0 You can be a Panel Beater

Yes, you can you be a panel beater. An interview panel beater. In this - his 100th article for Pitchcare magazine - Trainer and Accredited Interviewer Frank Newberry looks at how you can help recruiters to pick YOU for a great job. Why is helping the interviewer so important? Because the majority of employers in our sector have not been trained as interviewers. Despite not having this key skill, few employers are willing to miss out on doing job interviews. Keep on reading to find out how to get a free list of questions to ask interviewers at the end of a job interview.

Let's start with WHY untrained interviewers insist on doing this important work themselves. I would argue that many of them have the commendable desire to take responsibilty and be held accountable for all hiring decisions - this is great.

In my experience though, untrained interviewers tend to insist on doing the interviews themselves because they think they do not need training, or they are unaware that interview training seminars exist. They may have never worked with a trained interviewer, or they may even think that a new employee's trial period will expose anything they may have missed during the job interviews. This last one could end up being an expensive way of getting the right person for the job!

I have met employers that: 1) think they are good at talking - and therefore they must be good at interviewing; 2) think they are a 'good judge' of character; and 3) are unable to cope with the thought of not seeing the candidates at the interview stage. Let us take these three one at a time and see how we can help the interviewer to choose you for that great job:

1) good at talking and therefore good at interviewing

Sadly, there is no evidence to show that being a good speaker makes you a good interviewer. It is more likely that the opposite will be true. I have seen 'good speakers' talk for up to 80% of the time available for an interview.

I have seen candidates struggle to get a word in at their own interview! One very verbal interviewer I worked with even complained to me that the candidates 'seemed quiet' that day.

A trained interviewer aims to speak for 30-35% of the interview. This should be long enough to ask questions, probe responses and steer the interview process to its conclusion.

Unfortunately, many untrained interviewers are looking for opportunities to explain something unusual (something which might end up having a predictable conclusion), and then they want to get the candidate's agreement or reaction to their story.

What to do:

We, as candidates, can exploit this tendency be letting the interviewer talk and then nodding in agreement at appropriate moments.

2) a 'good judge of character'

Often, crafty candidates can stick this 'good character' label onto themselves by tuning in quickly to what the untrained interviewer seems to prefer in a candidate.

Crafty candidates then play their trump card, which is the 'hire me because I am just like you' card - they do this from early on in the interview.

Whereas the nervous, but sometimes better qualified, candidates may take longer to settle down. The trained interviewer understands and takes into consideration this natural anxiety throughout the interview. A trained interviewer gives candidates time to settle down, he or she wants everyone to perform well at the interview stage - not just the crafty candidates.

What to do:

As candidates, we can get 'up to speed' quickly by rehearsing answers to predictable questions well in advance. We should make a record of our good answers and recite or rehearse these answers to ourselves, or our friends, over and over again until the words flow smoothly from our lips. This is vital because, in this sector, employers do tend to hire and promote people with good social and communication skills.

In many cases, a candidate's technical skills are just assumed to be okay. Many employers do not even evaluate technical skills at the selection stage. Technical knowledge may be tested, but not technical ability. This is a real missed opportunity because tests are simple to do and make very good 'screening' devices, before the interviews, and then again after interviews they can serve as a 'tie-breaker' or candidate 'ranking' device.

See my Pitchcare Magazine article from February 2011 (on the Pitchcare website) to read more about selection tests.

3) unable to cope with not seeing candidates at the interview stage

This is reasonable, and it would be unfair to keep untrained employers away from interviews for such a reason. I am very happy when employers join my interview panels to see how (all) the candidates get on, but I feel strongly they should leave the interviewing - asking questions, probing responses and steering the conversation - to qualified interviewers.

Well trained and experienced interviewers know their weaknesses

Well trained and experienced interviewers know their weaknesses and, in my experience, find the selection process demanding and stressful.

This army of untrained interviewers will really need your help if they are to make the right selection. There is research that suggests that trained interviewers have a 61% success rate. Untrained interviewers achieve only 31% success (success being - getting the right person for the job).

Occasionally, I get to ask newly appointed grounds people and greenkeepers what the standard of their job interview questions was like.

Almost unanimously, they rate the questions as poor and predictable and the answers they then gave interviewers, were not probed sufficiently - if at all.

An untrained interviewer will often rely on hypothetical questions

Let us now review what will make your interview answers powerful, no matter how weak the questions are. An untrained interviewer will often rely on hypothetical questions like:

'What would you do if groundsmen were being abused by members of the public?' or,

'What would you do if the greens team was running behind schedule and the start of a tournament was being delayed?

These questions sound good, but they will reveal knowledge rather than experience. Employers want to know what you have done, as well as what you know.

What to do:

You can help the interviewer by asking:

'May I tell you about what I have done in the past in these situations?'

You can then differentiate yourself from your competition for the vacancy by giving an answer based on evidence and not opinion. Your less crafty competitors (in trying to impress the panel of interviewers) may be giving a hypothetical answer to a hypothetical question.

It is much easier to describe what you have done - than it is to say what you think - all the time worrying if you are saying what the interviewer wants to hear.

What to do:

The S.T.A.R. format (below) when answering an interview question helps at this point. You 'funnelling down' from a 'situation' to a 'result' will show logic and confidence. Always give your evidence rather than your reassurance.

SITUATION - Describe a relevant real-life situation or scenario; this will set the scene for the interviewer.

TARGET - Describe the target or task you set yourself in the situation outlined.

ACTION - Explain the action you took to complete your task or meet your target.

RESULT - Outline the outcome you achieved, and what you learned from it.

'Tripling' is a powerful way to answer questions.

What to do:

As mentioned on these pages in past issues, 'tripling' is a powerful way to answer questions. When you are practising your answers, try to have three things to say. When you say something like 'I think there were three things that needed to be sorted out in this situation', it sounds convincing. One is just not enough, two may be less than convincing - and four is too many!

Use the words 'I' and 'my' and not 'we' and 'us'

What to do:

Many people in our sector are 'team players' and often over-modest. As I have said (in previous articles), you should use the words 'I' and 'my' and not 'we' and 'us' in your interview responses. The interviewers need to know what you did and what you think. If you say 'we and 'us' the interviewer will not know specifically what you did and may discount your answer.

No one is perfect and a good interviewer may want to know about any significant mistakes and errors you have made. Prepare to give real life examples that clearly show how you recovered from your mistake(s).

Towards the end of the interview you will be asked if you have any questions.

What to do:

You should thank the panel for their time and then ask something meaningful like 'Do you anticipate any changes that might affect this job in the near future?'

Free list of questions to ask interviewers

I have a page of sample questions you can pick from to ask the interviewers at the end of an interview. If you would like to see them, just click on the 'Request Information' tab under the 'Contact' section of my website www.franknewberry.com . Ask for 'Questions to ask the interviewers' and leave an email address.

I am giving away six free online consultations in the coming period. If you manage to get one (an hour on Skype or Zoom), you can use the time for a practice interview - perhaps for your next job or promotion. I will give you feedback and encouragement as a thank you for reading my articles.

If you would like a free consultation, just click on the 'Request Information' tab under the 'Contact' section of my website www.franknewberry.com. Ask for 'Free consultation' and leave an email address..

In the meantime, good luck with beating the panel at your next interview!

© 2022 Frank Newberry

100 up and happy to help!

To celebrate writing his 100th article for Pitchcare magazine, Frank Newberry is giving away six free consultations to say thank you for reading his Pitchcare articles. Six consultations because Frank has been writing six articles per year for Pitchcare for nearly seventeen years now.

These one hour, online consultations, (on Zoom, Skype etc) can take the form of:

• a conversation about a pressing matter at work, including people problems

• a conversation about proactive job searching - where to start?

• a practice interview - as a candidate, or as an interviewer

• a conversation about getting a promotion

• a conversation about getting a pay rise

If YOU would like to get a free confidential online consultation - just click on the 'Request Information' tab under the 'Contact' section of the website www.franknewberry.com. Just request a 'free consultation' and leave an email address.

Editorial Enquiries Editorial Enquiries

Contact Kerry Haywood

07973 394037

Subscribe to the Pitchcare Magazine Subscribe to the Pitchcare Magazine

You can have each and every copy of the Pitchcare magazine delivered direct to your door for just £30 a year.