In most cases, preparation before an interview is a must, both for the interviewer and the interviewee. On one side of the table, preparation shows that the interviewee has done his or her research about the company, showing that he or she is truly interested in the company and not just a job. On the other side of the table, preparation provides the interviewer with command and control over the interview, allowing for guidance to evoke specific responses from the interviewee. But did you know that, even with a lack of preparation, you can conduct a successful interview with just a few questions?
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Keep Descriptions Short and Sweet
Traditional interviews involve asking the candidate to describe himself or herself. This can lead to long, drawn out responses, and it can also lead to rambling, especially when a candidate is overly nervous. The candidate will usually try to cram as much information in as possible, often losing the important details in the process. Instead, ask the candidate to describe himself or herself in just a few words. You could do this by asking for a few traits that describe the candidate or a few words that previous employers would use to describe the candidate.
Ask How These Traits Have Benefited Previous Employers
Once you've received short responses from the candidate, ask him or her how these traits have benefited previous employers. The candidate should be able to give specific examples of how each trait has helped move a company forward. An example of this might be where a candidate explains how his attention to detail caught a small error in a computer program that had been costing the employer thousands of dollars a year. Or, a candidate might speak more general terms about how her winning personality helped her previous employer book more sales presentations.
Understanding Body Language
Another way to gauge a candidate's fit is to study their body language. If you've conducted any number of interviews, you've probably noticed trends in how a candidate positions himself or herself. You may have also noticed things like eye contact, crossing of the arms or legs, and whether a candidate needs to constantly shift. Confident candidates will generally lean forward, not crossing the arms or legs, while making eye contact. Non-confident candidates will typically avoid eye contact, will be closed off, and will lean back while discussing uncomfortable topics. Of course, keep in mind that virtually everyone is nervous on some level during an interview, so don't base everything on body language.
Of course, you should also have candidates discuss his or her experience and education as well as other general topics. At the end of the day, the key to conducting a successful interview and finding the right candidate with little preparation is to simply have a conversation. Let the candidate show you who he or she is without having to force the candidate down a predetermined road.
What additional criteria should employers use to measure a candidates fit for their organization?
Andrew Rusnak is an author who writes on topics that include human resources development and career development.