Tag Archives: questions

Losing Control in the Interview

This is the fourth in our series, Six Sins in the Hiring Interview.

  • Missing important (and obvious) clues during the interview
  • Head trash, the distraction of the stereotype in the back of your head
  • The fatal decision in the first three minutes of the interview
  • Losing control, losing your head, losing your wallet
  • Asking the wrong (stupid) interview questions
  • Getting beat in the paint

This series is a prelude to our Hiring Talent Summer Camp.

Losing Control in the Interview
I realize I haven’t heard a word the candidate has said for the past four minutes. Then I realized the candidate has been talking non-stop for the past four minutes.

“Can you tell me more about the company?” the candidate asks.

“Great company,” I reply and recite a brief thumbnail about the enterprise.

“Are there benefits?”
“Who would be my manager?”
“Would I have my own cubicle?”
“What kind of computer do I get?”
“Do we have paid holidays?”
“How long before I can take vacation?”
“What’s the work like?”
“Is there a dress code?”

I suddenly realize 45 minutes has passed, I know nothing about this candidate and I have two more waiting in the lobby. I lost control of the interview.

Happens all the time, often with a full complimentary tour of the building. Why do we lose control of the interview?

Who controls the conversation?

  • the person answering the questions?
  • the person asking the questions?

On the surface, it appears the person doing most of the talking must be in control, when, in fact, it is the person asking the questions. Why does the interviewer lose control? Most interviewers walk in the room with a written list of 4-5 questions. The more time the candidate fills, the fewer questions required.

“I had five prepared questions, but I only had to ask the first two, the candidate was really responsive, a good communicator. I kind of liked him.” Who was in control of the interview?

Here is the good news. If you suddenly realize you have lost control, you can immediately regain it by asking your next question. You do have a next question, don’t you. From your list of 60 prepared questions. The person asking the questions controls the interview.

Our Hiring Talent Summer Camp begins next Monday, June 18, 2012. It’s online, and you will have several chances to make that first impression.

It’s a Cakewalk

From the Ask Tom mailbag –


I just read your latest newsletter regarding team interviewing. I am a lousy interviewer but trying to get better. I am intrigued by the 50-60 interview questions that need to be prepared as I have a tendency to just wing it.

Do you have a source or listing of that many questions? I’m having a hard time envisioning what a comprehensive list might look like.

When I first introduce this concept of 50-60 written prepared questions, most interviewers freak out. Looks like a lot of work. No idea where to start? Can I short-cut the work and find the questions online?

The answer is, there is no short-cut. I do NOT have a list you can copy. But, here is the source of the questions.

The template I use to create a Role Description is organized around Key Result Areas (KRAs). When you look at any role, there are tasks that go together, typically related to a single goal or objective. In any role, there are typically 5-8 major goals or objectives, with related tasks in each goal area.

Looks like this –

Role Description
KRA #1
KRA #2
KRA #3
and so on…

Use the Role Description to craft ten questions in each KRA. If you have six KRAs, you will have 60 written prepared questions. It’s a cakewalk.

If you have more questions, register for our Hiring Talent program, next Orientation is Apr 23, 2012. For more information, follow this link.

The Value in a Manager’s Role

“What do you mean, bring value?” Joan asked. “Sounds easy to say, but I don’t know what you mean. How does a manager bring value to the problem solving and decision making in the team?”

“Do you bring value by telling people what to do?” I asked.

Joan sat back, looking for the odd angle in the question. “No,” she replied.

“You and I are sitting here talking,” I nodded. “And in our conversation, am I directing you, telling you how to be a manager?”

Again, the answer was “No.”

“And would you say that our conversations are valuable, valuable to you, in your role, as a manager?”

Joan followed the nod. “Yes,” she said slowly.

“I am not telling you what to do, yet, am I bringing value to the conversation?” I could see Joan making a leap in her mind to follow. “How am I doing that? If I am not telling you what to do, what kinds of sentences am I using?”

“Questions,” she responded. “You are not telling me what to do. You are asking questions and listening. And your questions are bringing value to the decisions I have to make and the problems I have to solve.”