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The Challenges of Standard Interviewing Techniques

For many, interviews are high-stress situations that can exacerbate feelings of nervousness and anxiety, making it difficult to accurately represent one’s skills and personality. This is especially true for group interviews or when faced with the daunting “tell me a time when…” questions. These formats can disadvantage those who, despite being highly capable and having a strong work ethic, simply cannot convey their worth under pressure.

A Personal Reflection on Interviewing

Drawing from personal experience, the gap between knowing how to succeed in an interview theoretically and being able to perform under pressure can be vast. Advice such as “it’s okay to pause and leave space” can be incredibly valuable, yet the intense desire to secure a position can overwhelm even the most prepared individuals. This sentiment is not unique and resonates with many, including young job seekers like my 18-year-old daughter, who recently faced similar challenges.

Rethinking Interviewing Techniques

The critical question then becomes: How can we, as emerging leaders, innovate the interview process to accommodate a broader range of candidates, including those who might not excel in traditional formats? Making the interview more conversational can significantly lower stress levels and provide a more genuine interaction between the interviewer and the candidate. This approach allows for a holistic view of the candidate’s personality, work ethic, and potential fit within the organization.

Proposals for a More Inclusive Approach

  1. Incorporate Work Samples or Practical Tasks: Depending on the role, candidates could be asked to complete a task relevant to the job. This method assesses skills in a practical context and reduces reliance on verbal articulation under pressure.

  2. Use Structured Conversational Interviews: Shift from a rigid Q&A format to a structured conversation that aims to understand the candidate’s experiences, thought processes, and potential.

  3. Implement Peer Interviews: Allowing candidates to interact with future colleagues in a less formal setting can provide insights into their ability to collaborate and fit into the team.

  4. Consider Emotional Intelligence Assessments: Incorporating assessments that measure emotional intelligence can provide a different perspective on a candidate’s potential to contribute positively to the workplace culture.

As we strive for a more inclusive and equitable hiring process, it’s essential to recognize the limitations of traditional interviewing techniques and explore innovative alternatives. By adopting methods that accommodate a wider range of personalities and interviewing styles, we can ensure that all candidates have the opportunity to fully showcase their capabilities. For the “nerves Nellies” of the world and everyone else who finds the conventional interview process daunting, it’s time for a systemic change that embraces diversity in all its forms, including how we perform under pressure.

Shannon Hassan, Forward Focus: Empower, Transform, Achieve

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