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What to Consider in a Two-Way Interview

A job interview for both an employer and a hiring candidate can be a stressful and time-consuming activity. A recent CareerBuilder survey reported that three out of four employers felt that they had hired wrongly for a position. Of course, this wrong hire comes with a cost. On average, companies spend $14,900.00 annually each time they make a mismatched hire.

As we emerge from COVID, with a new normal, interviews have even more of a significant impact on creating a strong and resilient team. A study by McKinsey and Company estimated that in the shutdown phase alone of COVID, up to 53 million US jobs were made vulnerable. This impact included permanent layoffs, temporary furloughs, and/or reductions in hours and pay. We all know can see that these changes are impacting the way we do business—for employer and prospective employee alike. In today’s interview process, consideration of a perfect fit is becoming more of a two-way street. Employers are looking for candidates that can, not only do work skillfully, but also fit in well within a team. Potential employees want to find a place where they feel fulfilled in their work and enjoy their work environment.

The goal of any interview takes into consideration both sides. If new hires are engaged and enjoy their work culture, they are better employees. If employers create healthy work environments, they set employees up to succeed and there is less conflict and more efficiency.  The interview is the first and best opportunity to both determine that skills and culture are a match. The primary objective should be to make sure that the discussion reflects an authentic view for each party, saving the save time and energy of a misdirected hire.

For the employer, the focus likely falls on determining how each candidate best fits the company’s needs and culture. Companies and organizations may ask: What skills does the candidate possess that are needed to complete the tasks here? And, what goals within the company can be accomplished with the skills of this potential employee?

These questions can be answered not only by asking them of the potential new hire, but also by explaining the work that needs to be done and asking the employee what skills they have that would best fit these needs. Finding the right fit also means looking at the soft skills of the employee. It would be wise to consider the following questions: How well does the employee fit into the established team? And, do they possess the critical thinking skills that are necessary for the job? The employer can ask the candidate to describe a picture of the best work environment they can imagine. More good questions to ask are: What would be considered a bonus other than money? Or, what is the best way to reward a team for a job well done?

For the potential employee, the interview is a time to see if the work they will be doing in the job fits with activities they enjoy and have the skills to complete. The candidate might want to know what specific duties are currently being accomplished, and also what the potential employer sees the job looking like five years from now? This broader view of the position helps the employer to define expectations and the overall plan for the job to see what possible trajectory is available for growth. It’s likely that a candidate would also want to understand what culture exists within the company, what words describe such, and how is conflict handled.

It is essential in an interview that both sides are authentic. Many job placements fail because one or both parties misrepresent the work or the environment of the workplace. It may be that part of the interview process allows the employee a day working at the job to see how well it works out within the company’s environment and skills. There is a greater chance of success if each side understands the work’s true nature and the company’s culture.

Jobs are a commodity for both the employer and the employee, and of course, it is best for both parties if the hire sticks. The resiliency of the match requires an authentic exchange between both sides of the interview platform. Best practices include giving each other time to talk about what is vital in the job and what value each side brings to the table and looking at the employer and employee’s problem-solving skills to see if the environment matches what each side is looking for in the workplace. Even though following these recommendations may make the interview process more time-consuming initially, it’s more likely a match is made that cost less money and time in the long run.

Want to learn more? Watch my on-demand webinar, Finding a Perfect Match: A Look at Both Sides of the Interview Process.


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Written by Dr. Lynette Reed

Writer, researcher and advisor on human potential for personal and organizational development, Dr. Lynette Reed has mentored people from in businesses, not-for-profits, schools, allied health agencies, chambers of commerce, government and churches. She has taught courses on team building, leadership, ethics, world religion and world cultures. Her current literary contributions include an executive summary paperback titled, Fixing the Problem: Making Changes in How You Deal with Challenges, as well as book contributions, articles, guest radio appearances and a series of children’s books with Abingdon Press. She is also a co-founder and board member of the Institute for Soul-Centered Leadership at Seton Cove. Lynette holds a Doctor of Ministry in Spirituality, Sustainability, and Inter-Religious Dialogue and a Master of Science in Communication Sciences and Disorders. Contact her at expectations2reality@icloud.com.

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