Interviewing Tips

First off…

  • Be polite and professional, but not their best friend.

  • Don’t talk too much

  • Watch non-verbal cues

Be Wary Of…

Although a candidate may look great on paper, it’s critical to keep an eye on these warning signals during the interview phase. Doing so will allow making the smartest decisions when hiring new employees.

Fuzzy answers

  • What Happens: The interviewer asks about a specific skill or industry tool, and the candidate responds with either: “I may have seen that before,” or “I am pretty sure this is how it works.”

  • What It Means: The candidate is not 100 percent confident in his answer and does not have the personal and professional experience you are asking for. If the candidate did possess these skills, the candidate would have answered with definitive words such as, “I do,” “I know,” or “I have.”

  • What to Do: Prompt them to clarify their response by asking, “Have you actually done this before or used this tool in the past?” Specifically, ask them to cite a concrete example of how they have successfully used the tools in their past work.

Bashing a former employer

  • What Happens: When the candidate is asked about his current or last employer, the candidate provides you with negative feedback in the form of harsh criticisms, such as “my boss was the worst,” or “I hate my current job.”

  • What It Means: By sharing this type of harmful information, the candidate has questionable judgment and may have difficulty framing negative situations in a more professionally objective way.

  • What to Do: In this situation, try to empathize with the candidate (since some employment situations can be complicated) and challenge them to tell you what was good about this job. This provides the candidate with a chance to recast their response more positively and professionally.

Too much group attribution

  • What Happens: The interviewer asks the candidate about a specific project, and their response includes frequent use of the words “we” and “my team” without ever personally owning responsibility for any tasks.

  • What It Means: They likely were not the person driving the project and, in some instances, may not have even been involved directly in any way.

  • What to Do: Dissect any over-usages of plural references and ask the candidate to explain what they were individually responsible for, which will provide a more definite division of labor within the team.

Late for the interview

  • What Happens: The candidate shows up more than fifteen minutes late for his interview and does not acknowledge it.

  • What It Means: They may have had meetings that got extended, They may have faced technical issues to join the meeting, They may have some last-minute family priority to take care of or they simply do not care that they are late for the interview.

  • What to Do: Always address this issue in a light manner, such as, “Did you have difficulty finding us today?” This will test the candidate’s reaction and determine if this was an accident or apathy.

Spinning a weakness as a strength

  • What Happens: When the interviewer asks about professional weaknesses, the candidate responds with, “My biggest weakness is that I work too hard” or “My biggest weakness is I pay too much attention to detail.”

  • What It Means: They are not honest about what real tasks they need to work on and what skills need improvement.

  • What to Do: Instead of asking the candidate what they think his biggest weakness is, ask them instead what their boss or coworkers would say their most significant area of weakness is. This approach will entice the interviewee to provide a more honest response. Ask them for the name of this person. This can also trigger a more authentic response.