The Interviewer's Advantage

I have had the opportunity to interview for new HR staff lately. It's something I don't get to do often although lately it seems I've had the opportunity to do it more due to staff promotions, turnover and new HR positions.

People walk into an interview and it's unknown to me - and to you - what they have on the line at that moment. Whatever "it" is, it belongs to a person in one of the most uncomfortable situations a person could be in.

As the interviewer, I know - but sometimes forget, that I have the opportunity create the space for the person sitting across from me to shine. As I recently watched a candidate come into her own right before my eyes, it made me wonder, what do others do with the very same opportunity?

With this thought on my mind, I saw 10 Human Questions Interviewees Should Ask, from Paul Smith pop up in my Google Reader. Like Paul, I thought "about the anxiety of interviewees and how interviewers have most of the advantages in that environment."

Interviewers can set the stage for an interviewee to be at their best. Their anxious and nervous best, but their best nonetheless.

Why wouldn't every interviewer want to do that?

Is it easier to say, "no" to someone who did not fully step-up-to-the-plate? It is not possible to be both direct and nice? Shame on you if you quell confidence and pride and don't nourish, propup or cultivate every chance you get.

It's not all about the applicant you say? It's all about you? Ok, I get that so let me ask you this, "What impression do you want them to have of their interaction with you, of your department, and of your leadership?"

Interviewers, you have the advantage. Use it well.

Photo credit iStockPhoto

Hell Bent for Leather: Relieving HR Anxiety

What's the surest sign of an HR professional experiencing unnecessary anxiety? They make this stuff personal.

I've got this thing I do. It has nothing to do with clothing, food or body parts and everything to do with words.

I collect phrases.

If I hear a phrase that resonates with me  - it may be an insight, a perspective, or a snappy little comeback- I enclose it in a grade-school-like cloud in the upper right hand corner on the first page of my notes. Phrases that have made their way into my vocabulary are "dirty stinkin' liar," "manage the smiley faces" and "karma is a b**ch." 

My new phrase, thanks to a colleague in Florida during a recent discourse of our HR lives is "hell bent for leather." Now, let me add a few words to get right to the heart of the matter for me.

Hell bent for leather . . . and under scrutiny.

As an HR professional, leader, supervisor, manager, former Army officer, I am no stranger to questions, challenges, or disagreements but lately, I've felt that the spotlight <or is it mirror> has been on me, my decisions, my priorities, my leadership and "Frankly, Scarlet, I <do> give a damn." 

Bottom line: I don't like it. 

This latest round started with an HR Oversight and Effectiveness Survey. This was our first ever and I welcomed the team with open arms, fully aware they would have findings. But did they have to find so much the first morning of the first day of a 3 day visit?!

I am sure Doctor Daniel Crosby, has some valuable insight into the "psychology of an audit" but you have to know that I wasn't seeing much beyond loser by the end of the first day. Throw in employee relations, labor relations, dips in customer service delivery, staff performance and my own performance as a supervisor and, well, anxiety was alive and well.

Today, it is different. Not all the HR problems of the world are solved, they never will be, but the anxiety level has dropped dramatically for this one HR professional.


I stopped making this personal.

The spotlight, the questions, the scrutiny from self and others - it's going to happen. It's unavoidable. Just when you think all is lost and you think about turning in your keys and parking pass, stop and take a look around. 

Notice that your hands are gripping the reins. They are clenched, sunburned and achy. Notice that your legs are cramped and your spurs are dull.

Now, notice this. You are still on the horse. 

Photo creditiStockphoto