Does conducting an interview fill you with dread? Or do you relish the back and forth exchange, upping your game with each subsequent question so that you can weed out the B-players? To say a great deal rests on the success of the interview is an understatement. So how can you improve your interviewing techniques and reduce hiring mistakes?

In recent months, there have been a few new buzzwords on the interview scene. The first, the Reverse Interview, is a technique designed to put the questioning power in the hands of the candidate, rather than the interviewer.

Once the interview flow begins you [the candidate] must take “charge” of the process and segue into asking the questions that you have formulated as a result of your research of the company materials and how the initial conversation has gone… — Demystifying “Reverse” Interviewing

Negative Reverse, Reverse Interviewing

It’s all about asking questions.

For this technique to be successful, the interviewer says very little and gives the floor to the candidate. This goes against an interviewer’s natural instincts because the traditional question-answer format seems like the quickest way to assess a candidate’s viability. However, organizations can learn much more about a candidate’s value to the company by letting them direct the conversation, organically share experiences and skills, and ask insightful questions demonstrating their interest level.

A less well-known approach is utilizing a sales technique the Negative Reverse, a strategy which comes from the Sandler Sales Methodology, is commonly used within the Sales world. It’s implemented when a prospect gives vague and evasive answers meant to imply ‘no’ without actually saying it. It’s a polite way for a salesperson to push back in order to get a clear response, giving them direction on where to go next.

Negative Reverse Selling comes from Sandler’s Reverse Selling. Reverse Selling is a strategy of responding to your prospect’s question with another question. A rep does this three times, to better understand the prospect’s motivations or needs. For example, if a prospect asks, ‘Could I have a discount?’ the rep would respond with, ‘What price did you have in mind?

The Negative Reverse concept is extremely useful in hiring. After all, aren’t you selling a job and your organization in an interview? This two-pronged approach of Reverse Interviewing and Negative Reverse increases the chances of a better hire.

Employers benefit because the Reverse Interview demonstrates a candidate’s level of interest in a particular role. It also shows how well they understand the organization’s processes, structure, and culture. Additionally, the interviewer can get an inside peek the candidate’s mind. Their “guard” is naturally down when they are leading the interview rather than having questions rapidly fired in their direction. One interviewer shared an experience where a candidate asked if he could “disappear on Fridays to play golf.” Not the kind of attitude you want a new hire to have before they even walk in the door.

Throwing in Negative Reverse techniques allows interviewers to retain some control over the direction of the interview. Follow up and clarification questions push candidates to be specific with and expand more on their answers. Using the Negative Reverse helps the interviewer understand the motivation behind a candidate’s responses.

The Reverse Interview and Negative Reverse power combo benefits candidates, as well. First, it gives them the opportunity to fully evaluate the role. Knowing what they are looking for in a job, they can tailor their own questions to find out if the organization and role will be conducive to those goals. Secondly, this less formal interview style is more comfortable for a lot of (prepared and sincere) candidates. Directing the conversation gives them the power to ask leading questions and offer up answers which spotlight what they have to offer.

There’s no doubt hiring can be a tricky (and costly) business. Making the wrong hire will cost an organization in both time and money. While making the right hire can take a company to new revenue and production heights. Mastering the art of interviewing is a key component to making the best hire. Changing up your interview strategy to include Reverse Interviewing and Negative Reverse techniques will help you achieve that goal.

Hiring/Executive Recruiting