The Job Interview

Basic Business Cents

The purpose of a job interview is to see if there is a fit between the job applicant and the open position, plain and simple. The applicant wants a job and the employer wants to fill an opening. Both parties share the responsibility to make this determination. Both parties should avoid putting the other in a corner, intimidating them, or monopolizing the conversation. A good interview will result in a mutual decision to the satisfaction of both.

It goes without saying that both parties need to do their homework. The applicant can go to the employer’s website and learn about them. They can query their network for both tangible and intangible information. This will help them develop their set of clarifying questions like:

  • What are the key traits desired for someone in this position
  • What would a typical day look like
  • How much responsibility does this position have
  • What are the objectives that management has for someone in this position
  • What are the challenges to be expected
  • What training will be provided
  • What are the growth opportunities
    • For the company
    • For the person in the position

The employer also needs to do homework by preparing a script of questions and ask the same questions of all applicants. In this way, the applicants can be compared objectively. A typical set of questions includes:

  • What type of work do you enjoy doing
  • What provides satisfaction from your work
  • What is the ideal position for you
  • What have you accomplished that you are most proud of
    • As part of a team
    • As a leader
    • As an individual contributor
  • What would you like to be doing at the peak of your career
    • Will this position be a step in getting there
    • What training or experience will help you achieve your goal

There should be an equal number of questions from both parties and an equal amount of time spent talking by each.

There are some questions the employer is NOT allowed to ask as determined by the federal and state Departments of Labor such as:

  • Do you have an arrest record
  • What does your spouse do
  • Tell me about your personal attributes like height and weight
  • What is your ethnic background, race, or religion
  • What is your health history or do you have any physical impairments
  • Have you had any addiction habits with drugs or alcohol
  • Have you had any mental health problems

Both parties need to remember that the interview is a collaborative effort to see if there is a fit. The decision to hire should mean that the position is a fit for the applicant to advance toward his/her long-term goal and to provide pride, satisfaction, and happiness along the way. The fit for the company is that the applicant will more than fulfill the present needs and add to the talent and capability in the company for the future.

If both parties reach the decision that they have a fit, then a good decision can be made to the mutual satisfaction of everyone.