Your Role and The Interviewee’s Role in the Interview

John was researching how to do a good interview, she realized that she had two parts to her role.

Assess the candidate, This means to figure out can the person that she’s interviewing, the candidate, do the job? Will the candidate fit into the team? This has a lot to do with the culture of the person and the team that you’ve created. Will the candidate actually help you grow? They say the only reason companies hire is to help the company increase revenue or decrease expenses. I think that definition is a little too tight. But if you’re hiring somebody, it’s probably because you need help with growth, whether it’s company growth or product growth. Assessing the candidate could mean that you’re looking for someone who would work well with customers and prospects. This isn’t always the case. Sometimes, when you’re looking for a new technologist, you’re looking for someone who can do a very technical job and you’re not really going to put them in front of customers or prospects. But if you might put them in front of customers or prospects, make sure you’re assessing whether they would work well with them. How do we do these things? Well, we use smart questions. We also use the conversation to figure out how they might act or react in a stressful situation or with questions that they really don’t have an answer to. We try and understand their experiences.

Hopefully, we get those in the form of good stories. As you know, working on a team that solved a problem is not the same as being the person who really solved the problem. If you need someone who solves the problem, make sure you’re digging deeper in your questions to really understand if their experiences matches what you need. As you assess the candidate, you’ll observe more than just what their answers are. What’s their body language telling you? How respectful are they to you or others in the room? How do they talk about other people? Talking negatively about other people could be a red flag. If in this situation, where they should be on their best behavior, they’re talking poorly about other people, imagine how they would talk about other people including your own team in a more casual setting. The other role that you have as an interviewer is to sell the opportunity. This means that you’re selling the project, the team that the candidate would work on, the company, the perks and even their contribution and their ability to impact. A lot of people are looking for that kind of fulfillment in their career. Did you know that as an interviewer you would become a salesperson? How do we do this? You do this through preparation. If you’re not prepared for the interview, it will be obvious. I remember one time when I had a day full of technical interviews in front of me. Of course I was busy, I had a lot of stuff that I was taking care of. Having a day full of interviews was intriguing and maybe it was going to be fun, but I had a lot of other things that I needed to wrap up before I could go into the first interview.

How did I prepare? I went on the Google, I searched for about five minutes for interview questions, printed those out and walked in the room. I think it was pretty obvious that I was not as prepared as other interviewers. Something as simple as being prompt. Have you ever sat in the waiting room of a company waiting for the person to interview you? If you’re there early, you’re expecting to wait. But I don’t expect to wait 20 or 30 minutes after the agreed upon time. If you’re going to be late, try and send a message to the person to let them know that you’re running late. Disrespect sends a simple message that you care about them and their time. You’re also selling these opportunities through your own body language. What’s your attitude and what’s the vibe that you give off? It’s easy for the interviewee and other people in the room to catch onto that. If you don’t believe in the opportunities, you’re not going to be a very good salesperson for those opportunities. Another way that you can sell the opportunities to the candidate is through your experiences and stories. For example, if you had a great experience with the company, company owner, other bosses or just something that you saw the company do for one of the employees, feel free to share that. This is your chance to share why this job is such a great opportunity to the candidate. The more real you can make it through your own stories and experiences, the better you might do selling the opportunity.

Let’s compare the candidates or the interviewee’s role to what your role is. The interviewee’s role is to sell his or her skills. This is their time to really convince you that they can do what they said they did on their portfolio or resume. If you want to get into the nuts and bolts of how good they are, they should be prepared to share that. They should also try and sell you on how they would fit into your team and your culture. Another thing they’re there to do is to learn more about the role. It’s common knowledge that most job descriptions are poorly constructed. This is a great opportunity for the interviewee to ask you about certain things in the job description or things that were left out that they thought were important. Aside from selling themselves, they want to assess whether this is going to be a good fit. They’re wondering if you’re going to be a good boss and if you’ve created a good work environment where they want to spend part of their career. This is a time for them to show that they’re driven; they’re ambitious; they have leadership, if that’s what’s required; they can work well in a team.

So they’re here to sell, learn, assess and show. How do they do that? Well, hopefully, they do it with stories. Stories are such a powerful way of saying, “Yes, I’m qualified. “I can do this. “In fact, I’ve done something like this before. “Let me give you an example of when I’ve done it. ” They also do it through concise answers. If you ask a specific question, the candidate shouldn’t go on and on talking about things that are irrelevant to the question. If they do, that’s a good opportunity for you to observe how they might communicate with other people. Interviewees are also trained to ask you thoughtful questions. Hopefully, these aren’t questions that are really obvious on your company website or by doing a few minutes of research on Google. Let the thoughtfulness of their questions help you assess their ability to do well in the role that they’re interviewing for. They also sell, learn, assess and show through their choice of words, their body language and how kind they are to people. In my interview notes, I’ll ask the person at the front desk how that person came in. Of course they’re going to be nervous, but that doesn’t give them permission to be rude to the person at the front desk.