I love it when an opportunity presents itself to listen in on a “normal” interview. Arriving early for an appointment at a Starbuck’s in the Denver area, I was enjoying an amazing cup of black tea as the store manager began interviewing for a potential staff member. As effective interviewing is my passion, I was fascinated by the exchange I observed.
First, the candidate entered the Starbucks as I did at 12:45. She sat nervously waiting for 15 minutes to begin the interview for her next potential position. While the manager did begin the interview at exactly 1:00 (kudos to her) a huge opportunity to set up the candidate for immediate success was missed. An A-list candidate will ALWAYS be 15 minutes early for an interview, especially for a position they are really interested in. If the interviewer actually leaves them waiting for 15 minutes, the candidate only becomes more nervous, thus increasing the chances to blow the interview.
Second, the manager talked for the entire interview, occasionally glancing at the resume of the candidate. The candidate very dutifully nodded her head (she will need a massage after this!) and laughed at all the manager’s jokes. In a truly effective interview, the hiring manager should be engaging in active listening, rather than explaining the position and requirements. If the manager is talking rather than asking questions, the candidate does not have the chance to share skills, abilities, and personality with the manager. By not listening, the manager really has very little knowledge about the applicant or how they can truly contribute to the team.
Third, the manager got up and left the table twice to handle other issues and the candidate was left sitting by herself. Now I realize life can be full of interruptions. However, during an interview, the only focus should be around the task at hand: assessing the skill set and cultural fit of the potential new employee. Continuous interruptions reduce the hiring manager’s ability to determine fit and the candidate’s confidence about the job environment.
Fourth, the manager interviewed this woman in front of an audience of roughly 10 people waiting for their coffee drinks. The interview lasted 42 minutes. So for 42 minutes this candidate was not only vulnerable and exposed to a hiring manager, but to an entire audience of people. Don’t hold interviews in public, high traffic areas. Respect is a cornerstone for any great relationship and public interviews are very disrespectful.
Last, but certainly not least, the manager discussed the highpoints of the candidate with another worker behind the counter, again in front of an audience. Do I really need to point out how disrespectful this is?
After my observances, I realized that this is a perfect example of a “normal” interview, meaning that most people conduct interviews just like this and wonder why they can’t hire good people. I honestly do not believe this hiring manager was even aware of her interviewing style and its ineffectiveness towards hiring a great employee. My big question is this: Was this manager really ever taught how to conduct an interview? Did she feel supported through the process, so that she could be successful in her hiring decisions? Did she really have the tools and environment needed to be successful in her decision making process?
Employers who truly desire amazing staff need to support their hiring managers by teaching them how to interview. Give them the proper tools to find the next generation of A-list employees needed to grow the business. This is the gift that keeps on giving.