Catching up by musing on effective interviewing skills

23 Jun

Sorry everyone, I’ve broken my home internet again, and I can’t do posts on my iphone so it’s been a bit sporadic for a girl who claims she is taking part in #blogjune Will play some more catchup today.

Lately I have been preparing for interviews for a new position here, and it’s reminded me that there are some aspects of interviewing you learn only after you have run an interview yourself.

For example, for some jobs, you want really well thought out answers in the interview process. In those situations it’s like the difference in assessment between an essay and an exam. It actually helps if the applicant could prepare answers to the questions in advance, although then of course there is the worry that the answers are not their own.

So I’ve tried a few different strategies

– 1) ask the applicant to prepare a short 5 min presentation on a case study or aspect of the role.
This is popular and I have had to give a few myself in interview situations. It allows you to have some scripted thoughts about what you could bring to the role, and it’s not long enough of the interview to be a problem if you take the wrong tangent.

2) Actually advise applicants of the questions before they arrive.

Best interviews I ever ran were like this. Job was for a 2nd level library assistant, and I told each applicant when I rang them to set up interview times, that there would be 6 questions, and the area for each question eg Managing difficult customers, time management, supervision etc

I often find that lending services staff are very practical, hands on people. Thinking about “how” they do something like prioritising is hard enough, without the added stress of an interview situation. Often they end up saying “I just do that and then I do the next thing” without having the time to think through the aspects they think important when establishing the urgency of a job.

So in this interview all the applicants had thought about what these topics meant to them. They gave examples that they had prepared without trying to make it “fit” into a unknown stated scenario.

3) Asking questions based almost directly on the selection criteria in the job application, and in that order. Then interviewees can extrapolate on the examples they wrote to you in their application, without panicking so much about remembering examples and then trying to make them “fit” appropriately to questions.

4) based on 3 really – I advise applicants when I book them an interview time that they should feel free to bring notes to the interview, and that they can pause and consult them at any period.

It works in well in the first section of the interview, when you introduce the panel and explain the interview process. I say that the panel are more interested in getting a relevant answer than a confident answer, so that if at any point an applicant wants to have a question repeated or rephrased, just to ask that member of the panel.  And to that can be added the statement that if the applicant wants to take time to consult their notes, this is appropriate.

So what strategies have you all used to improve the interviewing process?


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