How to Interview at a Super Bowl Level

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little boy watching the super bowl with his father and uncleSuper Bowl XLVIII attracted about 111.5 million people, and unfortunately, the show they were looking for just wasn’t there. Instead, viewers watched as the Dever Broncos struggled to keep up with a high-energy and prepared Seattle Seahawk defense. The Broncos approached the Super Bowl as though it were just another game and the Seahawks came out top dog because of it.

Lack of preparation is a big mistake and entering every interview as though it is the same as the last can be even more devastating. Remember, we aren’t machines and having a set in stone interview plan just won’t work for all your candidates.

Do your research

It’s expected if interviewees are serious about the positions you’re offering, they do their research. In fact, any tip list puts that as No. 1 on the things to do before a big interview.

While your potential candidates are scouring your website for all those mission statements and product lines, you should be reading up on the material they have provided you. Resumes, portfolios and LinkedIn pages should not only be a place to start the conversation. Those resources give insight into the person you’re about to bring into your office and can inspire questions that will shine light on your candidate’s fantastic or not so fantastic qualities. Plus, they give you valuable insight into culture as well as skills, which can make or break the interview from a “top talent” perspective.

TO DO: Before your next interview, install mail plugin Rapportive to gain the inside track on your candidates’ social accounts. Then make a note to bring up something interesting from their LinkedIn profile during your interviews (what groups they belong to, what school they graduated from, their volunteer activity).

You aren’t a machine and neither is your candidate

It’s easy to fall victim to repetition, but every candidate that wants to fill the position will respond to your carefully thought-out questions differently. In other words, the interview isn’t the end all be all. Just because they aren’t calm and collected in the hot seat, doesn’t mean they have nothing to offer. Likewise, just because their resume and experience seem out of this world, doesn’t mean you’ve got the next employee of the month. Remember, you can train for the skills that seem to be a bit lackluster, but you can’t mold a candidate’s attitude to fit your company culture.

TO DO: During your next interview, think about the present question and the response you’re receiving. Take quick notes that will help jog your memory and be responsive. If your candidate brings up a point that you want to know more about, ask. There’s no shame in going a little off track, especially if the answer will provide you more background on the person you’re bringing into your offices. Overall, let the interview be organic!

Don’t run the show

Within 12 seconds of the big game, the Seahawks had taken the lead and never looked back. The Broncos tried, but they never found a way to answer Seattle’s aggression. While this makes for an interesting football record, it isn’t a great hiring technique. The whole point of an interview is developing great conversation and landing an amazing new employee. If you’re doing all the talking, you’re missing the opportunity to build an understanding of the person behind the resume.

TO DO: In your next interview, try to be cognizant of how often you’re talking. Are you letting the candidate answer your question fully? Is he or she understanding the question? Even more, you may simply have a great fibber in your midst.

Passion wins

When shaking a potential hire’s hand, you’re looking for a certain grasp. Why? Because when you first meet a person, you want to learn as much as you can about them. From the handshake to the job history, every aspect is a clue to understanding what will and won’t work in your company.

When a candidate doesn’t show a lick of knowledge about your company, it’s an instant turn off. Likewise, the way you carry yourself as a current employee could be turning candidates away. Just being pleasant isn’t enough. Why should the candidate want to be a part of your team?

Chances are candidates know that a third of the interviewers they meet with have decided within 90 seconds if they are interested in offering a job. First impressions are huge and you aren’t the only one making them. Job offers are still mutual relationships, so if you’re not passionate about the company, how can that qualified candidate want to join?

TO DO: Before your next interview, think about what it is that makes you love your job. Is it the people in the office? Is it the office environment? Is it all the great things your company does for the community? Whatever it is, having pride in your work will undoubtedly spark interest in the candidates you want to extend a job offer.

When all is said and done, both people in an interview have to have their heads in the game. Both have similar goals, just on opposite ends of the field. Like a team watching their opponent’s tape, you could learn a thing or two from your candidate’s techniques.

Read more in Interview Tips

Marissa Litty is the marketing assistant at Red Branch Media, a marketing and advertising firm that serves the Human Resources and Recruiting markets. Red Branch Media has grown from a simple consultancy to a full-service B2B marketing agency. Litty brings experience in event planning, design and advertising and enjoys writing about technology and mobile.
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