Need some pointers on how to conduct a great interview? Jeremy Kesby, a licensed investigator, shares how he gets the most from Q&As, plus his top interview tips.
What are three things that will help HR practitioners most in an interview?
Some of it depends on the type of interview you are conducting, but my top three general interview tips would be:
- Preparation: I don’t mean printing off a list of questions. This means digging down and thinking about the purpose of the interview, the personality of the interviewee, any anomalies you can identify ahead of time, and being prepared to answer any questions the interviewee might ask you.
- Decontamination: Ensure the interview environment is as free from distractions as possible – ie turn off mobile phones, make sure someone won’t walk into the room mid-interview, etc. Not only are distractions, well, distracting, but they affect the quality of information you gather.
- Observation: Keep your eyes on the prize. Constantly looking away from the interviewee is a massive rapport killer.
What are the best types of questions to ask in an interview?
Messy questioning has a huge effect on the quality of the responses you get. Consider the following exchange between an interviewer and a person of interest in an internal investigation involving suspected time sheet fraud:
- Q: So …. um, okay. [pause] Right … oh, yep, sorry, um, listen, [name], you, you’re, um, usually pretty good with recording your start and finish times accurately, aren’t you? Yeah?
- A: Yeah.
Painful, right? It’s an example of not only a poorly prepared interviewer, but contamination in the form of a leading question.
Now, consider the following exchange:
- Q: Describe the time sheet recording system for me.
- A: [Uninterrupted narrative response by interviewee]
- Q: Has that system ever changed during your time here?
- A: [Response]
- Q: How would you describe your adherence to the system?
- A: [Response]
One of the best interview tips I can share is to ask straightforward and open-ended questions. Not only do they get much more information from the interviewee, but they help the interviewer come off as competent.
What do people struggle with most when it comes to conducting interviews?
Most people believe they are pretty good at detecting deception because they might have sniffed out a few lies in the past. The truth is that the vast majority of us are no better than 50/50 at accurately separating fact from fiction. I’ve found that once people realise this, they can try to work around the bias.
You also conduct interview training courses. What do you cover in each session?
Our biases, erroneous beliefs and our tendency to pay little attention to the way we elicit information often cloud our interpretation of facts. Attendees need to have an awareness of cognitive biases before learning more advanced techniques.
We explore the various verbal and non-verbal responses that are found to be the most reliable to gauge authenticity. This is where the real improvements come in navigating our work and personal lives. Additionally, we explore how to formulate effective questions to get the most from each interview and how to detect deception.
Sounds heavy, but in the training we always have a lot of fun analysing video footage of famous liars and suspected liars. Attendees leave with their eyes wide open and with a very different approach to interpreting their daily interactions with others.
To find out more about AHRI’s “Interviewing Skills for Line Managers” course, as well as other AHRI human resources and management short courses, click here.