Best practices when conducting a technical interview or a structured one

When you are in a managerial role you can seldom say that you donít have enough to do: analyzing various areas, developing business plans, setting goals, monitoring performance, solving conflicts, making decisions, coaching subordinates etc. No wonder your schedule is so busy and the pressure you feel becomes an addiction. Of course, there is always something to do when it comes to managing people or projects and itís perfect as long as you love it.

When you are in a managerial role you can seldom say that you donít have enough to do: analyzing various areas, developing business plans, setting goals, monitoring performance, solving conflicts, making decisions, coaching subordinates etc. No wonder your schedule is so busy and the pressure you feel becomes an addiction. Of course, there is always something to do when it comes to managing people or projects and itís perfect as long as you love it.

But choosing the right person for your team is often a task that managers arenít that interested in, perform it ineffectively or delegate it. A skill thatís essential when it comes to helping others reach their goals or reaching goals with the help of your team has become less important and often ignored.

Here are 8 topics that I would recommend you, as manager, consider before starting an interview with a potential candidate.

Itís not about posting an advert, itís not about job descriptions nor about internal processes or HR reports. Itís about simplicity... this helps you in picking the right resource for a project, a team or a potential successor. (Yap successor! Donít be afraid to consider it! Your business maturity and managerial experience will be completed when you consider this as well. But before you think about who you will leave behind you must first start with the first step: Recruitment!)

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So, what would be the main questions to ask yourself before starting an interview?

  • Why a candidate would love to talk with you?

Because you are a professional! People will buy or not buy you as a person in a few seconds and that is only because of the way you present yourself: your smile, your voice, your attitude and your vision. Too often managers who conduct interviews lack energy, are full of prejudices or vanity and are more willing to impress or to make a point Ė the only effect being that they will scare candidates. Interviews are not about who you are or how great, quick or knowledgeable you are as a manager. Interviews are about your candidates.

  • What a candidate wouldnít say?

It depends on their behavioral patterns. Only a few of them will speak freely, even fewer will recognize if they were wrong or failed in their previous jobs. Therefore you need to ask relevant questions using the funnel technique up to the moment they will express a behavior. One of the principles in recruitment says that ďThe key to finding out how someone will perform in a job is to collect and analize examples of how he/she has performed in similar situations in the pastĒ Ė in other words, to look at examples of the candidateís past behavior.

  • What if they have all the answers?

Few of them might. Because of experience, interview frequency, selling skills or imagination. Therefore for this unusual case you need to go to the next level. Up to this moment you have assessed the past, now itís time to assess the present and the future through simulations or work assignments.


  • What if they are silent?

It is either a sign they didnít buy what you were selling in the first place, so they are not comfortable with you. Or they might be introverts. Make sure you explain your role, the context of the interview and the purpose of the questions you are about to ask. It is better to avoid selling a job when you meet this type of people when finishing the interview, just launch key messages and ask for feedback. This might have a bigger impact.

  • Which are the boring questions?

Those questions that will show how mature your business is. Investigating their carrier plans (ďwhere do you see yourself 5 years from now?Ē). If these questions have the impact they are supposed to have then the candidate will genuinely think about the question. If not you might consider that they are interested in only a short stint in your company or they might just be the sort of person that doesnít necessarily like this sort of corporate type of questions.

  • When to expect fake answers?

When addressing strengths and weaknesses. People tend to exaggerate their qualities and minimize weaknesses. Sometimes they will present an idealistic image and not how they really are. I recommend changing perspectives and putting candidates in someone elseís shoes. For example: ďWhat is your best friendís name? Alex. And what would Alex say when he is joking with others about you?Ē

  • When do you risk losing control of the discussion?

When addressing closed questions (which require yes or no answers) you will make your candidates feel as if they are interrogated. You should also consider your attitude towards the candidate. Make sure you are not exhibiting an air of superiority or you aren't being ironic in any way during the interview.

And last but not least only talk about the salary at the very end of the interview.

  • When you might be at risk of selecting too quickly?

Selection is a decision making process. Therefore any emotional decision will have tremendous impact on your business, team, goals and image. Selecting people is an asset when measuring competences. Each competency is to be expressed in behaviors. Some behaviors are more effective than others. You need to choose the candidate who proves to have the best behaviors and not focus on their future tasks or how they might interact with people.

Taking the time to answer these questions before starting any recruitment process will increase the odds of choosing the right candidate for a project or team. It will also help you avoid losing time and energy on employees that donít fit or on the inevitable second batch of interviews when you are forced to let them go.

Iulian Ionita
Communication and personal effectiveness specialist

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