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The 10 Commandments in Executive Search: 8. Prepare interviews well and 9. make the most of them!

The next two commandments concern the interviews that companies conduct with candidates. Here I experience the entire spectrum: from those who draw up detailed catalogs of questions and go through them 1-to-1 in the interview to those who rely entirely on their gut feeling and their supposed knowledge of human nature.

Both extremes are not advisable. On the one hand, a natural interview should take place in which the company can get to know the person, answer open questions and at the same time present itself well as a potential new employer. On the other hand, the interview serves to shed more light on important aspects of the job profile and to check whether the candidate is the right person for the role. Neither the slavish processing of a list of questions nor a completely unstructured interview can achieve these goals.

The solution is to conduct a semi-structured interview: In addition to the small talk at the beginning, introducing each other, answering questions about the company and the candidate's self-presentation, some topics that are important for the role should then be explored in more depth. I recommend focusing on no more than three aspects in more detail, using a three-step questioning technique in each case: What was the challenge, what was specifically done and what was the outcome?

For example, if you want to find out how someone acts as a leader, you can ask whether there have been problems in the past with tasks not being completed by the team on time. It is important to ask for a detailed description of the initial situation, what was done and what the result of the measures was. From the second question at the latest, you will notice whether someone has actually dealt with such situations or only knows them 'from hearsay' or 'from experience'. You also find out how reflective someone is and whether their own behavior has been critically questioned.

It is therefore worth preparing this part of the interview well in order to make the most of the conversation.

About the author

Dr. Sebastian Tschentscher finds the best digital minds for your company with his executive search boutique "Digital Minds".

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