The Face To Face Interview: Assessing What Is Said, (and Not Said)

When you get to the stage of actually interviewing job candidates, it will be important to not only build a rapport with the applicant and ask the right questions but it will also be important to listen to how the applicant responds to your questions.

If you developed questions based on the behavioral interview style of questioning, youll be asking the types of questions that will almost guarantee that you get a deeper sense of your job applicants qualifications to perform the job that you are hiring them for.

Now, when you are asking questions, listen carefully to the information that the candidate is sharing with you and then think about these things:

Are they directly answering your questions? or, is what they are sharing with you out of sync with the questions that you ask?

Or maybe their responses dont dive deep enough in terms of information for you.

Or maybe their response to your question does not really answer your question at all.

Here is an example of what I mean by those things.

Let us take this hypothetical scenario of hiring a customer service representative. Here is a question that may be asked:

Based on your resume, it appears that you have worked in customer service role at ABC Electronics. Lets assume that I am a customer who is calling you in order to obtain more information on the difference between two different types of microphones. Walk me through this conversation beginning with how you would greet me when I called and how you would close the call.

In order to answer this question, the applicant will need to be able to share information based on their directly related work experience in order to answer that question for you clearly. Or at least have an understanding of how to handle that type of situation if they do not have directly related experience.

It is a pretty straightforward question. But, what if your applicant answers that question in the following way:

Well, Miss Shaddock, you will see from my resume that I have had lots of experience working with customers and describing the differences between various products. They call me and ask lots of questions and I give them the answers that they need.

Now think about that response to the customer service question that I presented earlier. When you really think about the actual question and the response, this applicant has not given me a sense of how he would actually handle a customer call. He just repeated information that was already on his resume which is that he has experience with customers.

Based on that response, I do not have a sense of how the applicant would interact with the customer based on the generic answer that it implied.

Now take a look at the following response to the very same question:

Miss Shaddock, Ive had this type of experience; Im used to describing different products to customers by phone. So this is how I would handle this particular situation.

I would thank them for calling and thank them for their interest in our company. I would ask more information about why they are looking for microphones and what theyd be using the microphones for. I then answer any questions that they might have for me. And then I would close the sale or thank them for considering our product.

As you can gather from that particular response, you would have a much better sense of how this applicant would interact with the customer.

An understandable mistake that many managers make when interviewing is letting the applicant reinforce what is already on their resume as opposed to really discussing what their actual experience is in a deeper level of detail.

So listen carefully to make sure that the interviewee is really answering your questions and not making general statements that do not give you a sense of their experience or how they might handle a situation.

Do not be afraid to follow up with the applicant if they have not answered your question or if you do not understand their response. It is really okay to say something like I do not think I understood your answer can you rephrase your response? or you could say Let me ask the question differently.

Always remember, the key here is listening carefully and making sure that the person has answered your questions and you understand their experience as it relates to what you are looking for.