The Interviewer's Advantage

We've been in the midst of interviewing candidates for open HR positions and it reminded me of this post from about this time last year I wanted to share with you.

I have had the opportunity to interview for new HR staff lately. It's something I don't get to do often although lately I've had the opportunity to do it more due to 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, prop-up 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.

How To Make Exceptional Staffing Decisions

I am unwrapping posts from the archives and mixing the old with the new. Enjoy this post from the past.

One of the most important things a leader can do is staff their department to deliver.  A leader without anyone on their staff who can design a recruitment strategy better than they can or who is better at [fill in the blank] than they are, is not really a leader at all.



More telling than who a leader selects for a position is looking at who they did not.

It's easy for leaders to select people like themselves or like others the other members of their staff. It's not difficult for a leader to evaluate a candidate's skills against need, traits against culture, and like-ability against team dynamics. Nor is it a stretch to consider experience and accomplishments to predict contribution and initiative.

The outcome of the selection process often indicates that there is a person best suited for the job. It all fits - except for one thing. This one thing will make the difference between a solid selection and an exceptional one. And, herein lies the stretch.

Once the skills and culture fit boxes are checked and it's time for a leader to make a decision, the internal dialogue begins:

  • Can I manage this person who is older/younger than me?
  • Will they test or stretch my leadership skills?
  • What if he has ideas I hadn't thought of?
  • What if she wants my job - and has a good chance at getting it?
  • What if he fills in a much needed gap and people will realize that I had not?
  • What if she raises the bar and others are threatened?

These questions have absolutely nothing to do with the candidate and everything to do with the leader. Stop the madness right there. Leaders are human and get pushed out of their comfort zone. They feel threatened. And they should not let that interfere with making exceptional staffing decisions.

Take it from someone who succumbed to the madness, let the good ones get away, and has lived to tell about it. Acknowledge the discomfort but don't let it drive your decision making process. 

Some of my best staffing decisions were made from outside my comfort zone. How about you?

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