Conduct interviews responsibly. With great power comes great responsibility.

imagesWith great power comes great responsibility. A great statement indeed. But how much does it fit into the life of a consultant like me. Do I really have any great power which I should exercise with caution?

Well I would yes. And if you give a little time for introspection, I am sure you would come up with long list. But here I will be taking a shot at the responsibility of taking an interview which many of you might have been taking very frequently. And believe me, you should exercise great deal of responsibility when you are given the power of selecting a candidate.

Over my 9 years of professional experience, I did get an opportunity to take multiple interviews and I had to say, it has been one of a kind experience. I have no qualms in accepting that in some of the interviews I had some technical/ functional misconceptions which got corrected by the peson I was interviewing. It’s been great learning experience for me, I have to say that.

But sadly sometimes we seem to take this stuff in a very casual way. Below are some of the points which I find is worth mentioning when we take an interview. These all are either through my personal experience or experiences shared by some of my colleagues.

1. Make the interview on time – This is one of the first thing we should take care of as an interviewer. We always stress on the fact that being on time is something very important for an interviewee. But the same applies for a interviewer be it telephonic or face-face. A candidate prepares really hard and devotes ample time in the preparation for an interview and for experienced professionals, they also need to juggle it with their current job tasks. Being an interviewer, the first thing to turn off a prospective candidate is not by being on time and not understanding the value of the interviewee’s time. Remember, when you take an interview, you are the face of your company in front of the candidate.

2. Be open to interviewee’s ideas – I hate to say this, but this is one of the most common scenario I come across. I have experienced this personally while giving interviews as well as from my co-interviewers in the interview panel. Everyone likes to be appreciated and why not. But we should also imbibe within ourselves the culture to appreciate other’s too.
A perfect example here is throwing a situation to the interviewee and asking for a solution to that. The interviewer might already have a solution for that in his mind and it might indeed the best way to approach the solution. But unfortunately sometimes the interviewer expects to find the same answer for the interviewee. And this analogy sometimes draws the interview in a totally different direction. Isn’t it great that somebody is coming up with a new idea, a different idea? Isn’t the collaboration of ideas the best thing that can happen?

3. Make the interviewee comfortable – Everyone goes to the interview with a great expectations. For some a new job can give a boost to his/ her career, for some it might be a dream opportunity. And more is the expectation, the greater is the nervousness in the interviewee. Every interviewer’s responsibility is to calm an interviewee down and settle the butterflies in his/ her stomach. Many a times I find the interviewer directly jumping into questions. And in the air of tension, it’s very common for the interviewee to totally screw up his interview. Make the candidate feel at home and believe me you will get the best out of the candidate. Ins’t it the same thing we want when we go for the interview?

4. Be very honest about expectations for the role and take logical decisions even if they are harsh – As an interviewer we usually end our interview by asking the candidate – Do you have any questions? And most often I get asked regarding the role and the duties to be performed if selected for the role. As an interviewer we need to be brutally honest here and tell the candidate the ground facts. Also we should make a decision here – is the candidate right fit for the job?
For an example – I interviewed a candidate about a year back and at the start of the interview, when I asked what he wanted to do and how does he like to see himself growing in his career, he told me that he has a great vision of developing new tools for the product and he has great passion for learning new technologies on the job, hands on. But the position, I was interviewing was more of support kind and it was tough to align the duties of the job to what he was expecting. I clearly told him that but with a pause, he replied “still I would like to join if I get selected. I can adjust myself for the support role”.
After thinking over it for sometime, when the HR person asked my feedback, I rejected the candidate although his concepts were sound. I was pretty sure even he lands up with this role, he would not be able to give his best in that role. And sooner or later he would leave.
Strangely enough that guy connected with me on Linked In after sometime and at that time he was already in a new job. He asked me why he was not selected. I gave him an honest feedback and he replied – “Thanks. Otherwise I would not have landed up in this dream role I am now in”.
I believe we should always hire a person who would thrive in the role and not merely survive.

5. Make the interview conceptual and not only knowledge based – Getting a person on-board with great knowledge on the subject is really great. But should knowledge be the only criteria for selecting a candidate. We all need to agree here that with the way technology is evolving around us, it’s very difficult to keep ourselves updated with all the latest trends in the technology. I have seen candidates getting rejected from the interview just because they were unable to answer some direct questions. I can understand that if the questions are very basic and something the candidate should use in their day-day job, then it is expected the candidate should answer them. But if for an example, in a interview a Dynamics Consultant gets asked like

How many business process flows can you have for an entity?                           How many entities can you have in multi entity business process flow?           How many custom entities can you create in Dynamics CRM?

Isn’t it more logical to ask questions which would reveal whether the candidate understands business process flows and whether he has the business sense of when Business Process flows needs to be implemented based on the requirement.

For people not belonging to Dynamics CRM, these questions might be new but I guess you are able to draw the analogy here.
Finally I would end this post with the below quotes ( pardon me for twisting these famous quotes a bit :)) which I believe every interviewer should think of before taking the interview.

1. Always treat the interviewee like that way you would like to be treated when you go for an interview.
2. Don’t reject a candidate just because he/ she does not know some topics. Judge by the fact whether he/ she would be able to pick it up when required.

Hope you liked it. Till then you read one more of my posts, happy interviewing.

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