Fine Tuning Those Interview Skills: Improvement Today Can Help Avoid Pain Later

By Paul Feeney Managing Director, Sanford Rose Associates - Wayne | February 22, 2010

If procrastinating is any guide, two tasks that most managers would rather do next week are hiring and firing. They are the yin and yang of the employment process - the bookends of too many people's careers - and the worse the hiring decision, the more likely it will lead to eventual termination of the person hired.

Central to a sound hiring process is the interview, which bears more than passing similarity to the performance reviews to follow. Both require analysis and introspection, some degree of planning, and an intense period of personal interaction leading to an outcome that will either delight or disappoint the other person. Moreover, interviews and performance reviews require skills that many people fear they lack and compete for time with the day-to-day demands of running a business. Last but not least, they require us to make a decision about someone's life. That's a heady combination.

Job candidates have a unique perspective on the interview, since it is their lives that are at stake. All too often, the feedback they provide to their recruiters is that the interviewing process stunk. For example, interviewers expressed no urgency in filling the position, showed little interest in the candidate and basically had him/her confirm r'esum'e information. That was not to mention starting an hour late or demanding to know the minimum salary the candidate would accept.

Because good interviews help ensure successful hires, they should be conducted with the same foresight and finesse that one would bring to a major sales meeting, union negotiation, security analyst conference or board of directors presentation. To paraphrase a well-known saying, an ounce of preparation is worth a pound of cure.

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