Job Interview

The basics of interview technique are pretty well covered; arrive on time, dress appropriately for the job, research the company, don’t take calls during the interview (wait – people need to be told that?).  These are the things that you need to get right to stay in the running for the job. I’ve just been through a round of recruiting and found a great person to hire. Here are some of the things candidates did that made them stand out.

  1. Show Some Personality
    In how you dress, how you speak, how you behave, and in the stories you tell.
    One of the questions we asked related to working with people resistant to change.  Most people gave a textbook answer about change management. The stand out answer was from the person who began “It cost me a lot of pizza” with a laugh.
  2. Be Enthusiastic
    About the company, the role, what you can bring to it, what it can bring you.This goes beyond research the company, find a way to connect something personal or from your work history to the company. And for goodness sake know which products or services you use. We asked everyone we interviewed what products they had in their home from our company – I didn’t have a predefined “perfect answer” for this, but the guy who recalled seeing an old radio from our company at his grandfather’s house scored bonus points for showing some knowledge of the company’s legacy
  3. Interview the Company
    Think of an interview as a date in that both sides need to learn about each other – you both need to know that this is a relationship worth pursuing. I was at an all day interview a while ago, half way through the day I realised that this was not the right company for me. Frankly it was a relief when they turned me down. Ask questions about work expectations, career advancement, company  values by all means. But ask more, ask your future boss how she (or he) likes to work, ask about the company’s most recent success, ask how they correct mistakes. As about the ambitions of the company, the department and the team you’ll be joining. You’ll learn more about whether this is a match for you from those answers.

You’re going to spend a lot of time with the company working with the people there, it needs to be a match.

As the candidates had been screened based on their CVs and an initial phone interview the people I met were all strong candidates. Following the interviews there were several I would have been happy to bring on board, and one outstanding candidate who starts next month.

The candidates who stood out in the interviews I’ve conducted in the last six weeks showed something beyond a professional confidence – they dared to be themselves.

Image; Beast of a Job Interview / Mike Licht / CC BY 2.0

Recruit for Attitude


“Your team is amazing” a colleague told me recently, of course I agreed. She then asked me why that was. I had to think for a moment, and I realised it’s largely because I’ve managed to recruit the right people. So her next question, naturally, was “how do you know who to choose”.

I’ll interview people who fit the “80% plus rule”. They need to meet 80% of the requirements listed in the job vacancy, and meet them solidly. There’s no point pretending that shopping at Amazon counts as online project management experience. The “plus” is they need to have done something remarkable; having a company on your CV which is a legend in online marketing helps, but so would winning a design award as a student.

So my interview list is made up of people who meet the knowledge + skills + performance test. After that I’m recruiting for attitude;

  • self motivated
  • interested in what they do
  • forward looking
  • happy

Yes, I recruit happy people. I’ve got to work with them, I don’t want a bunch of grumps. I want people who work hard, take responsibility, look forward, have a (mostly) positive attitude, and buckets of sense of humour.

So in an interview I will look for those characteristics – how they’ve handled bad stuff in the past, how they’ve processed it, are they positive about the future, can they laugh at themselves. Do they take fair responsibility for stuff that’s gone wrong, and perhaps more telling – for stuff that’s gone right.

One last thing I look at – how do the candidates treat the secretary. In my last recruiting round she brought each of the final candidates up for their second interview. The guy who was successful was not only courteous he talked to her about how long she’d been at the company, what she liked about her job. He let go of his own nerves and spoke to her like a person. She said he was the one to hire, and she was right.

I know my team are great, individually and together. I took part in recruiting all but one of them – it’d be odd if I thought otherwise.

image say yes