Interview Techniques to Find a Prince Among the Frogs

Do you want a perfect performer or a perfect interviewer?


Professionals that change jobs frequently are the best at interviewing. They have more practice. Those who are constantly on the job market have honed their interview skills, which tend to cover up their skill set deficiencies or personality defects.

Ask yourself this question…when times get tough in an economy or on a project and people have to be cut, whom do managers choose to be the first or second to go? The top performers? Those who can get the job done? I think not.

How do you ferret out the good performers from underperformers who find themselves frequently on the market? What skills must an interviewer have to uncover the gems that exist under the surface of discomfort with the interview process?

Other than having a good recruiter doing the initial screening so you’re only looking at potential “princes,” a good interviewer must find a way to get the interviewee to relax and open up. An open and warm style of questioning is probably the best and easiest way to put a candidate at ease.

  • Relax the environment by beginning with some light chatter, showing some concern for the comfort of the individual and then opening with conversation about the area a person seems to call home.
  • Many interviewees are counseled, and rightly so, to always go to an interview in a suit. For the men, asking the candidate to relax and remove their coat is a good softener. For the woman, if she has a jacket that can be removed, this too might relax the atmosphere.
  • Most candidates will not accept drink during the interview for fear of needing a bio break, so don’t be put off when they turn down the offer. However, should the candidate accept the water or coffee, make sure that the opportunity to take a break after an hour is presented.

Brusque, stern or challenging styles and argumentative responses to answers will most certainly cause the uncomfortable interviewer to further withdraw, preventing the manager from really knowing the skills and personality of the candidate.

I must admit that I am guilty of a little oversimplification and generalization in this opinion, as there are always special circumstances or special people who do find themselves changing jobs more frequently than others. Some of them are grand performers, and a manager would do well to snag them. It is usually easy to get the information from these people because they have developed good skills at interviewing.

However, many great performers are poor interviewees. They find discomfort in the interview process. I think this is especially true amongst the ranks of the technical professions such as IT or engineering. Developing the skill to help those top performers come out of their cover and expose their knowledge is a challenge to all hiring managers.

Have you developed any opinion on this topic? What techniques do you use to find the charming prince amongst so many frogs?

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