- Interviews flourish as a ubiquitous presence in our professional lives.
- In virtually every occupation, one must encounter a form of pre-employment interrogation.
What are your three greatest strengths and weaknesses? Tell us about yourself. Why do you seek to leave your current employer? Describe a situation where you were challenged on the job and how did you overcome it.
Interviews flourish as a ubiquitous presence in our professional lives. In virtually every occupation, one must encounter a form of pre-employment interrogation.
From President Uhuru Kenyatta who campaigned for his executive position from voters, akin to a massive job interview, on down to almost every other post including cabinet secretaries, bank CEOs, accountants, guards, cleaners, and lawyers, we trudge through the motions of interviewing and being interviewed. But, how accurate a picture do we get or give during a one-time first meeting? Do strong interview skills correspond to solid work performance?
Unless in a tragic forced marriage, we uniformly across Kenya do not get wed our spouses after only one date. Why? We might fear that in the first date, the other person might lie, exaggerate their charm or humour, or try to match our own personality and preferences to impress us rather than give a perfect, clear, and honest impression of themselves.
Inasmuch, why do we feel that finding a good job candidate fit would also occur after only one meeting? Unfortunately, organisations across East Africa and around the world suffer because research shows limited relationships between acing an interview and one’s ability to actually succeed and meet or exceed expectations in one’s employment. We waste countless hours of time, effort and expense lining up and conducting interviews. But we would prove just or more successful if we only randomly assigned jobs once a computer programme would filter CVs only with those holding the right skill combinations.
Psychologist Noam Shpancer prolifically points to realities that the human brain is easily fooled during only one or two meetings. Our brain developed to thrive in primaeval times with biases that prefer others who can survive physical combat, hunt buffalo, and walk long distances after the game. In the modern world with complex societal and employment needs and expectations of others, it takes longer for us to wrap our mind around someone’s suitability as a colleague, partner, investor, or employee.
Therefore, as a job seeker, knowing that interview panels are flawed and easy to manipulate, what should you focus on? Iftekhar Naim, Iftekhar Tanveer, Daniel Gildea, and Mohammed Hoque looked at, besides one’s background skills experience on their CV, what are the five most important action items to do during an interview to guarantee success.
First, speak fluently like you are telling stories not rigidly answering questions with choppy starts, pauses, and stops. Second, use far fewer filler words such as: Ummm, well, uh, like, right, you know, etc. Third, utilise unique interesting words or phrases to peak the interview panels curiosity, such as: phenomenally, gratifyingly, well disbursed, scaled new heights. Fourth, smile more throughout the interview. Fifth, incorporate “we” statements rather than “I” statements in your responses.
Also, the same study found that interviewers psychologically made their decision about a job candidate during the very first question. As a result, job seekers should focus their energy around answering the first encounter spot on and taking into account the above five action steps.
So on the flip side, what action steps can leaders take to filter appropriate job seekers instead of traditional interviews that do not work?
Researchers Anna Heimann, Pia Ingold, Maike Debus, and Martin Kleinmann advocate that a useful activity for job interviews should instead focus on gauging a job seeker’s personality. While ethically a slippery slope since personality in people is largely fixed and unchangeable, organisations can train their human resources and hiring managers to watch out for certain personality traits so they can recruit and retain high performing organisation citizens who succeed at multiple levels.
Read online through SimplyPsychology.org or the Business Daily website about the OCEAN Big Five personality traits.
Then, throughout the interview, rather than asking about skills, plans, etc., as an alternative just hold regular conversation discussions instead of just questions after questions. Focus on hiring those with the highest levels of three of the OCEAN Big Five personality traits: conscientiousness, agreeableness, and intellectual curiosity or openness.
Workers higher in these personality traits hold a dramatically higher likelihood of employment and career success. You could test yourself for free here if you would like to see your own permanent personality: https://openpsychometrics.org/tests/IPIP-BFFM/. But do not give job candidates a written or online personality test because they could easily lie and give the answers that they suspect you want to hear.
So, you must converse with them during the job interview period and assess them on consciousness, agreeableness, and intellectual openness or curiosity.
Dr Scott may be reached on [email protected] or on Twitter: @ScottProfessor