Initiating an Intelligent Interview

A key skill that should never be underestimated is the ability to conduct a proper interview. There is an ever-present need to learn more about people, be it there skills, qualities, or personal tastes; but even when asking a person what should be a simple question, the answer may be appropriate, but not necessarily what was wanted.

When I asked “What are your prior experiences,” I meant working, not camping.

As such, it is best to follow certain guide lines when writing out a proper series of interview questions.

 

The only person in the interview is the person being asked the questions.

The key part of any interview is that it is strictly about a specific person. That person is asked questions and becomes the source of information, meaning all other people in the conversation matter the least. Take the following as an example:


What qualities and experience do you have that you think will improve the quality of our company?


 

This question makes the subject solely about the person being asked, and the topic is about what they can contribute. The company is not a person in this case, instead being a unit or an object. This way, the audience of this interview is not alienated in any way by having someone or something specific being added, but it still does not directly involve anybody outside of the questioned party.

 

Hypothetical situations are a good way of seeing how the person thinks.

A problem some might run into in an interview is that when asking a specific question, you may not get a reliable answer, be it that the person does not know, does not care, or is uncomfortable with answering.

“Let’s say a politician mocked a rival’s significant other and responded to protesters by saying ‘they started it’. What would think of them?”

Instead of asking a direct question such as “what are your thoughts on [event]?” it is possible to make up a similar situation, and ask the person’s thoughts on such. In a job interview, this is a good way to gauge how a potential employee will handle their responsibilities, such as in this example:

A disgruntled customer is arguing loudly with an employee, and neither seems to relent. As manager of that particular employee, how do you handle this situation?

The key here is being able to make up a variety of questions that can be applied to anybody, but whose answers only matter to the person being asked.

 

When in doubt, a lead-in question narrow down possible answers.

There is no shame in making a bit of conversation to lead into a certain question. An unnaturally asked question may disrupt the flow of the interview and make it seem less like information gathering, and more like a hidden agenda. Having one answer lead into a related, but more specific question fixes this issue.


Below is a link to a sample flow chart:

Interview flow chart


 

There is no doubt that hosting a proper interview is not easy. There is a lot of information that you have to collect, numerous questions that have to be prepared, and all of this has to be done in a way that it does not warding off the source from giving any useful answers. It takes some time and planning to know how to go about any of this, but if it is prepared well, then almost any kind of information can be (appropriately) drawn out of anybody.