Here are a few interviewing tips from Bob Edwards, who hosts a show on Sirius/XM Satellite Radio:
• Prepare well. Have at least a few questions based on job candidates’ employment or education ... or on their hometown.
• Make your subjects feel comfortable. See that they have a drink (if they’d like one) and ask whether they found your office without any trouble. The answers may shed light on your candidates and will help them feel at ease.
• Listen closely. It’s the most important thing to do and arguably the hardest. A funny example of failure to listen lives on in a skit by Bob Elliott and Ray Goulding, which simulates an interview with an expert on Komodo dragons. See the skit on YouTube.
• Don’t slavishly follow a list of questions. Try not to look at your notes. If you’re listening, you’ll get answers to some of your questions, and you also should hear things that will generate interesting new questions.
• Correct any mistakes you hear. Do it quickly and subtly. Don’t leave a factual error on the record.
• Stop and reroute the interview if the person keeps saying the same thing.
• Bring the candidates back to your question if they don’t really answer it. Say, “Let me rephrase that.” Do this only once.
• Ask open-ended questions. If you fail to do that and your visitor falls into “yes” and “no” answers, simply lean in and ask, “Why?” or “How?”
• Probe more deeply by asking short questions, such as “Really?” or “No!”
• Let the candidate do the talking. You don’t need to show how smart you are.
— Adapted from “The Art of Interviewing, with Bob Edwards,” National Press Club, Washington, D.C., Sept. 29, 2009.
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