Wednesday, February 17, 2016

10 Things I Look For When I Interview People

What do I look for in my candidates? To start off with, let me point out there is a slight difference between wearing the hat of a Recruitment Consultant/Headhunter for an employment agency and that of the Interviewer/Hiring Manager for an internal hire. Here’s why: the Recruitment Consultant has more than one client/employer that he/she is servicing as compared to a Hiring Manager that interviews a candidate for a specific job and position. In the latter, certain specific behaviors in line with the culture of the company would be a very important factor to look out for, which may not be the case for a Recruitment Consultant.

For someone donning the hat of a Recruitment Consultant, the things I look for would be more general in nature and any serious job seeker would have the following checked:

  1. Well-groomed – say whatever you like but good grooming gives candidates a great advantage. To me, this is a simple principle. People that take time to choose what to wear for interviews are serious job seekers and give respect to the occasion. So, I say thumbs up to ladies that wear make-up and men that choose to wear a tie even under a hot day. Nothing beats a good first impression!
  2. Display a “likeable” disposition – likeable does not mean being charming or cute or even trying to flirt with the interviewer. It simply means wearing a genuine smile, be polite, make the right greetings, wait before you are asked to sit, good eye contact and etc. No one is totally comfortable with strangers, including the interviewers. A smile can melt ice and it’s true. So before any question is asked, smile!
  3. Good posture – do not underestimate the power of good posture. It projects the person’s energy and enthusiasm. If you can’t even sit upright during an interview, you probably can’t do that on any occasion. This reason alone may not cut you off immediately but you certainly would not want your interviewer to doubt your personality.
  4. Clear expression of thoughts – verbal communication is key to a successful interview. You may have a lot of knowledge and experience but if you are unable to express them clearly, you lose marks. Technical people such as Programmers and Engineers seem to struggle quite a bit in this aspect. To be able to explain clearly is a skill. If you know this is your weakness, my advice is that you take time to practice it before hand. Write them down or find a partner to practice. If your partner can’t understand what you are sharing, most likely the interviewer can't too.  
  5. Quiet confidence – Being confident does not mean you have to shout every word you speak. Quiet confidence comes from within. If you know your stuff and able to explain it well, you will naturally exudes confidence. In other words, this ties closely with what you know and your ability to communicate that.
  6. Answer the questions posed – seems an easy feat, isn’t it? Unfortunately, some candidates choose to give answers to their own questions. And it can be rather embarrassing because it means two things: either you are not listening or you did listen but were not able to comprehend what was asked. My advice is if in doubt, do not be afraid to ask the interviewer to clarify the question.
  7. Listen then speak– although in an interview setting, the candidates are expected to speak more than the interviewer but that does not mean you do not know when to stop and listen. Speak up only when you are given the cue. A bad habit is when the candidate interjects on every sentence or trying to finish off the question by the interviewer. 
  8. A few good stories – arm yourself with some good stories. Questions such as “What was your greatest achievement?” “Please elaborate a challenging task that you managed to overcome” and etc. would require you to tell a story from your past. 
  9. Good preparation – it means you bring along your updated resume, photo, original and copied certificates, and other related documents. 
  10. Ask appropriate questions – I appreciate candidates that ask questions, albeit appropriate ones. That shows the candidate had done some thorough thinking before the interview, an indication that he/she is serious about the job.

The key is this: work with your Recruitment Consultants or Headhunters by being cooperative. Your goal is to ensure you are “marketable”.