Screening vs. Hiring Interviews

DIFFERENT INTERVIEWERS WITH DIFFERENT AGENDAS

We are often asked whether the interview framework is applicable to screening as well as to hiring interviews.  The answer is that it applies to both.  Some differences between the two types of interviewers are only minor variations on a theme rather than a completely new one.

In the screening process, you are liable to encounter the executive search consultant and then the human resource professional.  Their roles are to address professional skills, personal characteristics, and overall fit, as well as to screen out candidates so that the hiring manager has to deal with only a small pool of highly qualified applicants.  High on their list are thoroughness, efficiency, and time management.  Their preferred styles of interviewing are often to control the meeting by asking open ended questions having to do with your skills and background and then evaluating your answers (i.e., looking for reasons to eliminate you).  If the screening interviewer were only evaluating skills versus a job specification, you might never accomplish any of your agenda.  Evaluating personal characteristics and overall fit, however, requires dialog, and dialog affords you opportunities to accomplish your agenda as well.  Still, keep in mind that under normal circumstances it will be more difficult for you to move the discussion toward a 50-50 percent business discussion with a screening interviewer than with a hiring interviewer.  Your goal is to do the best you can.

The hiring interviewer is usually a line manager who is concerned with finding someone who can perform successfully in the job and who is an excellent fit with those in the company and department.  She may begin the interview in a question/answer manner, but often engages in a dialog to find out about you and your skills.  The reason for this is that she has a real business need to have a partner (or subordinate) to carry out the mission of the organization.  She is less concerned with interviewing procedure than with finding the right person to assist her.  This willingness to engage in a business dialog makes it much easier for you to accomplish your agenda.  It also creates a more stimulating environment for both you and the interviewer.

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