Interviewing – Revisiting the Practice

Everyone has been in the hot seat of interviewing for the big position or the next position on your career path.  It can be high stress for all parties involved.  We’ve all seen advice on interviewing - what to do, what not to do, and what are considered red flags.  But, it ultimately comes down to two questions: 1. Is the employee right for your business and 2. Is your business right for the employee?  All subtleties aside, the hard-sell from the interviewer or interviewee may mean that there are other questions begging to be asked.  Within the hiring process there are many key points for interviewing where we can all reach common ground.

The Interviewer’s Role

The Interviewer’s role is to define what they need in a candidate and question/negotiate properly during the interview to verify the candidate’s personality, skills, and requirements align with that need. The must-have's for defining a need are:

  • Clear statement of need – What is the position, expectation, duties, duration?
  • Knowledge of the target culture – Does the interviewer know the staff that will be working with the candidate?
  • Knowledge of the position – What does a normal work week look like? Is this position new or existing? 
  • Salary range expectation – Hourly, Salary, W2, 1099, benefits?  As mentioned before don’t be alarmed if salary is unknown/negotiable for a new position, just be cautious.
  • Skillset needed – relative skills and background, skills that can augment the role, speed of learning new skills.
The Candidate’s Role

The candidate’s role is to be the subject matter expert for their own work experience.  View yourself as selling a product, which is your time and abilities. The following should be your focus:

  • What you know – Review your work history, but don’t overcomplicate it.  No one knows your history better than you during an interview.  Also, take the time to research your potential employer - what you know and don't know about that company is a serious indication of your interest level in the position, and employers know that.
  • What your skills are – Are they relevant to the position?  Avoid focusing on non-relatable/applicable skills on both your resume and in your interview. Highlight those found in the job description.
  • What is an acceptable salary range – It is in your best interest to negotiate the best salary possible, but be mindful that there is competition.  Negotiation is key and knowing what your skills are really worth in the market. Do some research on the title in that geographic area to see what the median is, and potentially even use that in your negotiation. Knowing how much competition exists with a similar skillset also helps.  Take the middle of the road - try not to undersell or oversell your experience. Consider the worth of benefits when calculating or considering a salary range.
  • Know yourself – Be prepared and do your research.  Many questions are asked during an interview, and I have seen my fair share.  Comfort level is important.  Treat your interview like a conversation and avoid feeling rushed.  The more familiar you are with your personality from an outside perspective, the easier it is to overcome nerves or anxiety. Don’t be afraid to respond, “Let me think about it and come back to it” to allow time to remember details. Your composure is the key.
  • Be genuine and forthright – No one wants to be cornered with a tough question at a critical moment. If you have made mistakes that are called into question, own up to them. We all make mistakes from time to time and humility and learning from our mistakes adds to personal character. 
Be Honest

For both parties, reading reactions and getting down to the base of the candidate/employer’s fit for a position are the end goals.  This is a time for looking at the world from the other participant’s viewpoint and determining where to go from there.

Honesty is key. I once spoke with someone who admitted to me that their first job in their industry was attained by selling the employer skills that they did not have. They got the position and gained some skills, but there is a better way to accomplish that goal. Would I hire that person now?  Most likely not. Regardless of the circumstance, to openly admit it and have pride in lying to acquire a position is a deep flaw in character.  Would that flaw benefit an employer? Would you want to be the one to refer them to a position knowing of this flaw?

On the interviewer side, I have also seen practices that appeared to violate commonly accepted lines between personal and business life, one even went so far as to respond “That wasn’t the smartest decision, was it?” Though it was in regard to leaving a position without a fallback plan, the implication and personal nature of the question alone led me to end the interview and continue the search for something new. You can avoid answers like those by simply practicing answering basic interview quesitons so you're prepared when they are thrown your way.

When being interviewed or interviewing a potential employee, keep in mind, everyone’s time is valuable, and we are not interviewing a skillset or position. We are interviewing people with people because despite having the best skillset, a candidate may not mesh well with the team, which renders them a bad hire. Ultimately, treat the other party with the same respect as you would want them to treat you.


Greg J. Heffner, Director of Legacy Support and Data Services
615.684.5556  |



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