Secrets of the Super Interviewer

Make great impressions – you need them as much as they need you

Never forget that you need to make a good impression on the interviewee as much as they want to impress you. Good candidates will probably have more than one job offer so make sure you come across as the efficient, friendly, caring organisation your new employee (whoever they are) will want to work for. Remember interviews are always a willing buyer-willing seller situation.


Prepare to win

You should have the application form to hand and make it clear that you have read it and thought about it. You should also have the job description, personnel profile and any other information which the applicant may want to know about, such as the terms and conditions for the job. If you can ask relevant questions without referring to your forms it gives the impression that you’ve done your homework on that person. Subtle but really effective.


Great questions need Great answers

You should compliment your candidates when they answer your questions. “Thank you, That was a really considered answer”. This not only makes them feel good about themselves they will also warm to you and consequently be more open when answering following questions. How do you feel when someone pays you a sincere compliment?



Listening is not the same as waiting for your turn to speak. Listening has everything to do with how we use our brains, not just our ears, to take in the messages we are getting. It is an ability not just to hear, but to listen actively to:


·        What is being said

·        How it is being said (including the tone of voice and the body language)

·        What is not being said. Good listeners will practice to ensure real understanding.


In other words, listening is an active skill which requires the work of the eyes, ears and brain. Also, let them finish – don’t cut people off or try to interrupt. This could be an old habit which takes time to break is the height of rudeness.


Listen for ‘umbrella words’

Umbrella words are those that carry multiple meanings. Examples are adjectives and adverbs (descriptive words). Good communicators listen for these as they give clues to what the person really means. Every conversation is littered with them and your job is to get the candidate to expand so you understand fully what they mean. Use probes such as;

·        “You described yourself as approachable. What do you define as approachable?”

·        “You mentioned that flexibility was one of the things you love about your job. Can you expand on that for me please?”

 Don’t ask – TEST

Questions are a vital part of the interview but you may need to gather more evidence of a candidate’s competence to be able to perform. Many organisations use various methods of testing the candidate during the interview process. Examples of these can include the following:

  • Role-playing typical or difficult situations
  • Performance tests – manual, verbal or written depending on the type of position
  • Questionnaires
  • Doing the job (in simulated conditions)


Multi-answered questions – ‘Asking questions in threes’

You will be able to get better answers from your candidates if you ask questions that require your candidate to give 3 answers to one question. The value of this type of questioning is that they expose more of the candidate’s competencies than would be achieved using single answer questions. Some examples are listed below?

·        “What 3 areas do you perform best in your job?”

·        “List the 3 main priorities in your current role?”

·        “Which 3 areas of your work have you improved in the last 12 months?”