Interviewing? (Be a Detective!)

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No matter which end of


the interview


you’re on…


     Few things can feel more satisfying than to win over the person at the other end of an interview by taking quiet control with championship communication skills.

     Active listening, thoughtful speaking and careful observations pay big dividends in employee/employer screening and hiring interviews, as well as in day-to-day operations.

     Yes, it’s true that nothing beats a great handshake, neat appearance, good grooming, eye-contact, and a bright smile for openers. But once you’re seated, you need a new set of tools.

     And no matter which end of the interview you’re on, be careful to not blow off a great first impression with lousy body language.

     When you sit back in your seat (especially in a sprawl and/or with hands clasped behind your head) you are giving off a superiority attitude that no one likes, even if you happen to be superior.

     If your arms, legs, ankles, hands, wrists are folded, you are communicating defensiveness, which will not work to your advantage, even if you are feeling that way.

     Open-ended questions provide the most revealing answers:

  • “Tell me what’s important to you that’s not on this resume?

  • What would you do if I gave you a million dollars cash right this minute?

  • Who or what has made the biggest difference in your life and how did that happen?

  • What would make you choose situation A over situation B even though B would offer you more money? (or better benefits?)

  • What’s the hardest work situation you’ve ever had to deal with?

  • How did you get started in this business anyway?”

are all good examples.

     WHAT the answers are to these or any other questions are only 20% important. HOW the answers are delivered accounts for 80% of what’s important! How rushed or deliberate are the responses?

     How serious or humorous are the answers? If humor is included, is it disparaging or self-effacing? In good taste? Does eye-contact have a focal point or is it more like staring? Leering? Avoiding?

Resist the temptation to fill the air with words.

Silence is a very useful and telling tool as long as it doesn’t go past the point of being intimidating.

In the same context, note taking is always a powerful practice; it keeps your attention focused; it supplements your memory banks; it’s flattering.


     Prompt, then listen. Never hesitate to clarify with paraphrasing (“Do I understand you correctly to mean . . . ?” Fill in your own words to check the meaning of something you’re in doubt about). Ask for examples. Ask for diagrams. Offer examples. Offer diagrams.

     Be careful with any job candidate who seems preoccupied with issues involving compensation, insurance, vacations, sick days, personal timeoffs, overtime pay, time reporting, lunch and coffee breaks. If you’re a candidate, be careful of a prospective employer who doesn’t volunteer this information up front.  

     When you can be prepared to the point where the interview is something you look forward to, you are likely to be ready to communicate effectively no matter which end of it you’re on. When you can be a detective during the interview, and make adjustments along the way, you’ll be increasing your odds for success regardless of whether you’re asking or answering.   


Thanks for visiting. Go for your goals! God Bless You!

Make today a GREAT day for someone! 

One comment so far

One Comment to “Interviewing? (Be a Detective!)”

  1. […] Open-ended questions put an applicant more at ease than requests for formal recitations of what you already have in front of you on paper, or can easily find out.  […]

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