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Mastering the Interview Process

The interview (in-person and otherwise) is still the most important part of the hiring process, but people often stress themselves out and overcomplicate the process (even people in senior leadership positions).

Because CEOs around the world turn to Louis Montgomery for his expertise when they’re choosing CHROs, CROs, and others to join their executive teams, we asked him to return to the show and simplify the interview process, for both organizations and candidates.

Louis leads Korn Ferry’s HR Executive Search Practice for the Mid-Atlantic and South Region, is co-leading its Chief Diversity Officer Practice nationally, and is a member of the firm’s Global Human Resources Center of Expertise  He specializes in placing senior People & Talent executives with some of the most innovative growth-focused companies in the world.

Are In-Person Interviews Still Relevant?

Last year alone, VCs invested $2.4 billion in #HRtech to focus technology on the attraction, retention, and engagement of talent… with the majority of those dollars spent on making the attraction and hiring process a more consumer oriented experience.

With all of that money and technology, are in-person interviews still relevant?

The short answer is yes. The longer answer is that, even with new technologies, candidates and organizations still need similar preparation and interview skills.

How to Prepare For an Interview

Successful interviews come down to preparation. Pure and simple.

Organizations need to prepare for the interview process so that they can put their best put forward and communicate consistently (and, as we discussed with Dr. Lauren Aguilar in S2E3, consistency can limit unconscious biases).

  • Agree, as an organization, on the mission critical attributes or skills that you want to delve into as part of the interview process.

  • Any technology being used, such as a video conferencing tool, should be tested ahead of time and be extremely user friendly.

  • Pick your questions carefully, and don’t choose too many. You want to give a couple minutes to answer each question, and you want to provide time for the candidate to ask questions at the end.

  • Logistics need to be planned well in advance so that daily work isn’t affected and no one is inconvenienced.

  • An hour is the upper limit of an efficient interview, especially a video interview.

Candidates need to prepare for the interview process so that they can be concise and specific – you only have so much time to present your best self.

  • Avoid being general – get specific.

  • Avoid long intros or preambles to your answers. It’s okay to provide context, but you don’t want to take more than three minutes to answer a question, and you really don’t want to forget the question.

  • After you are done answering a question, stop talking. Be silent until they ask another question.

  • If it is a video interview, you can control the setting. Make sure you are visible, the background is presentable, and no one will interrupt your meeting.

  • You should rarely be surprised about a question.

How to Answer a Question: The S-A-R Model

Louis suggests the SAR model of answering a question:

  • here's the Situation that I've found or encountered

  • here's the Action that I took or recommended

  • here is the Result

Preparing to answer questions using this model allows candidates to highlight anything they want about their experience, and then relate that information to the key points of the interview.

Three Things To Discuss With Your Team:

  1. As an organization, be very clear around what's important in a candidate. What's your environment like and what kind of person, from a skills and desires and attributes standpoint, is going to work best in your environment? if you're not using some sort of reputable psychometric assessments to assess candidates, especially senior level candidates, then you're leaving way more to chance than you should.

  2. Research who you are going to talk to during the interview, whether you are the interviewer or the interviewee.

  3. Practice (and use) the SAR Model laid out above when you answer questions.

If you like what you hear, subscribe via iTunes by clicking here and Google Play by clicking here. While you’re there, leave a review – the team at Top Employers always loves to hear from you!

Develop. Always.

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