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Editorials

Interviewing candidates made easier by imaging you’re on a plane or in a bar

by Nanette Gregory, Sr. Partner
NSG Consulting Inc.

Everyone is typically little “uncomfortable” or on edge in an interview because everyone wants to be the their personal best.

Yet---“Uncomfortable”--- often leads great talent never taking the position or bad hires that leave or you in six months.

How do I know?

After many years of business experience I have watched top talent reject offers from companies or get fired pretty quickly. When I have talked afterwards with the candidate about the rejection of the offer. They often tell me it was a direct result of the last interview, they just could relate to the team or felt that the executives did not understand their goals and needs.

So, I started paying close attention to successful interviewers and those that were not. I found if an executive knew how to be “comfortable” during the interview —there was much higher chance of getting great talent to say yes to the offer and stay at the company for years.

The solution to get to “comfortable” ---

Forget it is an interview!

I encourage executives to put themselves in mindset this is only a “get to know you session”---nothing more, nothing less.

How can you get to that mindset?

Image yourself sitting on a hotel barstool after a long business day or next to someone on a plane.

View on an airplane

Talk to the candidate just like you normally would with any stranger sitting next to you in these setting. And most importantly don’t sit across from each other. No one likes staring at each other and only tends to make everyone nervous--- it is like you are back in school sitting in a principal’s office.

Ask questions to get to really get to know the person—not the interview questions that you read or thought you should ask.

Don’t over think the questions. Initially, talk about current events, weather or the trials of traveling for business. Then let the conversation take its natural course. It should become a dialog---both sides are answering and asking questions.

If the conversation is going nowhere--- you have to figure out why.

Maybe they are holding back. You need to begin to pay closer attention to their verbal and nonverbal clues.

Man sitting in the mountains

Did they stutter/hesitate when answering a question or do they look like they are someplace else? Then we have to be really BRAVEand ask what is really going on.

You can say something like: “Tell more about XXX.”

Have they leaned back in the chair, touched their head in someway. Again, they are holding back something. It is our job as the interviewer to ask them to open up in a sincere way.

You also need to figure out if the reason if they are not opening up is because you’re holding something back.

It could be something like---- the last quarter has been bad for the company or we just interviewed someone great but we wanted to make sure so you brought your #2 pick in to compare.

If this is the case--- then most likely the prep for the interview was not complete.

Executives need to be able to discuss the company and opportunity with confidence.

How can we be confident even if it is bad news?

Practice, practice, practice --- You should talk about these tough issues with trusted family members, team member or other company executives’ way before you start interviewing. You will need to watch their reactions when we explain the good and ugly. Do they look confused or give you the look like this is bullXXit? Then you need to refine your answers and practice some more.

I am sure if you have read this far you are probably asking yourself but if I forget it is an interview--- how will know if they are right for the position?

Even though the conversation flows naturally ---- You will still learn all about their previous experience, why they want to leave the company they are currently employed at, what salary /pay will you need to offer them, their dreams, goals, weaknesses and so much more.

You will also have plenty of opportunities to tell them about the company, the job opportunity, your expectations for the employee and everything else you want them to know before coming on board.

If you follow at least some of this advice--- you will have a much better chance of really determining if the candidate is right for the job and your company. And the candidate will more often than not take the offer when you present it to them.

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