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9 Interview Tips Leaders Use For Picking Winners

Interview Process

Are you a pretty smart manager? I bet that you probably are!

But, when hiring new employees for your team, are you being smart in the interview process? Do you REALLY know how to conduct an interview so that you pick a winner every time?

Test Your Smarts

Test your interview smarts by answering these questions: Yes or No:

  1. When interviewing candidates I usually talk 50-75% of the time. Yes or No?
  2. I am very supportive, engaging and encouraging to candidates when interviewing them. I make sure they feel good about their answers. Yes or No?
  3. I never push the candidate for clarification if they give vague answers, I don’t want to be too tough. Yes or No?

If you answered Yes to any of these questions your current interview process could be  keeping you from picking winners every time.

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Smarty Pants

Smart managers are often times very smart. They typically have strong product knowledge or have been successful in lower positions where they work. You  know the company and you work well with others. You ARE smart. That is why you were promoted to leadership.

But some very smart managers fall short in an extremely important part of their jobs; in the interview process. This is typically due to poor training. Or because of busy schedules and fast thinking, they tend to:


9 Interview Tips

Here are nine important interview tips.

These are things you should do every time you interview. They ARE basic in nature, but they WILL increase your ability to pick a winner every time.

1.  Start and end on time
2.  Clarify & explain the overall interview process
3.  Do not allow outside interruptions
4.  Encourage candidate to talk: Candidate should talk: 75-80% of the time!
5.  Maintain eye contact
6.  Use the candidate’s name
7.  Allow silence
8.  Be pleasant, but response-neutral
9. Listen aggressively


Set It Up Right

Running to MeetingsInterview tips 1-3 above are basic and are often missed because smart managers are very busy and in demand. If you want to hire right, you must make interviewing potential team members a priority.

When interviewing – do not sandwich the interview into an already overbooked calendar. Find a way to clear time before the interview so that you can prepare and plan your interview questions. Also schedule some time after the interview so you can summarize your findings and plan the next steps.

During the interview you must eliminate ALL interruptions — your phone, cell, email and your door.

Hiring Wrong is Expensive

To motivate yourself to take more time for interviewing – keep in mind that turnover costs are conservatively estimated at approximately 1-1/2 times a person’s salary. For example, the time spent interviewing to fill a technical position that pays $70,000 is really a $105,000+ project.

Say It Out Loud 10 Times…

Take a look at how to conduct an interview tip #4. Circle it, highlight it, and repeat it ten times out loud.

The candidate should do most of the talking.

In ineffective interviews the interviewer talks 50-80% of the time which is the exact opposite of what you need to be doing. Talking too much usually stems from:

  • a lack of preparation
  • from moving fast from meeting to meeting
  • a lack of awareness
  • nervousness

In a one hour interview the candidate would talk 50 minutes, you would talk 10 minutes. Changing this one error – will dramatically change your interviewing success.

You’re Not Talking, But You ARE Busy

And while the candidate is answering your interview questions, providing specific examples to your competency, behavioral-based questions, you are very busy. Even though you are not talking you are not passively sitting there.

You are focused on tuning into the candidate by making eye contact, letting the silences stand as needed, remaining response-neutral and listening aggressively.

Tips 5 through 9 ensure that you are focused on the interview, and on what the candidate is saying, and not thinking about the 25,000 other things you have on your mind.


You want to allow silence to give the candidate time to think.

If you rush through  silence you may miss a great answer or you may miss great insight into the fact that the candidate cannot think of any examples. No or poor examples this tells you that he or she may not have strength in that area.

Let the silence stand – do not rush through it.

Don’t “Hug” Them

What about tip #8: “Be pleasant, but response-neutral” – do you know what that looks like?

Let me show you. Try this with me:

Take a moment now and think of your child or if you don’t have kids, think of your best friend or a favorite pet.

Now imagine that this person or pet is in front of you and they are trying to get your attention. I want you to smile broadly, nod your head, lean in and give this person or pet a big hug.

THAT is the exact opposite of being response-neutral.

Remember, you are in an interview. You are using your company’s dollars to hire the best candidate.

If you hire the wrong candidate you could make the next 6 months of your life a living nightmare, or at the least, very frustrating.

As you use this very important interview tip – “Be Pleasant, but Response Neutral” – focus on putting on a pleasant poker face. Pull back your natural enthusiasm – if you have it – and let the candidate work through the interview without a “hug” from you.

You are not with a friend at a bar. This is not that kind of conversation. This is a cordial and professional interview. Be pleasant, even be warm, but think and act response-neutral.

Listen Aggressively

The official definition tip #9 Listening aggressively is:

To hear with determination and energetic pursuit, demonstrating a desire to understand.

The Listening Aggressively Bottom Line: Tune into to what the candidate is saying AND not saying. Pay attention to everything.

These nine interview tips will help set the right tone for the interview and get you on the right track  so that you pick a winner every time!

Suzie Price is a Facilitator and Publisher of WakeUpEager.com

She provides resources for leaders who want to Wake Up Eager
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Facebook | Web

Image Source: blog.pappastax.com


How To Become A Leadership Guru

Leadership Guru

Did you know that every influential leader is a situational leadership theory guru? Did you know that situational leadership theory shows up in every area of your life, every day?

Situational What?

What is Situational Leadership Theory? The name sounds complicated, but it’s not.

At the core it is this: honing your ability to adapt how you communicate with others.

It is seeking to understand the other person’s point-of-view and then appreciating their view. And at the same time, adapting how you work with, communicate with, and think about the other person in order to develop a more cohesive and effective relationship.

It is this ongoing focus on improving relationships with others that leads to higher levels of influence and to getting more done efficiently and effectively.


A Day in Three Lives

Let’s look at how being a situational leader ‘guru’ impacts life.

Here are three conversations I have had in the past 24 hours:

Lunch with my Dad

At lunch my father complained,

“I told her I wanted to go on a cruise. She said I’d have to go without her… What’s wrong with her?”

Dad’s talking about my mom; his wife of 49 years.

Walking with my Neighbor

When I was walking my dog, my neighbor bragged about two of his college age kids and scorned the third,

“Kenny and Michele are so focused. They’re going to be great engineers, but Junior – he’s just way too social. He’s just not like the others. He sure can’t handle engineering!”

My neighbor’s been an engineer for 20 years.

Talking Business

Business owner Jim is frustrated with his partner Kim,

“She’s focusing too much on details; we need more sales she needs to do what I’m doing and  just get out there and meet people! What’s wrong with her?”

Jim loves to network. He says that this has always been his number one strategy for business and sales success.


The “Un-Guru”

Influence Weakling

Each scenario represents people who are NOT using the power of situational leadership theory to create stronger more effective relationships with people they would like to positively influence, motivate, and inspire.

Each “leader”  is communicating with, and viewing the other person, through their own eyes and their own preferences.

For example: Dad loves to do things on the spur of the moment. It energizes him. He’s always been that way. My Mom loves to plan, go at a steady pace, and she resists change. She’s always been that way.

Becoming A   Situational Leadership “Guru”

By studying this Guide on Situational Leadership, my Dad could be on his way toward  becoming a situational leadership ‘guru’.  He could begin to understand and appreciate that my mom needs to take change and new ideas slowly.  Mom would probably go on a cruise with him, but Dad will need to approach it more strategically.

One might think he would have figured it by now after 49 years… But this is just what most of us do – we expect others to want what we want.

Small Steps Toward Success

Dad should share his ideas and details about the cruise in small ‘bites’ with his wife. He could share brochures with her.  He could take her dinner with other couples who have had recently enjoyed a cruise. They could watch some travel shows together.  He could stop and really listen to her concerns.

In other words, Dad needs to adapt his communication style and approach to meet Mom’s needs. He needs to think about her preferences and how she makes decisions and communicate with her based on her needs, not just his own.

Neighborly Advice

The same advice applies to my neighbor and his three kids.

He’s an engineer. It is easy for him to appreciate and value the talents of his two children who are most like him. He could use situational leadership theory to learn to understand, respect and appreciate his youngest son’s social side.

In the process he would learn more about himself and learn to value the diversity of his children and other people.

Business Sense

Business owner Jim could work more effectively with his partner Kim.  Kim is reserved in her style and she is detailed oriented.  Jim is expressive and he moves fast.

As Jim learns to appreciate and acknowledge Kim’s strengths, they will fight less and make more progress.  And by adapting his usual fast-moving style he can also be a more effective coach as he  helps Kim get comfortable with sales and  networking.


As you can see from these simple examples situational leadership theory comes into play in every communication and relationship.

Become a situational leadership theory “guru” and your leadership life will become brighter, happier, and more influential.

Are you a leadership  ‘guru?’  Do you use the power of situational leadership theory to lead people?  Or are you ignoring it and expecting everyone to be like you? I would love to hear of your “situation!”

Bookmark How To Become A Leadership Guru

Suzie Price is a Facilitator and Publisher of WakeUpEager.com

She provides resources for leaders who want to Wake Up Eager
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Facebook | Web

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