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Richer Interviewing

Over my working life I have attended a ton of job interviews. As interviewee and interviewer.

While I see many ways the interview process can be improved I wanted to focus on one specific trend. Multiple interviews.

Decades ago when I interviewed for my first job there was one interview. With the person I was going to work with. That’s it.

Clearly today there’s need to spread the risk so companies make candidates go through many rounds with multiple people. (Rumour has it that at Google this can get well into the double digits.) Not only is this exhausting, but it is time consuming as well.

Again, I get that as an individual is joining an organisation, and not just a team, it is important to get different perspectives on every new candidate.

I don’t have a huge issue with that, but the way it is executed.

In my experience as an interviewee typically you meet a bunch of people who ask the exact same Qs. Not that the Qs are particularly incisive. They are the usual ones of  ‘ So why are you interested in this role’ or ‘Why are you best suited for this role’ or ‘What do you know about us’ kind of general Qs. (Google is a notable exception here as they can and do ask specific Qs)

So the same Qs keep getting asked and worse, important bits could get missed out because the interviewers are not talking to each other. Or the process is not scientific enough.

I think the interview process starts with the Job Description.

I believe the Job Description should contain two portions. One is the ‘Skills required/Responsibilities’ section as current.

To this I would add a column titled ‘Evidence’.

Here against each Skill Required one should fill in what evidence the company is seeking that proves that the interviewee has the requisite skill.

eg if a skill is People Management. Then evidence could be ‘ Managed interpersonal conflict’ Or ‘Let someone go’ or whatever the company thinks they mean by People Management.

When you go through this process companies may find that sometimes they are asking for skills that can have no evidence. This can persuade them to drop that ask and have a more focussed Job Description.

Hence at the end of the Job Description phase there is clarity on what is being sought and supported by what evidence.

Then this needs to be mapped against the interviewers. Based on their roles in the organisation or skill sets they are assigned specific portions of the Job Description to probe the interviewee and they are specifically looking for that evidence mentioned in the Job Description.

Have some areas of overlap. Only for those that are important so that different perspectives with different evidence can be gained.

Create suitable forms that interviewers need to fill up.

What an organisation will have at the end of the interview process is a clear idea of a person’s abilities supported by clear evidence from his/her experience visible to all.

From an interviewee perspective she/he gets the feeling that there is a proper interview going on that is checking for specific aspects from the Job Description and keeps her/him alert and interested by avoiding repetitive mindless Qs.

I believe this is where HR departments/Search Consultants can add huge value by driving richer more focussed interviews.

Given the amount of time we all spend on getting the right person or the right job in addition to how important it is to get it right, I think it is time to make the process tight and thorough for all.

I am happy to offer my services to anyone who needs it to bring it to life 😉

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  1. February 16, 2012 at 12:49 pm

    I interviewed for a job at Google a few years ago. They took five one-hour interviews with people from different parts of the world and a written test that could have held its own with the SATs to tell me that I was overqualified for the job.

    Another IT company we all know so well (not yours, the other one in my life), also put me through six interviews before saying ta-ta (this time for being differently qualified). But here I have to say – they were the most interesting and thought-provoking interviews I have ever done. Each interviewer came prepared with a different set of questions, and all of them except one stayed away from the cliched (and useless) open-ended ones. It was my first view of the organisation outside of their products and I came away thoroughly impressed. Much more than the storied Google.

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