interview the Interviewer

This is a subject and conversation that I have had with so many people over the years. With it there comes a lot of strong opinions from all sides stating their perspective on why/why not to do this, or how to approach it. It surfaced this morning in a discussion about why people will not take certain jobs, and the fact that a high powered engineer we were working with has been turning down job offers in this economy. Do people do that I was asked……the answer is YES and for good reason.

Turning the interview on its head is what some people call it. I get a lot of fear when discussing this subject, as most people discuss being uncertain of how they will be perceived when asking serious and in-depth questions surrounding the role. Logically, I think when people really look at it, there fears are crazy. Why would anyone go into an interview, discuss their capabilities and really leave there not knowing exactly what the role is.

Now I say this with caution, as the approach and how one is to do this becomes ever more important. In speaking to some managers, they cannot stand when they feel the candidate is attempting to take over the conversation and really run the entire process. That is not at all what I saying here and really do not want that to be the point of the message. The real idea here is to leave with a conscious understanding of the role, with explicit information, without the manager feeling like he got grilled. And I think there is an easy way to do this.

One of the reasons most people get caught in not know enough information is the format of the interview. The candidate answers questions, waiting for the 10 second time frame at the end where the manager says “do you have any questions” leaving the candidate not knowing which of the 50 that are going through their mind should be asked first. The key is to re-format the interview without upsetting the flow. Create the flow by making the interview conversational and asking questions, or follow ups to certain subjects the interview wishes to discuss - as the interview is progressing. Doing this will allow you to get details answered without ending the interview with the 2 minute jam as much down the manager’s mouth as I can session.

Interview flow - keep the interview progressing as any conversation. Asking and answering questions without taking over the conversation. Ensure to stay on subject, allowing client to get the information they need as well. They are interviewing you for a role. Do that and you will find it easier to leave the meeting knowing more, the manager knowing you, and the two of you knowing whether or not to continue the process.

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