The #1 problem we find when connecting with organizations looking to retain our services is that they often work back assward – especially when it comes to the interview.

Companies invest in training their employees on everything from SOX to the proper way to complete a timecard. They provide continuing education to ensure compliance with the laws of their industry. The more progressive organizations even cross-train their team in order to provide them with a wider range of skills, increasing their chance of mobility within the company.

Unfortunately, most invest zero time in training their hiring managers on the most important step in hiring talent: Effective methods of interviewing!

So, after 25 years of hiring and managing staff, I have developed the 6 key components of Effective Interviewing.

The 6 “BE’s” of an Effective Interview

BE Prepared    BE A Good Listener    BE Inquisitive    BE Specific & Site Example    BE Energetic & Enthusiastic    BE Yourself

Candidates and Hiring Managers: Do your homework and prepare for your interview.

BE Prepared

No matter which side of the interview table you’re sitting on, preparing for an interview is of the utmost importance. Candidates must study a variety of intelligence regarding a company’s business strategy, press releases, and details about their management team.

As a hiring manager, it is important to spend time reviewing the position, the skills you are seeking, the long-term opportunities, and the current culture of your department. It is your duty to review the candidate’s resume prior to the interview. I have experienced many failed interviews resulting from a simple lack of preparation. The biggest surprise for any candidate is an interviewer that has obviously failed to review the candidate’s credentials. In some cases, the interviewer is completely unaware of the position for which the candidate is interviewing!

Likewise, there is nothing more unimpressive to a hiring manager than a job seeker who has failed to read the job description or who lacks an understanding of the company’s core business.

BE a Good Listener

Hiring managers should spend 75%-80% of his/her time listening.

As a candidate, one of the worst offenses you can commit is constantly interrupting the interviewer. This demonstrates your lack of listening skills and calls into question your ability to manage a team and communicate effectively. Bring a notepad to take notes and write down questions as they arise. Before asking a question, determine whether this is the most appropriate time. With some patience, perhaps the interviewer will answer the question on his own.

BE Inquisitive

Having read the job description (candidate) and the resume (hiring manager), both individuals arrive at the interview with a very basic and purely academic understanding of the other – nothing more.

In-person interviews provide both parties an opportunity to discuss the true substance of the position. The candidate will learn the company’s culture, prospects for growth, hiring management’s expectations, and the makeup and tenure of the department. The hiring manager can delve into the candidate’s accomplishments and direct contributions to the company, technical capabilities, and communication skills. Remember, the worst time to discover your candidate isn’t a fit is after she starts working for your company!

BE Specific & Cite Real Examples

Hopefully, we have all heard about the current trend in screening talent: behavioral interviewing. This is a style of interviewing based on asking situational questions such as “Tell me about a time when….” or “Give me an example of a situation in which you…”

Oddly enough, one of the best way to develop interview questions is to work backwards. Identify what made the previous employee successful.

  • What issues did she face during the past year and how did she respond?
  • What is the pace of the department?
  • Do they work long hours on a regular basis or just at month end?
  • How did she handle multiple tasks being thrown at her?
  • When she did not respond well to difficult situations, what type of response would have been ideal?
  • How did the expectations change when you made an acquisition and how was this position affected?

These represent just a few examples of the scenarios your new hire will encounter. Use them to your advantage by translating them into behavioral interviewing questions.

As a candidate, the most effective way to demonstrate your experience and showcase your talents is to provide specific examples of your accomplishments. Once again, this cannot be accomplished without properly preparing for the interview. Ideally, the examples you cited on your resume are the same examples you will use during the interview process. Identify your role in each accomplishment, the challenges you faced and how you overcame them. Most importantly, describe the outcome and how it benefited the team, department and company. A word of caution: do not take credit for successes that resulted from the contributions of others! At some point during the process, your exaggerations will be discovered!

BE Energetic & Enthusiastic

Every candidate wants to stand out in an interview. A positive attitude and an enthusiastic demeanor cannot guarantee you a job for which you are under qualified. Demonstrate your interest and excitement during the interview. Your culture fit is as important as your technical fit. Hiring manager wants to hire someone passionate about the work.

Hiring managers must also express enthusiasm for the company and role. Top talent walks when it is obvious the hiring manager herself is unhappy. Who wants to work for someone who doesn’t like what they are doing? Moreover, the hiring manager is going to have a very hard time developing and promoting her people if she constantly displays the hardships of her position and omits the positive attributes.

Show why YOU are the best hire for the job.

BE Yourself!

Most important of all, Be Yourself! Give a true picture of you are to avoid a mismatched placement.  (*Note: Candidates, this includes the presentation of a truthful resume). There is always some degree of “selling” during the interview process. Avoid surprises and misaligned expectations by candidly discussing your work style and ethic from the very beginning.

Final Thoughts

A recent survey conducted by Leadership IQ indicated that 46% of new hires fail within 18 months. Nearly 89% of these new hires left their position due to a lack of culture fit. One of the best ways in which to gauge whether there is a fit is to conduct several rounds of interviews  involving key stakeholders like the hiring manager, peers, subordinates, other departmental leaders, and the hiring manager’s boss. Leveraging the perspective of several employees will help avoid emotional hires or turning someone down for irrelevant reasons. Ideally, the final interview should allow the hiring manager to observe the candidate’s conduct in a more casual setting.

The process of Interviewing and hiring new staff is not simple. Selecting the right candidate requires the consideration of many factors. In today’s labor market, the cost of making a mistake is higher than ever before – the average cost of replacing an employee is now estimated at 1.75x – 2.75x base salary. However, by adhering to these 6 guidelines, you will eliminate much of the guess work and greatly increase your chances of making a successful hire.

Download your copy of The 6 “BE”s of Interviewing