When I teach interviewing, many people want to know how to shorten their interviews. They think they spend too much time interviewing candidates. When I probe a little more, here’s what I find.
- Many people spend 30 minutes or less in the interview.
- They try to “sell” the organization in the interview.
- They ask only superficial questions and don’t ask follow-up questions.
- They want to know what questions the candidates have–even if they haven’t asked the candidate any questions yet.
I generally need 45 minutes to interview a candidate with any experience. I don’t sell the candidate; I let my questions do that for me. I ask candidates about their questions at the end of my 45 minutes.Here’s how I structure my interviews:
- First 30 seconds to one minute (I don’t time this): Greet the candidate, walk the candidate to our private area, ask innocuous questions until we arrive at the private area for the interview.
- Next 20 minutes: ask questions, in a conversational fashion, with the candidate. Focus on behavior-description questions.
- Check on how I’m proceeding with the interview. Do I need to speed up/slow down? If I need to slow down, I’ll ask if the candidate has questions. If I need to speed up, I’ll mentally review the last few minutes and see if I’ve allowed the candidate to ramble on or move to a tangent. If so, I think about how I’ll ask the candidate to tighten his/her responses.
- Next 20 minutes: Finish asking my behavior-description questions.
- Last 5 minutes. Ask if candidate has any questions. Start moving candidate to next interviewer.
If you ask behavior-description questions and build one off another, it’s easy to use 45 minutes and to feel as if you’re using the time well.So review how you’ve been interviewing and see if structuring your interview time might change what you do.