Rethinking Job Interviews: Use the Art of Conversation



Let’s rethink  job interviews. Let’s just ditch the rules about the traditional approach. You know, the one that makes a candidate feel stressed and vulnerable. It’s easy to understand why it’s stressful. They want the job and it’s their one chance to make a good impression. Anxiety-ridden job interviews only make candidates stumble. It’s okay to have a heart when you recruit. That doesn’t mean you can hire every person you interview. You can, however, create a positive interview experience. Besides, sometimes people are great interviewers but really bad on the job.

What is the Goal of the Interview Anyway?

It is to mutually decide if what the other offers is best. Recruiters have a responsibility to find the right person and candidates have the responsibility to make the right choice for their career. If we rethink the interview process and use the art of conversation, you reach the same conclusion without the traditional protocol.

Canned Answers

Google is a wonderful tool, isn’t it? All you have to do is google “interview questions” or “behavioral interview questions” and you can find every kind of interview question out there. Who wants canned answers? Where’s the art in that? How does that help make decisions? Make it an honest-to-goodness discussion about the role.

Make the Conversation Meaningful

Great interviews flow like a conversation. Conversation is a form of interactive and spontaneous communication between two or more people. Through effective listening, it becomes a give and take of subjects. If you want to see the “real” person – the person you get every day on the job – then have a meaningful conversation.  No need to conduct a courtroom-like grilling.

What a Company Really Wants to Know

It’s actually pretty simple. There are four basic questions that a company wants to know:

    1. Who are you and will you like working here? Every organization has a unique “feel” and unique expectations. Sure you need to be a good technical fit but if there is not a good cultural match, it’s probably not going to work. Long-term frustration will most likely arise for both parties.
    2. What have you done in the past that is relevant to this role? A Hiring Manager wants to understand what you have done. They want to see the pattern of achievements you have accomplished and the technical skills you possess.
    3. How will you add value here? Can you continue the pattern of success and how will you go about doing that?
    4. Can you do it within the resources they have (salary)? Yes, yes, companies always have a budget.

You answer these questions by having a conversation. No canned responses, please. Instead, use real-life examples of what you have accomplished and explain the strategy you will use in your new role.

The Balance of Power

True conversations have a balance of power and equality. Traditionally, the power resided in the organization and the candidate’s fate rested in their hands. No more. In reality, a candidate holds just as much power and as much decision making authority as the organization. Once the candidate becomes aware of this, the balance is shifted to a more neutral spot and conversation emerges.

The Responsibility of the Candidate

Conversations are two-way streets. If you are going to ask the proper questions and hold up your end, you need to know about the company, financial status, organizational and department priorities, the challenges and expectations of the roles, and corporate culture. It’s the only way you can take part of a thought-provoking intelligent conversation. It’s also the only way you can make a decision on your next move.

Here’s how:

1) Look for opportunities to provide specific achievements or specific ways of working. For example, ask “Can I give you an example of how I handled that situation or problem in the past?”

2) You need good listening skills. Understand what is being discussed and what is being asked.

3) Be prepared. Make a list of the skills, knowledge, professional and personal qualities that are required in the job description and that are critical for success in the job. Then, relate how you match those areas.

So, let’s move on from that frightful interviewing process and create a positive experience in a no-nonsense, professional, enlightening conversation. Here’s to a win-win for all.

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