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The Employer and Employee Side of Job Interviews

Updated on March 29, 2018
George Mikituk profile image

George is an independent small business consultant and business owner with a mission to help entrepreneurs improve their management skills.

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View From the Employer's Perspective

Progressive employer interviewing combines planned questions, which are designed to get specific information, with auditions. Job interviewing is based on three components, to which an actual job trial is added . This method has been proven to yield much better hiring decisions:

1. Careful analysis of past behavior to predict future behavior.

2. Defining and using the critical evaluation process.

3. Selecting appropriate interview questions.

4. An audition.

Predicting Future Behavior

An interview must ferret out what an applicant has done in the past that will assist in predicting what behaviors may be repeated in the future. This part of the interview should prompt the applicant to describe in detail a past behavior which had a significant affect on their work history. This requires a specific situation, the action taken and the result of the action. Forcing the applicant to conjure up an actual situation, reduces the chances of false posturing. The final evaluation of the applicant should be focused almost entirely on actions which led to a positive solution.

Critical Evaluation Factors

The second component of the interview is built around critical evaluation: specific qualities, knowledge, skills or attitudes that the applicant must possess for the job. It focuses primarily on factors, which contribute to success on the job, and on overall ability to do the job. Its key elements are:

1. Job Motivation: Evaluate what has been particularly satisfying or dissatisfying to the applicant in their past jobs. You can then deduce how satisfied or dissatisfied the applicant might be working for your Company.

2. Work Standards: Defines whether the mindset and past behavior of the applicant provides a good fit with the Company, as far as work standards are concerned. It should deal with performance attitudes, cooperation with former managers, maintaining tight deadlines, and specific contributions that made a difference.

3. Initiative: Discovers how enterprising this individual is. Look for persistence and follow-up, suggestions made or procedures streamlined. See how much initiative the applicant took to correct errors. Look for evidence of creativity and imagination.

4. Stress Tolerance: Determines the conditions under which the applicant has worked best, and compares them to the conditions that exist in the company. Look for situations with temper control issues, and evaluate whether the applicant might lose their temper easily. Study the applicant’s approach to tight schedules, and whether they tend to use others as scapegoats for missed deadlines. Ask direct questions like “when did you last lose your temper”?

5. Supervisor Fit: Use a supervisor's profile that matches the person for whom this applicant will work. Listen intently for the applicant’s description of their previous supervisor. Scrutinize any incident described as a misunderstanding, or as management being biased or prejudiced towards them. Pry further into the issue until you discover whether the complaint is legitimate or a victimization syndrome.

6. Attention to Detail: Distinguish between a legitimate explanation and an excuse for past inefficiencies. Let them describe how it affected quality and customer service and how they corrected the problem.

7. Judgment: Good judgment is an important attribute, not only for managers, but also for the employees who work under them. The applicant should show an ability to recognize problems and to solve them. Have them provide examples of good decisions they have made recently, and what alternatives were considered.

8. Technical Proficiency: Determine how competent the applicant is in the technical areas, which are critical to the job that they are applying for. This calls for extensive, in-depth questioning, which leaves no room for guesswork. Ask them to break down procedures and processes used to perform specific technical tasks. Have them describe the quality control and waste management utilized in their past jobs. Let them provide you with details on any special certification, acknowledgments and citations, which they may have received for technical prowess.

9. Personal Impression: Pay particular attention to the initial and continuing impression you have of the applicant. Note their level of confidence throughout the interview. Evaluate (on a scale of 1–10) the ability of the applicant to create a positive overall impression in the company.

10. Audition: Many human resource managers in progressive companies are adding an audition to their interviewing repertoire. There are some applicants that have the ability to put on a good act and give the impression that they are a perfect fit for the position. Whenever possible, the final step should include an actual on-the-job evaluation. This could be of a short duration, or a longer period not exceeding 90 days. It is then essential to obtain feedback from co-workers and managers on cooperation, personality, performance, attitude, skills and abilities. This is the most effective test of all, but may not not applicable for all job environments.

View From The Employee's Perspective

As in all human interaction, the individual who is better prepared usually comes out on top. Many young people, who are exposed to the interview process for the first time, often find it traumatic and are susceptible to wilt under the pressure of intense questioning. Being Interviewed is not something that anyone does often, so it is always useful, even for those who have had prior experience, to prime themselves on winning techniques that have served others well:

1. Show them how you can fit – Use the internet to research the company to which you are applying for a job. Then show the interviewer how your education, knowledge, experience and skills fit with the mission, goals and objectives of the company. You can break this down into details by preparing a spreadsheet, which matches each of the employer's needs and your ability to fulfil them.

2. Check your negative body language – Be aware of the negative signals that body language can, inadvertently, send to someone who has a keen sense of their significance. Be conscious of such telltale signs as: eye movement, nervous hands or ticks, constant crossing of legs and leaning too far back or forward in your seat. These body movements may be viewed as a lack of confidence.

3. Control the verbalization rhythm- Speak in an evenly paced manner, and don't allow yourself to get caught up in a rant, which spills out unwanted and unasked information. Keep to short and precise answers, which shows control under pressure and command of the situation.

4. Be self-reflective – Bring up specific situations in the past that did not achieve the desired results at first, but with more analysis and thought were turned around. This does not have to be solely about your previous job, life changing decisions are also pertinent in this case. Everyone makes mistakes but not all learn from their errors.

5. Provide examples – Working well under pressure is a requirement for just about any job, and almost a certain question by an interviewer. Be prepared to offer several examples, which will leave no doubt that you have actually faced and solved problems under the pressure of time and budgetary restraints. The more details you provide the more plausible it becomes. The interviewer will be looking for hints of exaggeration and hubris.

6. Take a time out – Stop yourself from making impulsive remarks by asking for a moment to reflect on the answer. Try to quickly assess where the question may be leading, and provide an answer that is carefully thought out and worded. It may not be a perfect response, but at least it will have the benefit of forethought.

7. Look right – Provide an attractive external package of yourself by dressing appropriately for the interview. You achieve this by perusing the company's website for a clue of the company's dress code. Try and imitate the appearance that is projected on their company's visuals. In general, staying away from extremes is always a safer way to go.

8. Switch seats – Become the interviewer by asking well-prepared and probing questions about the company at appropriate moments. This kind of researched approach to the interview will always earn brownie points as long as it is not overly sycophantic. Find certain commonalities between your philosophy and that of the company's stated mission and strategic position.

9. Pay and benefits as an afterthought – Don't ask what the company can do for you, but what you can do for the company. Too much focus on salary and benefits will usually turn off the interviewer. You should know beforehand what your value is in the marketplace for the type of job that you are seeking. There is ample statistical data on the internet for every region. Leave this for the end and don't start a negotiating process at this stage. Review the offer afterward against the known criteria and make the decision on whether it is fair or not. If you get a formal job offer, this will be the appropriate time to nail down a fair package for your participation.

10. Be open to a trial Many companies see auditioning as the true test of whether a candidate fulfills the job requirements and fits well into the company's culture. Be prepared to embrace a trial for a short period of time, providing that it does not take advantage of you from a remuneration and time-frame standpoint. No trial should exceed ninety days - the shorter the better. Make sure that the interviewer knows that you have other options. Whenever possible, keep looking at other jobs during the trial to make sure you are not left in the cold in case of a rejection.

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