Elite Executive column: You never get a second chance to make a first impression

Interviewing is an art, a skill and a dance. Should you, the interviewer, not be prepared before this process, be prepared to hire the wrong person and suffer the consequences both financially and commercially.

I have interviewed hundreds (maybe thousands) of people throughout my working career and if I have learnt anything at all, it’s that people lie.

Yes, shocking I know. But they do. So, how do you figure this out before you hire the candidate? Yes, reference checks should weed out any bad apples, but let’s not get that far...


To interview someone and really get to the nitty gritty of what they have done and what they can do for your business takes preparation and understanding of the types of interviews there are and how best to use them based on the position you are interviewing for and your business.

Here is a brief overview for you:

Let’s start with Structured Interviews.  There are two types – Behavioural and Situational.

Behavioural interview questions will involve asking the candidate to describe prior achievements and match those to what is required in the current job -  “Tell me about a time ...? ”.

Situational interviews present a job-related hypothetical situation – “What would you do if ...?”

A diligent interviewer will probe deeply to assess the veracity and thought process behind the stories told by the candidate.

Structured interviews are predictive even for jobs that are deemed unstructured and research shows that they cause both the candidates and the interviewers to have a better and fairer interview experience.

This type of interviewing can be time consuming as you need to write out the questions, test them and ensure interviewers stick to them. You may also need to refresh them on a regular basis so that candidates don’t compare notes.

Unstructured interviews only explain 14% of an employee’s performance whereby structured is 26%, therefore, probably not recommended as much.

Basing an individual’s work performance on questions such as “What is your greatest strength/weakness?” or “How many petrol stations are there in Sydney” to even worse “How many golf balls would fit into a 747?” is absolutely worthless and will have little (if any) ability to predict how a candidate will perform in a job.

I believe that the best indicator of how someone will perform in a job is to give them a sample piece of work, similar to that which they would do in the job, and assess their performance on that.

None of these techniques are perfect but combine a bit of each, ie: Structured, preferably leaning more towards behavioural with sample testing plus psychometric (general cognitive ability) testing, this will give you a balanced, objective overview of your potential future employee.

I hope this helps clear the fog of interviewing techniques for you, it’s a topic that can go on forever and I am sure there are great books out there that you can read on the subject, however, I recommend you call one of our qualified recruitment consultants and ask them to help guide you through the process.

In fact, they will do the majority of the work for you and help you structure an interview guide for the position you are recruiting for. One less thing to worry about in your busy day!