Having had several jobs, I’ve had my fair share of weird Interviews. You can try to prepare, and I always did, but you just never know what you’re going to get. I’ve had interviews that lasted 15 minutes and one that lasted two and a half hours. I’ve had some with timed tests and some that were a joke. But as varied as interviews can be, they nearly all have the same fault: they’re one-sided. It makes sense. As a manager, you have questions you need to ask, things you’ve got to know to find out if this person is a good fit. So, you ask a question, let them answer and make notes, then move onto the next question. But is that really the best way to get to know a potential employee? Interviews are one of the scariest parts of the job search, so potential candidates will already be putting their best foot forward while trying to fight back the nerves. If you want to get to know your candidate and get past the “What is your biggest weakness?” surface questions, you’ve got to get interactive. A job interview should be a conversation, not a speech. Fight the stuffy, confusing, and most of all one-sided process with these three tips. ‘>

1. Conduct a mobile interview.

Get up out of your office chair and get moving. Rather than conducting an interview in your office or a meeting room, give the candidate a tour of your facility, using that time to talk with him or her. Make the candidate feel like he or she is a part of the experience within your company by taking breaks to meet other employees and help the interviewee understand the culture and people to see if it’s the right fit. ‘>

2. Skip the formal process.

Make your candidate feel comfortable by foregoing the formal interview and using a more casual approach. This means that the process is more of a conversation, with less of a formal question-and-answer time, or it could mean meeting in a casual, neutral location, such as a restaurant or coffee shop. A casual interview is a one-on-one interview instead of one with a panel. If your candidate is comfortable, he or she’ll be more likely to be open and honest and you’ll get a better idea of his or her personality. ‘>

3. Ask the right questions.

Even when your interview is interactive, you’ll still be asking questions, so focus on the kinds of questions that allow for a conversation. Rather than asking questions based on theory, ask questions based on experience. You’ll get to hear personal stories that reveal how they handle situations, their experience, insight into their areas of expertise, and more. When you turn your interviews into an interactive experience, you’ll have the opportunity to make the best hiring decisions possible. Finding the right employee is all about discovering the perfect mix between experience, skill, personality, loyalty, and more, and having an interactive interview is the best way to do that.

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR, is an author, speaker, Human Resources professional, and workplace social media expert who has a passion for recruiting, training, and all things social media. She is the president and CEO of Xceptional HR, and a leader in the HR community with more than 12 years of industry experience. The author of Tweet This! Twitter for Business, Jessica was named by HR Examiner as the second most influential recruiter on the Internet and the seventh most powerful woman on Twitter. She is a columnist for both SmartBrief and The Huffington Post, in addition to Blogging4Jobs and Human Resources One on One. Jessica has been interviewed for professional articles in CIO Magazine, Entrepreneur Magazine, SHRM’s HR Magazine, and on CBS. Jessica earned a Senior Professional in Human Resources designation in 2008, and holds a bachelor’s degree in Anthropology and Business from Kansas State University. Originally from a small town in Kansas, Jessica currently lives near Oklahoma City with her husband, Greg and daughter, Ryleigh.

4 Comments

  • Avatar Becky Bartley says:

    We all aim to get a candidate relaxed during the interview, but in some cases our attempts work against us. For example, a combination of an interview with a tour of a facility may become a real challenge for some interviewees, as they may find it difficult to concentrate both on the questions and the environment.

  • Avatar Michael says:

    I like the idea of moving the interview to a restaurant and apply this trick often to make the atmosphere less tense. I’ve also heard about conducting an interview with several candidates at the same time over lunch. That sound even better.

  • Avatar Janice says:

    Michael, undoubtedly that is an interesting idea, but I think it puts the introverts in an awkward situation. I’d better stick to a traditional interview, as boring as it may sound, but at least it won’t confuse or startle anyone.

  • Avatar Brad says:

    I’ve heard of lots of interviews that took place in an outing during golf or any other game. So, I don’t think that such form of interview may surprise anyone nowadays. However, the form of an interview is tightly bound to the sphere and position you interview for. Therefore I don’t think there exists one and only ideal interview scheme.

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