Why a job interview should not be an interrogation

I recently had dinner with a good friend who is a police detective and regularly has to interrogate criminal suspects in multi-day sessions. Fortunately, we both live in the Netherlands, where an interrogation is an interview with the objective of truth-finding, with no physical abuse of any kind. Over the course of a nice meal and some good wine, we had a great exchange on how an interrogation in many ways resembles a job interview and at the same time should be very different in terms of the objective.

Studies have shown that traditional interviewing techniques used by police were lacking. They lacked preparation, had poor technique, were unduly repetitive and failed to establish facts. Sounds familiar? The police wanted to change things and came up with the PEACE model:

peace model

The model defines a clear structure and process for any interview, and in my opinion also could serve as a great model for job interviews. Let’s have a look at what sets a job interview apart from an interrogation, but also what the commonalities are:

Truth-finding

Interestingly enough both an interrogation and a job interview are about truth-finding. The big difference between them is that in an interrogation the truth-finding aspect is one-sided, while in a job interview, it is, ideally, two-sided. In a job interview, it is equally important for the candidate to assess the job as it is important for the employer to assess the candidate. Truth-finding is maybe also less factual, more intangible. We want to find out more about culture and personality. Hard facts can be found on the company website and CV.

Scripts

All too often I come across people doing interviews without any script. CVs are briefly being scanned before the interview and interviewing done cowboy-style, shooting questions from the hip. With no script and limited notes, we know one thing for sure… we leave ample room for personal bias and hiring managers looking for someone like them. Obviously, a script should not at all be about merely satisfying the interviewer(s) with answers to their questions. If that is the sole objective, we are doing an interrogation. Nope. A script is about giving equal opportunity to all candidates for a fair comparison.

Open questions

Most professional interrogators will tell you that asking open questions is the best way to find out about the truth. They ask open questions repeatedly and use previous answers to look for consistency. Not a bad thing, right? If the objective is to find out more about a person’s desires, ambitions and drivers, asking open questions is also a great approach. Look for consistency and look for patterns that will tell you if someone just wants the job or if someone is truly motivated to work with you.

Listening

Sounds simple: listening. Let the candidate talk. Be genuinely interested to find out more and let yourself be surprised once in a while. If you stop looking for what you want to hear and start listening to what someone is trying to tell you, you will start to recognise better candidates earlier. It just requires you to show some interest and ask follow-up questions without losing sight of your interview script. Having a script and listening may seem contradictory to some, but they actually go hand-in-hand if you treat your script as an agenda rather than a stage-play.

Waterboarding (NO WAY)

Something we should not be doing in job interview nor should be doing in an interrogation, if you ask me. In both cases, it should all be about making people feel at ease so that can talk more freely. Spend enough time to make people feel comfortable. Be engaging and provide closure. Do not exert too much pressure!

When we launched the Cammio video recruitment platform in 2013 we initially thought that employers would know what to ask their candidates and had a clear interview structure in place, only to find out that some really don’t. We have since added loads of great interview questions ranging from open interview questions to competency-based questions and many other formats. Our clients deliver these interviews in a structured process that is engaging and fair. This has helped many hiring managers to select better candidates faster in an interview process that is all about getting a full picture on both sides of the table while having the best possible candidate experience. Feel free to reach out if you’d like advice on how to provide structure and content in an unbiased interview process.


 

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