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Making those interviews connect

By Rob Starr, Big4.com Content Manager

Chad Thompson, Ph.D. leads the Consulting and Assessment practice at Taylor Strategy Partners, a talent acquisition and management consultancy based in Columbus, Ohio.  In this role, Chad works with clients to identify the competencies required for success and devises methods for measuring them in candidates and employees.  His research on pre-employment selection and Gen Y issues have been published in peer-reviewed journals and he is a frequent speaker at local and national conferences.  Chad earned a Ph.D. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from Wright State University and a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Wittenberg University.  You can reach him at chad.thompson@taylor-strategy.com or linkedin.com/chadthompsonphd.  He recently answered some of our questions about interview techniques that work well with career development.

How important is a connection with the interviewer?

Very important.  Establishing a rapport or connect with the interviewer is one of the more important things an interviewee can do.  An interviewer should be looking to build a rapport with you as well, but because of the potential legal issues than can arise during small talk (such as your nation of origin or religious background), they may more likely to get right into

Chad Thompson

Chad Thompson

the questioning.   In general,  you want to give the interviewer a good sense for who you are, not just what your technical proficiency might be.  Remember, these folks are looking for the degree to which you fit the culture of the firm as well.

What can you do to foster one? 

Be prepared and engaged.  People tend to be more interested in you when you demonstrate an interest in them, so asking good questions and having an excellent understanding of firm’s direction is important.  Ask about their role, how long they’ve been with the firm, what they like about working there, etc.

What are some of the worst things you can do in an interview?

Not answer the question being asked.  Often times, interviewers have a specific set of questions they would like to ask.  A great deal of time and effort has typically gone into developing these questions.  If you have prepared answers and things you want to be sure you talk about, make sure you answer the question before transitioning into your planned conversation track.  I think it goes without saying that not knowing anything about the role or the firm is an absolute no-no.  I’ve observed interviews where the person answers the question “What do you know about this job?” with “Not really anything…someone told me I would be good at it so I applied for it and here I am.”

What kinds of questions should you be asking?

You want to demonstrate an interest in the role and make sure that you have a full understanding of how you would be spending your days – after all, you are going to be spending about half of your waking hours there, so it would be a good idea to make sure it is a good fit.  A good direct question is: “I’m sure no day is typical, but what would an average day look like?”  I also would suggest getting some clarity around how performance is judged.  In general, I would stay away from asking about things like vacation days in the interview…there are much better times to get clarity on that topic. 

How important is body language and what needs to be done with this?

It is important to the extent that it communicates interest in the position versus disinterest and standoffishness.  I think body language can be one of those things people weigh too much, but I think being cognizant of how you are presenting yourself is important.  Are you conveying confidence?  Are you a presence in the room?  

What other general advice would you give someone for their interview?  

Be prepared.  Look up the person you are interviewing with on LinkedIn if you can.  Read recent press releases from the firm and have something smart to ask about.  Remember that your level of interest is at least as important as their evaluation of your technical skills.

 

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