Businessman Mouth Shut By A NoteOne of the most common mistakes made by interviewers is talking too much during the interview. There are several quite obvious drawbacks to interviewers dominating the interview.

The first and most obvious one is that the interviewee’s ‘talk time’ may be reduced as a result, which means that the interviewer will basically glean less information from the candidate, potentially leading to a less accurate assessment of the candidate; also, the interviewer may miss weaknesses or fail to spot strengths.

The second is that if the interviewer is more focused on talking, this means he or she is less likely to be listening, once again leading to a poorer quality interview. The interviewer can even inadvertently answer the question for the candidate from talking too much.

So, I thought it would be appropriate to prepare an antidote to the curse of the over-talkative interviewer by outlining six interview assessment methods that can be usedthey rely on observation and little or no talking on the interviewer’s part.

1. Interview Presentation: This is a great interview and assessment tool that most of you know, and requires nothing more than asking the candidate to do a short presentation during the interview. This enables the interviewers to relax, kick back and sit quietly (guilt free) and allow the candidates to present to you on a topic that you have chosen in advance. This enable them to demonstrate their knowledge of a subject area and their past experience as well their ability to communicate, pitch, persuade, amuse and/or engage an audience. The beauty is that the interviewers don’t really have to say anything; they can observe, takes notes and identify the skills and traits that the candidates’ exhibit. Of course, there may be some interviewer questioning at the end, but the balance of talking will be firmly with the candidate.

2. Office Tour: This is a much underrated form of interview assessment, which requires the interviewer to do very little talking and much more listening and observing. After or even during the first or second interview, take your interviewee around to meet some of his/her potential peers or subordinates and have him interact with these people. Apart from making introductions you don’t have to say anything; just let the candidate interact and observe how well the candidate fits in and exhibits the required qualities of the role, such as communication skills, culture fit and relationship building.

3. Informal team lunch: Another way to assess your candidate is in a more informal team situation. Arrange a working lunch or relaxed team lunch with your interviewee (usually done when down to the final two/three candidates) and observe how your candidate interacts with his/her guard down and in a more random, unpredictable situation. This is another great way to see who the person really is without asking any direct interviewing question and by simply observing the candidate interacting with the team.

4. Aptitude and Skills Test: You can avoid getting sucked into detailed and somewhat inefficient technical questions, trying to assess their intellect and knowledge, by making use of aptitude or attainment tests instead. Let the test provider and the interviewee do all the work for you and simply assess the results. Incidentally, aptitudes tests are the 4th most reliable form of candidate assessment.

5. Work samples: These are the 3rd most reliable form of candidate assessment. So, why not ask your candidate to email you work samples or to talk you through some work samples during the interview? They should explain what methods they adopted to complete the work, how long it took, what it denotes and how it was received/what impact it made. Once again, apart from your intermittent questioning, the candidate does most of the talking.

6. Practical Exercise/In -Tray Exercise: This is where the candidate performs an actual job task that they would need to do as part of the job, such as dealing with an angry client (role play) in a controlled environmenthence why it is called an in-tray exercise. These are often done as part of assessments centres and are thought to be the most reliable candidate assessment tool. So, once again, why not include an in-tray exercise in your hiring process, which increases the candidate’s ‘doing time,’ minimizes your own ‘talk time,’ and maximizes observation and assessment time.

So, there are six assessment tools you can begin to incorporate into your interview process that will not only reduce, minimize and often eliminate excessive ‘talk time’ from the interviewer, but which can also potentially increase the predictive validity of your interview process.



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