Advance Hiring Interview Skills That Improve Your Batting Average Part 8


The remarks here are my own opinion. I made the opinions based on my many years of work experience as a HR practitioner. You are entitled to accept, reject or ignore them.


This is the last part of a 8 part series on hiring interview skills.

Be A Savvy but Graceful Interviewer

Do not be a snob. I disagree with the rudeness that some interviewers disguise as stressful interview. Most interviewers forgot that he or she was once a job applicant; that he or she is still an employee; and he or she is working in the turbulent times of the 21st century. In return, look for that grace and kindness in the prospective candidate. Think of what that will do for both where you work and your company’s brand.

On the other hand, be alert to the job candidate who brags; extremely agreeable or sells. It is highly likely that these are the wrong candidates. There is that possibility that they oversell their ability or willingness to do the job, in particular difficult jobs.

Interview Etiquette

Your objective is to interview the job candidate under the best possible circumstances for them to share information about their educational and training background; to assess their work experience; to understand their thinking skills; and to get to know something about them as a person. Mind your own interview manners.

A person who was lost before finding the way to your office premises would feel tense and hurried. A person that was kept waiting for 2 hours and later be interviewed for ten minutes is going to be infuriated.

Always provide your job candidate with details on how to come and how to locate your office premises. This should include a map and information on public transport availability, road names and a contact telephone number in case he is lost on the way or would be late.

For the job candidate who arrive early, provide her with water and reading materials to welcome her. If you are asking the job candidate to complete a manual job application form, do ask him to come 10 to 15 minutes earlier and do provide a writing surface; a pen and a correction tape (for mistakes). A better way is to send a soft copy out to be completed and returned before the interview date.

Although some interview facililator would rather check identification, training, educational, license documents after they have made the final hiring decision, I prefer to do all the validation before the interview. Imagine if the final decision had been made and it was found that some of the credentials were falsified (fake) or from a unaccreditated educational institution. In addition, not all university degrees are made equal as the quality of university education differs from country to country. In cases like law and accountancy degrees, where knowledge of local regulations are important, foreign degrees cannot stand on their own because the curriculum were based on foreign laws and regulations. As the recruiter, you have to be aware of these matters.

Do inform the candidate:

  • Who he will be interviewed by, both in name; job titles and roles.
  • How many rounds of interviews that he has to go through.
  • Who does this position reports to (this should have already appeared on the job advertisements)

Structure the Interview

If it is a panel interview and you are one of the interviewers, make a point to agree on key areas for interview; what are the essential questions and what type of personality traits are important. You also may agree on who to start the interview and who to ask what questions.

At the start of the interview, do introduce yourselves, your roles in the company. This is business courtesy that you should extend to all job applicants. After all, they took the time, dressed up and paid for the travel expenses to meet you.

At the outset, explain the areas that you will cover in the interview. If you wish for questions only to be left at the end, please say so. However, it is always better to have an exchange of questions.

A Few Reminders

  • Watch your time.
  • Do check the candidate’s understanding of your business. Be ready to clarify any wrong perception about the business and the job. Take note of any indications that the candidate is in the wrong career.
  • Remember the resume is a sales tool. Clarify some points that you have questions about the candidate’s written tests, education documents, licenses, testimonials and resume.
  • Some examples of areas that needs clarification: When the candidate is stepping up or down in his job.
  • When you hire someone for a job, it is not just about the job alone. Both the reporting structure; and any need for facing internal stake-holders matter.
  • Never hard sell your vacancy.Be open with the challenges of the job.If the job candidate joins your company, he would come emotionally prepared.
  • Everyone’s journey has its joy and pain. Follow the twists and turns of the candidate’s job history. Be conscious of your own bias.
  • When the candidate speaks, do not yawn or doze off. If the resume if too long, you may tell the job candidate for example to limit to the last 10 years of employment history.
  • Despite all the hype about hiring smart people, it is more important to hire people that are sincere, honest and hardworking.

Be A Detective

You have just met the candidate. If you do not know him or her, then all you can make out of whether the person can do the job and whether the person is of suitable character is out of the information sources place before you.

This would include his identity, his work credentials, any results from your company tests , the resume, the job application form or company questionairre.

Always do evidence based interviewing and hiring. If you have solid evidences that the job candidate has both the abilities (competencies), aptitude and attitude for

Employ the Right Person, Not the Best Person

Kanyin Publications Sdn. Bhd. published a book titled Jack Ma (ISBN 978-983-3789-92-4). The following is an excerpt:

Ma admitted making a mistake in 2000, the year Alibaba raised USD25 million. Eager to expand and globalise Alibaba, he hired as many talents as possible – MBA holders, Vice Presidents (VPs) from multinational companies etc. “When we have money, we started to make mistakes” Ma said.

At that time, Ma believed that those with MBAs and MNC exxperience must make good employees. “But when I hired these people, oh my, it was terrible. I remember one VP planned the budget for the following year’s marketing. When I looked at it, I ASKE, ‘12 million dollars? I ONLY HAVE 5 million!’ He replied, ‘I’ve never done any budget planning under 110 million.’

“So, try to find the right people, not the best people to work with you. If you hire great people to work in your company when your company is not ‘good enogh’ for them, it will be like installing a Boeing 747 engine in a tractor. When you turn on the engine, it will not fly but crumble to pieces. So, focus on your existing employees – develop them. Only when they are developed, will the company develop.”

Ma has never hidden this incident:”I made a mistake in 220011 y telling my 17 founders that they could only be team managers while I hire VPs from outside. Ten years have passed, all those ‘great’ people I hired from outside have all gone. And those whose capabilities I once have doubted have now all become VPs and directors in my company. They’re all powerful now because they believe they can succeed. So, take care of your employees. They are the ones who will stay with you, not just because of the job but to share your dream.”

How can you ensure you have the right employee? Ma’s advice: Ask them what their dreams are.”If your employee tells you he or she wants to contribute towards humanity, that’s not a dream; they are daydreaming. If a person tells you his or her dream is to build a family, buy a car or a house, get a promotion the net year – these are people with real ambitions.” And these are the ones you will want for your ambitious team.

What Matters Most is Character

When we hire, we hire for character, and train for skills.

Here are some truths:

  • Motivating others do not work. It is all about self motivation.That comes a sense of responsibility and accountability.
  • Work ethics are important.
  • In the fast pace and roller-coaster workplace of today, companies need resilent workers. These are the ones that would be willing to face and surmount the challenges of their jobs.

Above: Billionaire entrepreneur John Paul DeJoria is the Co-Founder and Chairman of the Board, John Paul Mitchell Systems and The Patrón Spirits Company. He is an example of a great employee.