Telephone and video Interview Tips

70% of graduate interviews now include a telephone interview and 42% of companies now use video conferencing interviews when seeking to hire senior executives.

These statistics came as no surprise to me but when a friend asked me for advice on both techniques I thought I would share the info with my blog followers. Here’s the first with ten tips on handling a telephone interview and within the next few days I’ll upload more tips on managing the video interview.

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66% of hiring managers regret their decision

This week I’ve been talking to two businesses that are expanding about their interview programmes.

66% of hiring managers regret their decision
Both were surprised when I told them that 66% of hiring managers regret their interview based decisions. When you consider the vast sums of money that organisations invest in their recruitment process one has to wonder what’s wrong. The problem is that, despite some having very prescriptive systems, most companies interview and select their new hires very badly. In fact around 40% of new hires go on to fail to deliver the results anticipated.

Top talent walks away
The biggest problem is that many managers will hire on whether they like the person. Then again I know of some interviewers that like to place a lot of pressure on candidates. Only a desperate job hunter will put up with this technique and most “top talent” will simply walk away. The lesson here is that asking questions to make them squirm is ineffective and counter productive.

Future tense questions reveals capability more effectively
Then again most questions are “past tense” and historical questions and a well prepared candidate can shine.
I always suggest asking most quwestions in the future tense that include actions that they would use in the job on offer. It becomes easier to to assess capability for the job that needs doing.

Much, much more revealing
Posing a top talent candidate a real and actual business problem and holding a discussion and debate with them using a white board to record detail and thought processes will reveal much more about “thinking, compatability and ability” than just posing questions. It may take longer, it may be less structured than you currently use but it is also likely to be much, much more revealing.

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Silly Interview Questions

Each week I like to take time to catch up on research reading. So last night I reread Anne Fisher’s article in FORTUNE/CNN Where she talks about interviewers resorting to desperate
measures in their efforts to narrow the field of candidates. It strikes me that interviewers and company’s will experiment with interview techniques too often and without understanding what they will do with the answers. Like having too many interviews or a number of personality tests.

Silly Questions
Anyway, back to the silly questions. In most
cases the interviewers were reported to be more interested in how candidates responded, identified their thought processes and seeing if they kept their cool. Some of the questions, however, are truly bizarre!
Here’s three of my favourites:

“Using a scale of 1 to 10, rate yourself on how weird you are.” Capital One (COF)

“Explain quantum electrodynamics in two minutes, starting now.” Intel (INTC)

“How many balloons would fit in this room?”  PricewaterhouseCoopers

Candidates questions
What would the reaction be, I wonder, if the tables were turned and candidates started to do the same? With that in mind:
What would be the questions you might be tempted to ask an interviewer for a job?

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“How *!* Much?”

Did you see Simon Swans article in the latest edition of Management Today*? Simon talks about the importance of interviewing and quotes Harvard University research that says that new hire failure costs can amount to five times salary. I thought the costs understated and suspect that Simon’s probably taken a fixed cost of salary and direct expenses but not included the lost opportunity costs that result from a new hire failure.

At this point you probably might discount my own research as being inflated, if I included it here, so let me point to Brad Smart’s book “Topgrading” ,as evidence, where he wrote that his research into new hire failure could amount to 24 times the salary. Much of these come from lost opportunities which, depending upon position, include lost sales, projects not met and so on

I thought it interesting that Simon’s solutions to the problem was to ensure that the Resume (CV) was accurate and that the interview process robust. All good stuff. However, a crucial part of the process is the six months that a company spends integrating the individual into the new job. 

* 5th August 2011

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More interviews equals even better hires…right?

I’ve recently heard suggestions that the
more interviews and hoops candidates are expected to jump through…the
better the final quality of hire. Then a similar question was asked on LinkedIn and I thought I would repeat the answer in my blog.

The proposition is WRONG 

Very sorry, but it’s wrong. Let me clarify: I have spent the last ten years talking to CEO’s about
hiring and integrating people into their firm faster and more
profitably. Asking a candidate to do more and more tests and interviews simply clouds the process. Two interviews, one assessment and a follow up meeting to negotiate terms is enough. In my experience having a new hire failure or poor hires has more to do
with the lack of interview experience by the interviewer, an inability of interviewer to assess candidates correctly and
poor integration by the business.

Interviewers training
Directors that interview people for a job do so about two or three times
a year. Hardly enough time to gain great expertise or to maintain that
ability. This may be a reason why businesses rely on more and more interviews and tests. However, again in
my experience, tests are only as good as the ability to understand the
results. (Too many people will fix on one statistic from a test and base their
choice on that as opposed to a rounded assessment).

One solution is to encourage interviewers to undergo some training
before undertaking important interviews. Then to have some experts on
the interview panel that can provide focussed views.

Cost of failed hire can be shedloads of money off the bottom line

Interestingly the COSTS of NEW HIRE FAILURE can be huge and my research
confirms Brad Smart’s research that the cost of failure can range from
10 – 24 times salary.

So if you’re hiring at a salary of $45,000, choose a multiple and see how much a new hire failure could cost your business!


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What questions will you be answering?

Some weeks ago I was speaking to a group of Directors about to undertake interviews for a senior sales position within their business. They had collected a great list of candidates to interview.

Don’t lose the ideal candidate to the competition
After reviewing the characteristics of the ideal candidate they were looking for, the competencies that were needed to meet the job and the results expected I asked, “And what questions do you expect to be asked by the candidates and how have you planned to respond”.

I was met with a stony silence. The interviewers considered that they were in a prime position as having a job to offer with jobs being so difficult to find. That was until I observed that they might be upset if they found the ideal candidate, who then chose to join their competitor’s business because they did a better job at “selling” the attractions of working for their firm, it’s career path, benefits and culture to their ideal candidate.

To help I shared the video on the questions a candidate should ask the interviewer that we made a few month ago and it’s shared here. There followed a review of the information being given to the candidates to make the company more attractive to the “ideal candidate” they hoped to attract to them.

“This firm sounded much more attractive”

Yesterday, I heard that their ideal candidate had confessed to his new boss that he had been interviewed by their competitor and had been offered a similar job. The reason for not taking the competitor’s offer was “because this firm sounded so much more attractive to work for”.

Questions you should ask the interviewer

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It’s time to stop job interviews in public

On three occasions last week I found myself in a hotel lounge listening to a job interview being conducted at the next table. Given my interest in job transition I found it difficult to ignore what I was listening to.

What amazed me was the detail that some questions went into and forced the candidate to talk about “their weaknesses”, “failings” and so on in public. On one occasion I was even able to identify a past employer as well as the individual’s past boss.

I think that it’s time that head-hunters, recruitment companies and job search companies adopt a policy and practice that all job interviews or exploratory interviews are held behind closed doors.

It would be:

  1. professional,
  2. provide appropriate confidentiality,
  3. deliver a better result in that the candidate would be more relaxed
  4. Prevents head-hunters that do interview in public looking “Cheap”

I personally feel that if I were to recruit a search company to find suitable senior staff for my company I would question the professionalism of a search company and the fees that they were charging if interviews were conducted in public and believe that the industry should outlaw such practices.

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