The Art of Interviewing

About a year and a half ago, HBR published an (ironic) interview with Esquire writer, New York Times bestselling author, world-renowned interviewer, keynote speaker and corporate consultant, Cal Fussman. You might be familiar with his tagline, “Change your questions, change your life.” As self-proclaimed professional interviewers, we recruiters are fascinated by interview styles, questions, and behaviors and regard Cal Fussman as the ultimate interviewer. Even though Cal may be interviewing celebrities, his principles on interviewing to get ahead in your personal and business relationships apply directly to job interviews and talent acquisition best practices. So, here are our top three Cal Fussman tips and the tactical steps that we as recruiters take:

Make the Interviewee Comfortable

We’ve all been there; interviewing is a nerve-wracking process for an interviewee. They get nervous about the questions they’ll be asked,  if the interviewer will be intimidating, or how many people they’ll meet. Anxiety can have profound effects on interviewees – we’re all human after all. So unless you’re interviewing someone for a very high profile job or Navy Seal position, give them some grace and make them feel comfortable.  Break tension and nerves with humor and small talk before diving into your line of questioning. Chances are you’ll uncover something interesting about them and get a better sense of who they are as a professional.

Listen and Probe

If you’ve done your homework as an interviewer, you’ve reviewed their resume and already have a baseline understanding of the interviewee’s qualifications, accomplishments, and work history. The interview itself is your opportunity to learn about their personality and work ethic. Start by asking good open-ended questions, and then listen carefully to their response. Use probing questions (use why and how) to dive into their explanations and reasoning.  The interviewee should be doing most of the talking.

Save the Hard Questions for the End

An interview that begins with a hard question is tough on the interviewee. Why? Because you haven’t established trust and a baseline of communication yet… refer to our first tip and make the interviewee comfortable first. Once trust is established you can come in with the harder questions, and when they trust you, those questions are viewed in a different light typically yielding authentic answers. . 

At ORS we work closely with our partners and hiring managers to find and attract the best candidates. We help coach hiring managers and interviewers on their interview styles and tactics.  We know that great interviewers yield great hires. If you need interviewing advice, reach out to us today to see how we can help

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