What are We Trying to Do?
You may be working with the concept that the purpose of an interview is to choose the best person, from among those who have applied and you have decided to meet, for the position you are attempting to fill. If you are, we suggest you challenge this concept.
The goal of an interview is to gain an abundance, or even a surplus of meaning, knowledge and understanding about each applicant with whom you meet. You gather this information from the person during the course of a conversation with him or her and use this information to draw inferences, understanding and intelligence. Later, you calculate what this information means and might predict about the candidate, specifically how he or she will likely perform in your business or organization. If you have a mature process and sufficient resources, you will do this calculation in a dialogue with others in your company who have also interviewed the candidate. You resist the inclination in most cases.(*) to make an instant decision about the candidate until you have recapped the experience either by yourself or with others. There are a few times when this process can be shortened. One is when you realize the person with whom you are conversing is clearly not qualified or suited for the role. The other is when you become convinced the person is someone who you, “can’t let get away.” But these moments are rare if your screening process is sound and you have more than one high quality candidate to interview. Delaying your decision on the candidate – waiting until later before you make a commitment – gives you time to consider the stories you have heard, connect them with each other, assess values alignments and make a thoughtful and deeply informed decision.
[* Once when an interview process ran late, a candidate was so furious about the wait he loudly berated the company and me for having treated him so unprofessionally. We had not even yet sat down. In mid-rage, he interrupted himself to suggest the interview about to begin could not possibly succeed. I agreed and showed him out.]
Peace and Courage,