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Effective Interview Skills

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How effective are your interview skills?

Jim Collins book Good to Great speaks about not only getting the right people on the bus and the wrong people off the bus, but also getting the right people in the right seat on the bus.

Starting Point

The starting point is long before the actual interview. The starting point in the employment dance is the ad the employer places to attract the ideal client. If the position offered sounds unappealing in any way, the most qualified candidates will search elsewhere.

Employer’s ad

Some recently posted ads described a lengthy list of duties. If Superman was functioning at top efficiency, he might be able to complete the list in 40 to 50 hours a week. The next line read: 5-10 hours a week. The pay rate was listed as $10 per hour. Get real potential employer. Have you heard about the concept of value received for value paid? A simple disclaimer line “Some of these tasks may be required at some time; not all of these will be required every week.”

The ideal ad presents a benefit to the potential job-seeker candidate in exchange for specific duties performed. Create honest descriptions which make the position sound appealing. Give just enough compensation information to inform the candidate that you are a fair business person. Vague ads which create more questions than they answer are a waste of time.

Save yourself time by listing the minimum requirements – education, software skills, experience and main duties. The top candidates will search for positions where their skills match the job.

Application

Applications and cover letters frequently receive a cursory glance. Either they catch your eye and go in the “maybe” or the “yes” pile or they become a dive bomber into the trash. A ten page cover letter or a multi-page resume rarely land in the “second look” section. If the bullet points on the resume and the opening line on the cover letter do not catch the attention, they have a short life.

Savvy employers know exactly which skills they are seeking. They either find them quickly or move on to the next candidate. A candidate who does not clearly display their qualifications rarely has a chance.

Interview

Step one is an attractive, professional appearance. Unless you are Steve Jobs, a candidate who arrives in jeans, tennis shoes and a t-shirt might as well go home.

Clean, pressed, and professional attire set the stage for a good first impression. Don’t forget your polished shoes; this is not the time for clogs regardless of their fashion trends.

Face to Face

Greet the candidate with a firm handshake and a friendly smile.

Ask questions to determine prior situations where the candidate has demonstrated the skills you are seeking. When you know the problem you want this new employee to solve for you, you know the questions to ask to discover if they are capable of filling that role. Questions should be casual and demonstrate an interest in the answers. Asking questions like a drill sergeant, robot or machine gun style will not create a positive impression.

Just as the candidate must be prepared before attending an interview, so the employer has a responsibility to be prepared.

Employment is a value for value proposition. Unless the experience is positive for both parties, it will not last; you will be repeating this interview process again far too soon.

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