05/31/2011 02.42 EST
As a retained search consultant, I spend a lot of my time interviewing executives. Sometimes I am speaking with general managers; other times it’s with HR executives, sales leaders or financial executives. They may be in my office, sitting with me in an airport, in a restaurant or on my computer screen. I haven’t done the math, but I’m sure I have interviewed well over a thousand people in the past 15 years.
Interviews are funny things. I believe that putting people at ease allows me to have the best chance of seeing someone’s true personality – but I also have to ask challenging and, at times, sensitive questions. Sometimes I am very direct in my questioning and other times I ask much more open ended, almost vague questions. It all depends on the search, the candidate, the company culture and the situation. People being people, executives bring their own agendas, expectations and hopes to the interview. Sometimes they are anxious, sometimes too relaxed. Some are over-the-top enthusiastic and others are sleepy. I’ve come to learn that I should expect pretty much anything to come out in an interview.
But despite the wide variations I find in interviews, there are a few things I see so often that I have developed shorthand notes for myself to document them. Unfortunately, they describe interview styles or executive characteristics that are not very positive. In the spirit of sharing my observations for the benefit of all, here are my top three:
In my next post, I will share some observations about interview questions I have stopped asking – and why.