Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Both Sides Of The Interview: Interviewer

Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric said, “Every minute spent making sure you have the right person in the right job will save you weeks of time and bundles of cash later on.”

Numerous experts concur that hiring the wrong person is among the costliest mistakes companies can make. When the wasted salary, benefits, severance pay, recruitment and training expenses are added up, it’s estimated that an executive turnover costs anywhere from two to five times their annual salary.

Add to that figure the possible revenue impact of an under-performing or poor-fitting leader on reduced employee productivity, retention and morale, and the number can be considerably higher. All too often, the costs of bad hiring decisions sneak up on organizations - ambushing profits, competitiveness and market share.

The best interviewers gather the right information to make the best hiring decisions

Being a top-notch interviewer requires mastering the three components: thorough preparation, consistent implementation and critical analysis of the outcome. Here’s the "CliffsNotes" version of my executive seminar on conducting interviews:


1. Review the job specifications to identify the desired outcomes and deliverables of the position.

2. Determine the mandatory competencies, knowledge, skills, abilities and personal characteristics for success in the role.

3. Determine the qualifications, experiences and attributes necessary.

4. Draft a uniform set of questions to determine whether the candidate has both the skills to succeed and a demeanor compatible with the company culture.

5. Understand the legal boundaries.

6. Ensure the avoidance of distractions.

7. Remove/cover sensitive documents, other resumes, interview notes, etc.

8. Allocate sufficient time for the interview.

Before you go into the interview, remember that you represent the Company. Even if you don’t hire the candidate, it’s critical that they have a positive reaction to you. You may be doing business with them in the future.


1. Establish chemistry. A firm handshake, pleasant smile and friendly opening remarks are the hallmarks of a good interviewer.

2. Set the stage by explaining how the interview process will evolve.

3. Explain the position, its roles, responsibilities and reporting structure.

4. Be aware of, but do not succumb to, initial impressions.

5. Probe the obvious. Use open-ended questions to learn more about experience, accomplishments and activities.

6. Identify behaviors. Learn about “behavior-based” interview questions and use them to identify a candidate’s prior performance in a situation as an indicator of how they will perform at your company.

7. Anticipate and solicit questions and have answers prepared for the most commonly asked questions.

8. Ensure that both yours and the candidate’s questions have been answered.

9. Determine the level of interest.

10. Explain next step procedures.


1. Document - immediately record your impressions. Perceptions and recollections change quickly with the passage of time.

2. Compare the outcomes of the interview against the original list of skills, competencies and requirements.

3. List the candidate’s pros and cons.

4. Maintain total objectivity in comparing candidates.

6. Prioritize candidates based on the predetermined qualifications.

7. Select the top contenders for the next step.

Be thorough. Be structured. Be critical. In the long run, it’s a profitable use of your time.


Anonymous said...

Excellent column! Straightforward and on point.

Anonymous said...

Very helpful.
Thank you.



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