Career development / Hiring / Jobs

How to ace a job interview, for the people asking the questions

Ahead of a Nov. 15 event to help people who are hiring hone job interviews, General Assembly's Joy Haugen provides some tips.

Interviews: not just hard for the job candidate. (Courtesy photo)
The week, the interviewer becomes the interviewee at a General Assembly training workshop for hiring managers and recruiters.

The free workshop on Wednesday night, Nov. 15, is called “Nailing the Interview Process for Employers”, and takes place from 4:30-5:30 p.m. at GA’s office on 15th street.

According to the event’s instructor, GA Career Coach Joy Haugen, making sure an HR department has skilled interviewers isn’t just about being nice. “It can cost upwards of twice the annual salary when you think of time spent on finding top candidates,” Haugen told us in an email.

To learn more about what the event will offer – and what was the hardest interview question she’s ever been asked – we conducted an interview of our own with Haugen.

(This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.)

### DC: Who are the people that need to know what you’re going to be teaching next Wednesday?

Joy Haugen: Hiring Managers, Recruiters, and anyone in the business of scoping talent! Finding and replacing talent can be burdensome in both time and money.  It can cost upwards of twice the annual salary when you think of time spent on finding top candidates, recruiting and on-boarding, salaries, benefits and bonuses, and time to fully vested talent making impacts.

TDC: Why did you want to offer this training? (Did you see a need specifically in the tech industry for this?)


JH: As a Career Coach for General Assembly and personal clients, I too often hear highly qualified and skilled candidates say that they interviewed for their dream organization and were perplexed that the interview process and questions were not up to par. Their interviewer clearly Googled questions to ask and had no idea how to navigate the situation.  As a job seeker, candidates are placing their trust and confidence that the person on the other side of the table knows what they are doing and can represent the organization. Organizations too often forget that they are not just interviewing the candidate, but the candidate is also interviewing them. So why not put our best foot forward, just as the candidate is attempting to do?

The great thing about this workshop and similar workshops that we host, is that we are bringing back the human component to the automated processes that technology allows us to utilize and showing that in partnership with great technology and a great human interaction, organizations can have top talent which will help drive their bottom line.

TDC: What’s one question you wished interviewers asked more often?

JH: Ooh goodness, there are so many. I think the best questions are questions that focus on actual behaviors and impacts that candidates can talk to rather than the hypothetical futuristic questions based on what we think we can do, in an organization that we have never worked for, so essentially we are making it up. As a hiring manager, I want to know what I am going to get both on day one and three months down the road from a candidate. The best way to get that is through asking real questions, “Tell me about a time when…?”.

TDC: How does someone get to be a really good at interviewing?

JH: Interviewing is a skill that everyone should have. To be really good at interviewing, it’s important to take a step back and think about what you really want to know about someone and what the job requires. What isn’t on their resume or portfolio?  When you read their pitch, what feeling do you get and what about them makes you want to know more? Skills can be taught, but who they are as a person is much harder to train.

Treating every question as if it were the million dollar question…as the quality of the answer you will receive depends on the quality of your question. A great way to practice is to have a rule that for every person you meet, ask them three questions beyond the standard D.C. question, “What do you do?”

TDC: What’s the toughest question you’ve ever been asked in an interview?

JH: This may be the toughest question I have ever had to answer. In general, interviews can go one of two ways:  an interrogation or a conversation. I generally prefer to make it a conversation as you get more from them, but in one interview I went through, the toughest question asked was, “If I could be any character from a Disney movie who would it be?” It was such an irrelevant question to the role that it threw me for a loop. Even now I wonder what the correlation is from wanting to be Mary Poppins to business!

Companies: General Assembly
Series: Builders

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