The Job Interviewer’s Perspective

The Job Interviewer’s Perspective

 The Job Interviewer’s Perspective – a view from the other side of the table

I’ve spent a fair amount of time being interviewed but I’ve spent a lot more time on the other side of the table. As a civil servant I sat on old style promotion boards for very large departments. Sometimes that meant two and, occasionally, three weeks interviewing from nine in the morning until 5.30 at night. More recently, I’ve also done my fair share of recruitment interviewing and interviewing people on promotion to particular jobs. The experience has been enlightening.

I’ve learned for example that it isn’t only the candidates who need to prepare for the interview. Of course, like candidates, not all interviewers do prepare. But it wise to do so if you and your organization are likely to suffer the consequences of a poor decision.

The Job Interviewer’s Perspective – Performance Nerves

I didn’t expect so many interviewers to suffer from performance nerves before the interviews. Most interviewers are concerned to do a good a job and no one wants to look incompetent to candidates or fellow interviewers.

There is a unique internal dynamic to each interviewing panel. If the panel, and the candidates, are lucky there is an experienced panel chair who knows how to get the interviewers working together as a team. Chairing a panel requires leadership and management skills. Sadly, of course, many panels don’t have the benefit of good leadership. Individual panel members come to the interview with their own perspective on what is required. Good leadership means achieving a common view. It is almost inevitable though that there will be some differences of opinion.

What is it that marks someone out as special?

So, now, there you sit, having had a discussion with your fellow interviewers about the competencies required for this role and how you will test them. In comes the first candidate and you get to work. What is it that marks someone out as special?

Well, if you ask the right questions, you’ll have the facts you need about competence. But there is something else. What you remember afterwards are the candidates who engaged with you and showed a real interest in the work and the organization. And, of course, they had done their homework. If you are serious about being good interviewer, you prepare for the interview, so, naturally, you expect the candidates to show that they have done the same.

I wish all those starting out on or a continuing a job search this week every success.

Working with a coach really can help you prepare for an interview. Get in touch at the Facing a mid-career dilemmaemail address below – I offer a free half hour trial session by phone or Skype.
Wendy Smith, Career, life and Business Coach

Wendy Smith is a career consultant, life coach and business coach with depth of experience in organisational development, management, coaching and personal development. That experience means she is equally at home helping clients find a new career direction, starting-up new businesses or dealing with life’s more challenging personal issues. You can contact her at wendy@wisewolfcoaching.com

Wendy has written a little eBook on how to get on with your boss and a book on job search – you can find all her books on Amazon at this link

         

Are you going to listen to me? The delicate art of communication! Giving bad news!

This week my posts are going to be about Communication and I start here with how to give the bad news – in this case seriously bad news, for example, about redundancy.

About a year ago I published a version of the post below!  It has been one of the most popular items on this site!

I started my working life as a nurse.  In those days we were given no preparation for giving bad news.  I can still remember feeling totally undone by the prospect of having to tell a young husband that his wife had died!  I was the only person there to give the message.  I did my best but to this day, I know that I could have done it better! I still remember every moment of the encounter with that poor man! So here is the advice which is now usually given to medical students in the UK and I believe nurses in training receive similar advice! It can be equally useful in the workplace.  Don’t under estimate the sense of loss and pain that accompanies news of redundancy!

“THE DELICATE ART OF GIVING BAD NEWS
This post is going to be concerned with, what John Nettles’ character described in a recent edition of Midsomer Murders as, ‘the delicate art of delivering bad news’

I covered giving feedback in a recent post and this is closely related, so you may wish to read that as well.

On most occasions when you give feedback your hearer is expecting a message of some kind – good or bad.  Bad news often comes as a shock, even if it is expected!  The reality and the details may be very hard to bear!  There is, and should be, a lot more to it than just saying or writing the words!

If you want to ensure there is the best possible outcome then you will need to prepare and to follow-up, as well as delivering the message itself well!

Preparing

Preparing to give bad news is almost as important as actually giving it. For instance, where are you going to have the meeting?  Where you sit or stand in relation to the hearer and even what you wear is important, if the news is seriously bad.  If you have to write, then you need to think about the medium – this is not the time for a very brief email! You will need to think about how you are going to follow up and provide an opportunity to handle questions

When choosing a place, you should make sure it’s quiet with little or no chance of interruption. Make sure it’s some place you can make the person feel as comfortable as possible.  If possible, sit close to the person at eye-level with no barrier between you.  Studies have shown that many people feel isolated and alone if you sit behind a desk or some other barrier. They may also perceive you as cold and uncaring if you sit too far away.

Knowing how you should comfort really must come from what you know about the person!  For instance, if you’ve found they don’t like people sitting too close this may make them feel uncomfortable rather than at ease.

One thing that is important is for you to be very clear about the facts, the explanation behind a decision, for example, before you begin.  You also need to know the options open to the person.  In case of redundancy, what support can the person expect from HR?  In this example, identify an HR contact so that you can pass a name and telephone number onto the individual?

The worst thing you can do when giving bad news, is to give the individual the impression that you didn’t even care enough to find out the facts.  Know your material and don’t work from notes, if you can, on this occasion!  Notes can provide a barrier and you will not be able to judge their reactions so well!

Work out what your own feelings are about the situation before the meeting, and how to deal with them!  You want the person to know you are sorry but it isn’t fair to overwhelm them with your own grief!

Giving the news

Watching the person’s reaction and listening are very important while actually while giving bad news. Just from body language or the extent of eye contact, you can tell if they understand and accept what you’re saying and what emotions they are experiencing.   Be prepared for anger or despair with serious news.

It is really important to remember to speak clearly and slowly.  Don’t jump straight into the news – go through the usual courtesies at the beginning of the meeting.  In a letter warn them that you have bad news and say that you are sorry about it!

Throughout the meeting, ask them if they have any questions and if they understand what you’re telling them.    Don’t let your feelings weigh on the listener!

Following-up

After you’ve given the bad news, don’t end the meeting abruptly. Ask again for questions or if they need any information repeated. Offer additional sources of information like pamphlets or the names of support groups if they are available. Make sure to pass on that name and contact details for HR.

Most of us feel somewhat lost after receiving very bad news.  One way to deal with this is to schedule another meeting shortly afterwards or to ring them to discuss how they are going to manage the time ahead.

At the very least you will want to make sure they understood what you told them and that they can respond to it as necessary. Then you may want to allow them some time alone! Just don’t rush them out of your office or wherever the meeting is taking place.  Take time to be kind – compassion costs us nothing!”

I would very much welcome your own tips on handling bad news and to hear your own experiences

I hope to publish the next post in this series on Communication on Wednesday 2nd March 2011

THE DELICATE ART OF GIVING BAD NEWS

This is post is going to be concerned with, what John Nettles’ character described in a recent edition of Midsomer Murders as, ‘the delicate art of delivering bad news’   We covered giving feedback in a recent post and this is closely related, so you may wish to read that as well.

On most occasions when you give feedback your hearer is expecting a message of some kind – good or bad.  Where as bad news often comes as a shock! Even if is it expected in principle – the reality and the details may be hard to bear!  There is, and should be,  a lot more  to it than just saying or writing the words!  If you want to ensure there is the best possible out come then you will need to prepare and to follow-up, as well as delivering the message well!   The advice given here is based on that usually given to medical students in the UK as part of their training.  But it applies equally well if you are giving seriously bad news at work,  for example,  about redundancy!

Preparing

Preparing to give bad news is almost as important as actually giving it. For instance, where are you going to  have the meeting?  Where you’ll sit or stand in relation to the hearer and even what you will wear is important if the news is seriously bad.  If you are going to write, then you need to think about the medium – this is not the time for a very brief email!

When choosing a place, you should make sure it’s quiet with little or no chance of interruption. Make sure it’s some place you can make the person feel as comfortable as possible.  If possible, sit close to the person at eye-level with no barrier between you.  Studies have shown that many people feel isolated and alone if you sit behind a desk or some other barrier. They may also perceive you as cold and uncaring if you sit too far away.  Knowing how you should comfort really must come from what you know about the person!  For instance,  if you’ve found they don’t like people sitting too close this may make them feel uncomfortable rather than at ease.

One thing that is important is for you to be very clear about the facts, the explanation behind a decision, for example, before you begin.  You also need to know the options open to the person.  In case of redundancy, what support can the person expect from HR?  In this example, identify an HR contact that you can pass onto the individual?   The worst thing you can do when giving bad new is to give the individual the impression that you didn’t even care enough to find out the facts.  Know your material and don’t work from notes,  if you can, on this occasion!  Notes can provide a barrier and you will not be able to fully judge their reactions so well!

Work out what your own feelings are about the situation and how to deal with them before the meeting.  You want the person to know you are sorry but it isn’t fair to overwhelm them with your own grief!

Giving the news

Watching the person’s reaction and listening are very important while actually while giving bad news. Just from body language or the extent of eye contact, you can tell if they understand and accept what you’re saying and what emotions they are experiencing.   Be prepared for anger or despair with serious news.    It is really important to remember to speak clearly and slowly.  Don’t jump straight into the news – go through the usual courtesies at the beginning of the meeting.  In a letter warn them that you have bad news and say that you are sorry about it!

Throughout the meeting, ask them if they have any questions and if they understand what you’re telling them.    Your own feelings should be dealt with before the meeting and should not weigh on them!

Following-up

After you’ve given the bad news, don’t end the meeting abruptly. Ask again for questions or if they need any information repeated. Offer additional sources of information like pamphlets or the names of support groups if they are available. Make sure to pass on the name and  contact details for HR.

Most of us feel somewhat lost after receiving very bad news.  One way to deal with this is to schedule  another meeting shortly afterwards or to ring them to discuss how they are going to manage the time ahead.  At the very least you will want to make sure  they processed what you told them. Then you may want to allow them some time alone!. Just don’t rush them out of your office or wherever the meeting is taking place.  Take time to be kind – compassion costs us nothing!

GET THAT JOB – 15 INTERVIEW TIPS FOR JOB HUNTERS

Its more important than ever right now to do well at interviews.  Don’t lose your vital opportunity because you have not done your home work!

  1. Research as much as you can about the company – products, services, markets, competitors, trends, current activities, priorities.
  2. Prepare your answers for the type of questions you’ll be asked, especially, be able to say why you want the job, what your strengths are, how you’d do the job, what your best achievements are.
  3. Prepare good questions to ask at the interview – see the section below.
  4. Related to the above, request a copy of the company’s employment terms and conditions or employee handbook before the interview, in order to save time covering routine matters during the interview.
  5. Assemble hard evidence (make sure it’s clear and concise) of how what you’ve achieved in the past – proof will put you ahead of those who merely talk about it.
  6. Have at least one other interview lined up, or have a recent job offer, or the possibility of receiving one from a recent job interview, and make sure you mention it to the interviewer.
  7. Make sure your resume/cv is up to date, looking very good and even if already supplied to the interviewer take three with you (one for the interviewer, one for you and a spare in case the interviewer brings a colleague in to the meeting).
  8. Get hold of the following material and read it, and remember the relevant issues, and ask questions about the areas that relate to the organisation and the role. Obtain and research: the company’s sales brochures and literature, a trade magazine covering the company’s market sector, and a serious newspaper for the few days before the interview so you’re informed about world and national news. Also worth getting hold of: company ‘in-house’ magazines or newsletters, competitor leaflets, local or national newspaper articles featuring the company.
  9. Review your personal goals and be able to speak openly and honestly about them and how you plan to achieve them.
  10. Ensure you have two or three really good reputable and relevant references, and check they’d each be happy to be contacted.
  11. Adopt an enthusiastic, alert, positive mind-set.  Follow the link.
  12. Particularly think about how to deal positively with any negative aspects – especially from the perspective of telling the truth, instead of evading or distorting facts, which rarely succeeds.
  13. Try to get some experience of personality tests. Discover your personality strengths and weaknesses that would be indicated by a test, and be able to answer questions positively about the results. (Do not be intimidated by personality testing – expose yourself to it and learn about yourself)  More at link
  14. Think about what to wear.  Do you know the company dress code? When in doubt wear a smart business suit!
  15. Some jobs invite or offer opportunity to re-define or develop the role itself. It might be a existing role or a new position. If so prepare for this. Most jobs in fact offer this potential, but sometimes it is a stated requirement.

Asking Questions to Impress the Interviewer

A key to asking great questions at your interview is to ask questions that impress the interviewer. Most candidates just ask about routine details that they think they ought to know, or which they think of on the spur of the moment, but which will probably be provided in due course anyway in documentation about terms and conditions. This is meaningless   and should be avoided.

Instead focus on the job priorities and scope, on the organisation and ways to make a difference or an improvement. Try to think strategically like a manager, and for very senior positions, like the CEO. Try to adopt the mind-set of a helpful advisor who needs to ask helpful facilitative questions. Focus on the organisation not on your own needs.

Try to prepare and ask questions that make the interviewer think to themselves, “Wow, that’s a good question – this candidate has really thought about the role, and understands the sort of issues we need them to handle/the sort of responsibilities/initiatives we want them to take..”

Aim to ask questions that make the interviewer think, (depending on what the organisation and role requires), “Wow, that’s an unusual question – this candidate is special – they are demonstrating to me that they understand people/understand about communications/have great integrity/a strong value system/great humanity/maturity/a good strategic mind/etc, etc.”

Think before the interview about what the successful candidate will be like – ask yourself beforehand, what great questions would the successful candidate ask? And then be that person.

When you research the job look into the sort of challenges the organisation is facing, and think how this affects the vacant role. What does the employer need from the successful applicant? How might the role be extended to contribute more to the organisation if the job were performed by a suitably positive and capable person ? (That’s you incidentally.) The job advert or job specification might give you some clues. Do your research so that you understand as much as possible about the priorities of the job position, and the organisation and its situation, and then think about the ways that the role could be extended to provide greater support towards achieving organisational challenges.

This sort of background thinking will help you to prepare questions that will seriously impress any interviewer, whatever the role. It is possible also to think of good positive impressive questions just by using what you know of the role and the sort of issues that face modern employers. The point is, you need to think about it and prepare beforehand.

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