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Is this an Interview or an Interrogation??

Whether you are on the side of the table with the pen and paper or the side with the crisp, updated resume, you may have wondered whether you were in an interrogation room or a job interview!

A job interview has the potential to go oh-so-wrong. Nevertheless, I fully believe this process can produce great results for those involved if done intentionally and thoughtfully. Interviews can be a fascinating social experiment to boot!

Think about it – as the hiring manager, you are inviting a stranger into your work environment to sell them on the company and the position. You ask them questions that forces them to talk about themselves, their accomplishments, their abilities, and why they are a good fit. And there’s typically only one to two hours to accomplish this! I hope you have a psychology degree!

There are many interview styles that exist: traditional one-on-one in-person, telephonic, video, group, case, over a meal, simulation, panel, and the list goes on. Personally, I think companies should tailor their interview styles based on their open positions.

Below is a real-life scenario of a customized interview process for a restaurant manager.

Interview Process:

  1. After a candidate is successfully screened through the lens of their resume and a completed online behavioral assessment, they are invited to the restaurant to observe a lunch rush.
  2. Directly following this observation is a meeting with the Regional Manager. The candidate is expected to basically give a SWOT analysis of the rush. They should specifically critique the flow, efficiency, customer service attitude, teamwork, and anything else that uniquely stood out to them.
  3. If fruitful, the candidate will be invited to a formal interview with the owners and Director of Operations at headquarters.

Method to the Madness:

  • A professional behavioral assessment can be a valuable tool used in the candidate screening process. Businesses can partner with vendors who offer customized assessments specific to a position or industry. In this scenario, the assessment was able to determine if a candidate was a match for the Manager position. If they were not rated well, the system would suggest other positions in the company that were better fit for their abilities.
  • One of the pillars of a successful employee at this company is to show up on time and ready to work. Therefore, the Regional Manager along with all the employees on shift would observe if the candidate showed up to their interview on time and “ready to interview.” Were they prepared and dressed appropriately? It seems so simple, yet vital. You can’t change a first impression! 
  • Managing a restaurant is no easy feat, especially during a big lunch rush. The purpose of the candidate personally observing and critiquing a rush is two-fold: 1.) The candidate is able to get an important glimpse of what and who they would be responsible for managing. 2.) The Regional Manager, who will be their direct supervisor, is able to evaluate if the candidate can successfully point out the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of the operations. The Regional Manager is tasked with asking questions of the candidate that are meant to reveal their knowledge and ability to manage a potentially multi-million-dollar business, therefore sometimes feeling like they are in an interrogation.
  • The last step of the interview process is equally important. The owners of the business need to have buy-in on a candidate because the managers are the people who “run” the business at the individual locations. The managers are responsible for the three most important things: employees, profits, and customer satisfaction. If they mess those things up, then the owners may not be able to keep the business open.   

Be aware, though, that creating a customized interview process can feel a bit robotic after a while. You may find yourself desensitized. If that is the case, try changing things around. Whatever you do, find something that works for you, your company values, the open position, and the company culture.

Even in giving you this advice, I don’t claim to be an expert in selecting the perfect candidate. Sometimes, people will fool me in an interview with all the right answers while wearing a flawless three-piece suit! I once read that HR is more of an art than a science – you can’t always do the perfect thing because you are dealing with imperfect people. I can confidently say this also applies to interrogations…I mean interviews!