Interviewing for impact and personal development
How conducting job interviews increases your impact on the business and benefits your professional development.
Who am I to judge?
When I started interviewing I found it hugely uncomfortable. There I am, face to face with a nice person that has spent years learning their craft, has dealt with familiar problems, faced familiar challenges. They are excited, nervous, well prepared and eager. Who am I to judge and maybe tell them they are not good enough to join my team?
Saying NO as a service
It’s instructive to make mistakes, especially when hiring for your own team. It’s not fun to see someone struggle in a role. For them it’s a very bad and damaging experience. On the team it has a negative impact and the time spent dealing with underperformance is costly for the company.
So what does it mean whenwe decline a candidate? I think it is: Based on what we’ve seen in these few hours we think there is a high risk that you will not be successful in the role we are trying to fill. That’s all. They can still be great people and valuable professionals. They can thrive in different roles in other companies. Our way is not the only way. And we don’t pretend to judge the whole person. We are simply trying to protect them and ourselves from many months of bad experiences.
Other than in interviewing, how often do you get the chance to help someone avoid wasting a year of their life?
Checking your bias
Interviewing forces you to think about what it takes to succeed in a role, how to assess it and how to mentally separate relevant from irrelevant information. A nervous gesture that puts you off, or a shirt you would not have put on at gunpoint, such things should not influence your hiring decisions. You attempt to prioritize the suitable over the likeable. Proven capabilities over preferences. This trains you to check your biases. A very important training for professionals in any role.
Understanding your craft
What does it mean to be good in your craft? What skills are fundamental and hard to acquire and what can be picked up with low effort. Interviewing is rubber-ducking your craft, deepening your understanding of it. And every person you assess also serves as a mirror for your self reflection.
Leading the conversation
An interview is not a free conversation. Candidates are led along the questions that help you make your assessment. Some candidates need to be reassured, others slowed down. You may need to reformulate your question to bridge cultural differences. Or adjust your style of communication. And all this needs to be done quickly to get to a complete picture in the time you have.
These are fairly general skills you are practicing, that will serve you well, no matter where your career takes you.
You train such skills by first shadowing more experienced interviewers, by following the training available and then by interviewing alongside a colleague, observing their technique and getting feedback on your own.
Brace for impact
With a team of people interviewing multiple candidates we can easily invest over 40 hours of interviewers time to get a hire, and sometimes much more. It can be discouraging to do a few interviews in sequence without a hire. You may feel your time could be spent differently with bigger impact.
But the math for this is not hard.. When we make a successful hire and that person stays with the company for five years they will contribute 9 000 hours of their time to our success. That’s a pretty good return on the interviewer time that was invested. Does everything you do in your work week give such returns?
The people that do interviewing are not people that struggle to find other things to do. They simply understand this impressive force multiplication.