Be a fun interviewer

If you ever get a chance to interview people for a job, then you have a great responsibility at hand.

In my working life, I have interviewed a lot of people, perhaps close to a hundred. May be a bit more. I haven’t kept a tally but a lot. Since my university days decades ago to now, I have interviewed almost every year.

And there is one thing that I have done every time:

I value the time & presence of the candidate. My goal is to ensure the candidate has had a life-changing moment by being part of the interview.

As of last week, I started a new role at my work, leaving behind a role of 4 years. In the old stint, I had interviewed, recruited, trained & mentored many members of the team. In the farewell meeting for me, when each person took turns to bid goodbye, they referred to their memories of the interview!

“It was by far the best interview I have ever had!”
“The interview was so much fun!”
“I understood the culture of the team from that interview”
“After the interview, I wanted the job even more!”

Few years ago, when a candidate I interviewed was unsuccessful for the role, she said to me something like:

Just wanted to say, I had a whale of a time in the interview & thank you for making it special for me. I reckon you should be a teacher cause the students would have so much fun!

I am not saying these to show-off but to prove that interviews when done differently, has a great impact on the candidate. Interviews don’t need to be built around anxiety, fear, control etc. They don’t bring out the best in anyone. The more relaxed the candidates are, the more you can read them well.

So, what did I do?

It starts way before the meeting itself.

The Initial Thanks

When I get a resume, I email the candidate as follows:

Dear James,

My name is Manoj Kumar looking after the recruitment for the role of “Campaign Manager” at our company.

I wanted to write to thank you for considering our company and sending across your resume. I am going through it now and I will be in touch for any clarifications needed or to invite you for an interview. Please wait to hear from me.

All the best!

Regards,
Manoj

The Interview Invitation

Dear James,

Thank you for your last email.

I would like to invite you for an interview at our city office. Please let me know which of the below times suits you:

Monday, dd/mm/yy, 11:30 AM – 12:30 AM
Wednesday, dd/mm/yy, 8:30 AM – 9:30 AM
Wednesday, dd/mm/yy, 4:00 PM – 5:00 PM

Our address: <full address with landmark>
At the reception, please ask for me and I will come & get you.

FYI – besides the interview, I will also talk on the company, the role & our expectations.

Looking forward to hearing from you.

Thanks,
Manoj

Final email confirmation

Hey James,

I have confirmed, Wednesday dd/mm at 4 PM as our interview time. If you are running late on the day due to unforeseen reasons or you wish to decline the interview, please let me know.

Thanks for your time.

Regards,
Manoj

Reception Meeting

Hey James,

Wonderful to see you! Glad you could make it. Let’s go to the meeting room & get started, shall we?

Thanks,
Manoj

IN THE INTERVIEW ROOM

I have the following things ready for every candidate:

  1. a glass of water
  2. tissues
  3. pen & paper
  4. a PowerPoint presentation

Note: The power point is the game changer and I start with it before the interview even starts.

In the power point presso, I have slides on the following:

a. A welcome slide with the candidate’s name
b. The interview format
c. About the company
d. About the role
e. A day in the life of a “Campaign Manager”

Before I start the above slides, I tell them the below.

Hey James,
I know interviews can be nerve wrecking and you will be trying to be the most perfect human as possible. But I don’t want you to be under that pressure. Be yourself. I won’t be judging you on the wrong answers, the jokes that don’t work or even dropping that glass of water. All I look for are 2 things – how much you are pushing yourself for an answer and how enthusiastic you are for the role. That’s it.

As soon as I say the above, and every single time, you can immediately see the interviewee break free. They let out a slow sigh of relief, their eyes widen and a smile comes through. EVERY TIME!

When I take them through the slides, I lace almost every slide with jokes, puns and analogies. Everyone is laughing and paying attention too. It’s a bit easy for me because by nature I am silly. Also, I repeat these jokes & stories across interviews, so over a period of time, it gets easy to tell them effortlessly.

Once I take them through the slides, I ask if they have any questions before we start the interview.

During the interview, I ask both general questions and situation based questions.

An example of a General questions is – tell me about yourself.

An example of a Situation based question is:
Let’s say on a Friday at 5 PM, the client has called you to help do a favor for them as a last-minute request. You have a 7 PM dinner with the family. Helping the client could mean you won’t leave till 8 PM at least. What would you do?

THE END – for now

Once we’ve had the time of our lives, I ask them if they have any questions before winding up:

“Hey James,
That brings us to the end of the interview, unfortunately! We had such a great time & we thank you. I want to let you know we have a strong demand for this role and interviewing many high-caliber candidates. Once the initial rounds are complete and if you are successful, we will call you for a 2nd & final round. Till then, wishing you the best in your job search & career ahead.

Then I walk them to the elevator and we say the goodbyes.

You can see that they don’t want to leave, asking more questions and thanking you even more.

Both of us go away knowing we put in our best and took care of each other. They begin to visualize the culture at work and dream of being a part of it. And I have a clear picture of the person behind the person. No stress, no tricky questions, no confusion. It was all about building an honest relationship.

What makes it fun is that I make the entire interview session laid back and humorous. I make sure they are laughing, engaging, and bringing out their own personality into the room. Who wants to be in a stressful room! Not me.

That’s it. Does the above help? What has your experiences been? Please share your tips in comments.


By the way, I went on to Canva to make some slides for this essay, and guess what?! I came across a sample template they had which talks about INTERVIEW SUCCESS!!!! Talk about coincidence. So, I am sharing Canva’s own slides on interview success which are also very helpful.

You can download the above presentation below:

If you are a candidate and want to make your resume really stand out, consider hiring a professional to upgrade your current resume. You can find plenty of freelancers on Fiverr. Click below to take you there now.


Credits:
– Cover Photo by Christina @ wocintechchat.com on Unsplash
– Canva links are referral links
– Fiverr button is an affiliate link

Written by

Manoj loves all things related to the internet, productivity, self-improvement, spirituality & entrepreneurship. He has written close to 400 articles online in the last 10 years. He is also a podcast host at "Manoj Speaks" (manojspeaks.com) and a YouTube content creator at "Manoj Videos" and works full-time in the digital advertising industry. For a number of years, he worked in the Australian international education sector helping overseas students come to Australia for their higher studies. You can follow him on Twitter at "@manojthinks".

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