How to conduct an interview

By Mary Mitchell


I have just been promoted to a management position. I feel confident in my new job but I'm conducting my first interview soon and don't have a clue about how to behave. How do I avoid looking as if I don't know what I'm doing? - Nervous


An old expression goes, 'When a little person sits in a big chair, beware'. It simply means that when insecure individuals are in positions of power, they often become bullies to hide what they don't know. Don't let that happen to you.


Keep in mind that your goal as a manager is to find the best person for the job and your company. If you keep those aims in your sights instead of focusing on your own nervousness, you'll be in a far better position than you think. Remember that you know your stuff. You wouldn't be a manager if you didn't.


Do your homework. Know the company's policies inside out. Write down the concerns you had when you were in the candidate's shoes and be sure to answer them, possibly addressing the issues before the applicant brings them up. Write down your agenda and stick to it.


By anticipating the candidates' concerns and making them feel welcome, you'll establish a rapport more easily. Their technical skills will be on their CV and covering letter or application form. What you need to do is get an idea of what kind person they are and how good their interpersonal skills are. Tycoon John D. Rockefeller said, 'I will spend more on a person with the ability to deal with others than any other skill under the sun.' Interpersonal skills account for most of a person's career success. The applicants will demonstrate theirs based on the opportunities you provide.'


On a practical level, remember that we judge others more on how they look than anything else and others judge us in the same way. Make sure your grooming is impeccable: squeaky-clean hair, hands, nails, ears, and teeth. Your shoes and clothes must be in good condition. Even if your company encourages casual clothing all the time, remember that managers are supposed to be leaders, so dress smartly to look authoritative.


Go out to wherever the candidate is waiting and greet him or her. Smile, make eye contact and shake hands. Extend your hand first and shake firmly - a weak handshake commands no respect. Thank the person for taking the time to apply for the job. This will reduce tension and make your job easier. Tell the applicants where to sit and ask to take their coats for them. Ask questions and really listen to the answers. Most people ask a question and plan what to say next while it's being answered. Not a good move for anyone. Don't be afraid of pauses and take time to phrase your questions well.


When the interview is over, stand, shake hands again and thank the applicant again. See them to the door. Then go to a private corner, pat yourself on the back for a job well done, and breathe deeply.