Eight Characteristics of Effective Interviewing

Facing an interview is a challenge that still renders many otherwise strong people weak at the knees. Here are some tips on attitude I share with participants in my workshop “The Art & Science of Effective Interviewing”. 

Very often, the decision to hire is made in the first two minutes. What can you do as an interviewee to make – and keep – a good impression?

To all the advice on grooming, dress, handshake, and body language, I advocate that the job seeker cultivate a style that includes:

  1. Four Characteristics of “Voice”
  2. Four Characteristics of “Presence”

The Four Characteristics of Voice (or attitude) are:

Mutual respect
“On message”

Entrepreneurial means a “can do”, proactive, problem-solving attitude. You demonstrate interest and curiosity about the prospective employer’s business and concerns (but of course you go in having done as much research as possible on the business and its concerns).

Mutual respect means that you know what you can do and you know what they can do and you respect each other’s knowledge – neither of you is belittled or aggrandized.

“On message” means that you make sure you deliver the core messages you have prepared about your competencies, skills, and the your to use them to benefit your employer. You don’t get sidetracked into irrelevancies once the interview has begun.

The Four Characteristics of Presence are:

Be easy to talk to
Be easy to understand
50:50 talk/listen
20 sec to 2 min talk rule

These characteristics are interrelated. Someone who is easy to talk to is actually having a conversation with the interviewer, not a suffering through a stilted interrogation session where they answer in monosyllables or mumbles. They make sure to observe the 50:50 rule; they listen as much as they talk. They slow down and inflect words clearly, whether they are a native speaker of English, or have a different mother tongue.

The 20 second to 2 minute talk rule means you avoid giving an answer longer than two minutes or shorter than 20 seconds (For more on this and other interview tips, refer to Richard Bolles’ “What Colour is Your Parachute” .)

If we boiled these eight characteristics down to one principle, it would be to go into the interview as if going into a conversation with a peer you respect but don’t see every day. Do what is in your power to foster and build the relationship between you, giving them what they need to make a decision, and making sure you get what you need to make a decision.

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One Response to Eight Characteristics of Effective Interviewing

  1. This message is sooooooo timely. The idea is that you actually make your first impression while you are waiting for the interviewer to come get you. If, for example, the VP sends an assistant to pick you up from the lobby to take you to the office, make sure that your conversation is very pleasant and convivial. The VP or hiring manager will ask the assistant about their “first impressions” of you. You need to be interested, understated, confident, pleasant and have an easy manner about you. They already know that you are nervous, so don’t worry. The best advice that Jennifer and I can give you is to SMILE. You make them feel good and yourself feel more confident too.Good luck to all job seekers! YOU CAN DO IT!

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