Emtrain Blog

The Anatomy of a Great Job Interview

Posted by Steve Cadigan

February 18, 2015

Let’s face it, you want the best talent working for your organization. So, how do you go about ensuring that you’re selecting the best talent? The answer is simple: stop winging your interviews. Read on to learn how you can ask the right questions to make better recruitment decisions each and every time. 


Stop winging it

As a new (or veteran) manager, you need to plan ahead and stop relying on your gut or emotions to make a hire. That approach often results in picking the wrong candidate and having to go through the hiring process all over (and over) again down the line. Take a step back and focus on asking probing questions that give you the information you need to assess whether your candidate actually has the skills and experience to succeed in the job.

Here’s an example of a hiring manager simply asking generic questions that push the candidate into saying all the right things during the interview:

While the interviewing manager establishes a great rapport with the candidate, she doesn't find out any information about how the candiate will perform on the job.

Ask probing questions

In a behavioral interview, you’ll ask probing questions that will show you how someone actually performs tasks or thinks through problems they would regularly encounter on the job.

Now, let’s check out a different interview where the manager employs a behavioral interviewing style and makes the job candidate do the heavy lifting:

Pretty big difference, huh? The questions naturally pushed the candidate to go into detail about how he handled a past conflict with a customer. By walking the hiring manager through his process, he identifies deficiencies in his skill-set. Using this question process just helped the manager eliminate the guesswork from the interview and the difference is dramatic.

Ask questions that yield valuable information

A behavioral interview is all about watching a candidate work through a problem and answer your questions in real time. Your questions should begin with phrases like:

  • Tell me about a time when you…
  • Give me an example of when you…
  • Walk me through a situation where you…


By implementing a great interviewing process, you're shifting the work to the candidate and making them run through their paces rather than sitting back and telling you what you want to hear. The behavioral interview process gives you visibility while the traditional interview leaves you guessing with your first impression and emotions.

Ready to master the great job interview? Click to take your free 15-minute Great Interview course, featuring an interactive Q&A with Steve Cadigan, former VP of Talent at LinkedIn.

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steve_cadigan_icon Steve Cadigan             

Steve is one of Silicon Valley’s hottest properties when it comes to people, talent, culture, and team skills training. Prior to launching his own firm, Steve served as VP of Talent at LinkedIn from 2009 through 2012, taking the company from a private firm of 400 employees, through an IPO and into the powerhouse that it is recognized as today with over 5,000 employees.

Topics: Talent Management, Hiring Skills, People Skills