The inexperienced interviewer
There are so many hints and tips for interviews, let’s start with the inexperienced interviewer.
The inexperienced interviewer will fail to demonstrate good interview techniques and this can make an interview much harder than with an experienced interviewer.
Here are 10 hints and tips for interviews to help you.
This interview advice will be helpful, As a Chartered Psychologist and Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society interviewing is one of my specialist areas.
1. When you are faced with a very inexperienced interviewer
There are few good interviewers and so many inexperienced interviewers. Most of those you meet will not have been trained and these are likely to form a judgement on you in the first 90 seconds. Be patient and listen clearly to the questions you’re asked … you want to answer these carefully as this may be the only opportunity you have to shine.
Don’t show impatience, it will only make them more nervous.
2. The interviewer is badly prepared
One sign of an inexperienced interviewer is that it is obvious that the interviewer hasn’t read your CV. You should always take along your own copy so you can refer to it and hand over a copy.
It can get worse, they may not even know your name! Don’t make any assumptions about what they already know about you. Expand in more detail on your background, and perhaps ask them if they would like you to talk through your career history.
3. Little good interview technique demonstrated
An inexperienced interviewer is likely to ask vague questions and have a lack of structure, this can throw you if you are used to competency based questions with an experienced interviewer.
Turn this to your advantage and take control. Provide examples that stress your strengths and they may not even ask about your weaknesses.
But be careful not to appear an over confident, you want to demonstrate some empathy.
4. They ask closed questions
In this situation, recognise the limitations of the closed question and treat it as an open question.
For example if the inexperienced interviewer asks closed and ineffective questions such as ‘Are you a good negotiator?’ you need to respond as if they have asked the question ‘Tell me about a negotiation and how it went.’
If asked ‘Do you have any experience of using advanced Excel techniques? or ‘Do you have any knowledge of working with manufacturing clients? Avoid the temptation to just answer Yes/No but expand such as ‘Yes, for example when etc…’ Or avoid Yes or No completely and instead answer the question using a more detailed response.
5. The questions are unclear
Many inexperienced interviewers will questions that are unclear or complex, so try to handle the points one at a time. Sometimes you can answer one question, suggesting another one at the same time, e.g.
Yes, I made considerable savings at XYZ CO and that paved the way for my remarkable turnaround at ABC plc.
A good interview technique is to answer their vague question and follow up with a question of your own. So, for example you could ask – is being able to think on my feet important? And then provide an example of when you have done this. a helpful hint and tip for the interview will be to refer to the job description (which you have brought with you) and provide an example to show your expertise.
6. The interviewer monopolises the interview
This situation calls for careful judgement. There is research evidence to show that some poor interviewers actually rate candidates in direct proportion to the amount of time they, the interviewer, talk. Thus the more they talk, the higher they rate the candidate! Nevertheless, you still need to get some points across, so it is all the more important when you do comment that you are able to mention succinctly your key prepared points.
Try not to encourage the interviewer by your non‑verbal language or supportive comments. When the interviewer draws breath, you might say firmly,
- I’d like to respond to what you’ve been saying …
- I understand about what you’ve said, my experience includes …
- That reminds me of a question I’d like to ask …
… and keep going. Without being discourteous, you can also sometimes tactfully ignore the cues that the interviewer wants to speak again.
7. The Interviewer rambles
Some inexperienced interviewers lack structure, and you they may ask a question and then they start telling you about the company and goodness knows what. You need to listen intently as amongst the ramblings you may miss out on a question. But you may also find something of interest to follow up on and there may be useful inklings about the organisation.
An experienced interviewer will have a quiet room and have made sure they are not interrupted. The inexperienced interviewer may interview you in their office and answer the phone, and respond to people who come into the office. This should not happen but sometimes the reason is that the interviewer wants to come across as important.
If there is an interruption, sit quietly and don’t look as if you are listening, better to use this time to review your performance and to think of good examples of your experience to share.
Of course there may be an emergency, but if you get more than 2 interruptions and the interviewer looks harassed you may like to offer to come back another time. And if the same thing happens again … an indication of what the organisation is like, do you really want to work for them?
9. The interviewer dries up
If an inexperienced interviewer begins to dry up, you can start to ask questions such as asking why the interviewer enjoys working there. They have probably not expected this so it can provide useful information to help you to decide whether to join the company, or not.
If the interviewer runs out of questions, keep the dialogue going by introducing new material. You could say
- When talking about my experience at …was it clear that…
- When I was describing what I did at … I should have added…
Another way to help out a nervous or muddled interviewer is to think what an ideal candidate would say to an anxious interviewer. This can help you to reframe the situation, focusing on what is important ‑ the job, the criteria, responsibilities, etc. Referring the person to your CV can also help recapture relevance and direction. At the end of the day you will want to reassure the interviewer that you are the frontrunner for the job.
You could also ask them up front what they’re looking for in the position.
10. What questions may you be asked
An inexperienced interviewer is likely to ask questions that skim the surface rather than drill deep, as in a competency based interview. Questions you could be asked include
- How do you handle criticism? (think of a specific example, treat it like a competency question)
- How do you work with others? (think of a specific example, treat it like a competency question)
- Do you prefer to work in a small, medium or large organisation?
- Why do you want this job?
- What qualities do you think this job requires?
- Why do you want to work for this organisation?
- What have you got to contribute?
- What can we offer you that your previous organisation cannot offer?
- How long have you been looking for a new job?
- What do you know about this organisation?
- What interests you about this organisation?
- What are you looking for in a new job?
- What would be your ideal job?
- What sorts of jobs are you considering at the moment?
- What did you do on a day to day basis?
- What do you not like about the job?
- How did you make a difference to your last organisation?
- How successful are you?
- What was your greatest success and how did you achieve it?
- What has been your biggest failure?
- How could you improve yourself?
- How did you progress in your last job? Do you need other people around to stimulate you?
- Are you accepted into a team quickly?
- Who was your favourite boss, and what would he or she say about you?
- Which position was your favourite and why?
- Why do you think you’d want to work here?
- What motivates you?
- Are you competitive?
- What problems did you encounter and how did you overcome them? (think of a specific example, treat it like a competency question)
- Do you feel you are ready to take on greater responsibilities?
- What are you like under pressure? (think of a specific example, treat it like a competency question)
- How many hours are you prepared to work?
- What are your career goals?
- How did you get on with your last manager/colleagues? (think of a specific example, treat it like a competency question)
- As much as you can treat each question as if it was a competency based question.
All the very best for your next interview and if you want further guidance you may like to
- Read further blog posts
- Choose Interview coaching sessions
- Take my online interview course – Get Interview Ready
All the very best for your next interview.