The Human Element
I think many people find the idea of this interview particularly stressful. Being judged as to whether you’re good enough is something few find comfortable. However, whether the interview actually is stressful or not largely depends on us. Done well, this interview can be a learning opportunity for all involved.
The Business Obligation
Does the person have the role-specific knowledge and skill to succeed if hired? That’s the key decision to be made. If not, the interview process should stop here.
A Humane Approach
A key tool in making the above assessment is a good job description and making sure interviewers are familiar with it.
Next, we need to craft an interview that will consistently provide accurate evaluations across interviewers and candidates of varying backgrounds and personalities.
The specific questions will necessarily differ from one role to the next. We will collect sample questions that we feel represent the above viewpoint in the Appendices section of this site.
With that said, here is a highly generalized sample line of discussion that could be adapted to a variety of roles.
- I’d like you to think of a challenging problem that you helped solve.
- First, could you tell me what the problem was?
- Why was that a problem for the business?
- Was there anything that made the problem especially challenging?
- Had anyone tried to solve it before?
- Did you work on it alone or with others?
- Did that make it easier or more challenging?
- What was your specific involvement in the work?
- Were there any failures along the way?
- Were there any other solutions that you considered?
- Did you need anyone’s approval to roll out the solution?
- Did you need other’s support for it to be adopted?
- How was its effectiveness assessed?
- In retrospect, would you have done anything differently?
My goal is to engage the candidate in a discussion where I can learn how they think. I try to avoid the trap of testing whether they can accurately recite the equivalent of trivia facts, especially if in the day-to-day of the role it would be professionally acceptable to look these up from some reference.
Explain next steps
Naturally people are going to want to know what to expect next. A good practice is to conclude the conversation with an explanation of what the rest of the interview process will look like, who will be contacting them, and when they should expect to hear from them.