Session Eleven: The Art of the Interview

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Over her 15+ years of experience sourcing, attracting, and working with top talent, and having conducted over 20,000 interviews, ElevenEleven co-founder Tess knows a thing or two about mastering “The Art of the Interview”. In this Session Eleven, she breaks it down into three foundational pieces to help set you up for interview success and an unforgettable candidate experience. 

#1 Set Intentions for the Space

First impressions are not only everything—they set the tone for the interview. As an interviewer, it’s just as important to you that your interviewees perform well. It allows their best selves to shine through, which ultimately makes for better decision making and a positive candidate experience. Creating the conditions for the interviewee to feel safe and comfortable allows their authentic self to shine through, and allows you to connect with them on deeper levels. So open the curtains, turn on the diffuser, and create conditions that catalyze comfort.

#2 Stop, Sit, and Listen

Next and equally important is the act of listening. It may seem obvious, but we cannot stress enough that it is the single most crucial action you must perform as an interviewer. Active listening allows you to gain a deep sense of who the candidate is, and more importantly, what they stand for. So dig deep, ask the hard, provocative questions, and always leave them open-ended.

#3 Empower Their Purpose

And finally, you should have the end goal of understanding what is truly meaningful to the candidate—what is their purpose? What drives them? If you can understand what’s most important to them in a career, you’ll be able to understand what fuels their passion, and present them with an offer that is centred around their “why”.

More to Mastering The Art

The above are the core components of mastering the Art of the Interview, but like any craft, there’s much more to consider. Here are a few of our must-do’s: 

  1. Be present. Keep phones, laptops, and other distractions tucked away. You want the person you’re meeting with, whether you’re the interviewer or interviewee, to know you have each others’ undivided attention. A notebook and pen will do for notes.

  2. Interview for virtue, not verification. What we mean is, don’t base your assessment on the bullets in a resume. Look for courage, resilience, grit. Will this person work hard not only for you, but also for their team, and more importantly, themselves?

  3. Trust your gut. That instinctive feeling known as intuition is actually grounded in neuroscience. This neural process actually works faster than rational thought, making the case for trusting your gut all the more powerful when making impactful decisions.

  4. Put yourself in the candidate’s shoes. Interviewing is always nerve-wracking, no matter how prepared you are. Understand what is going on for the candidate physiologically: they will be in flight or flight mode. Do your best to get them to relax, feel at ease, and treat them like an old friend. It’s okay to laugh and make light conversation. Do what you need to do to get pull out their most authentic self— a light joke usually does the trick!

  5. Build brand advocacy. Regardless of whether you hire this person, they are a potential customer, networking connection, or they may even hire you one day! Build an experience they’ll remember you for. They’ll spread the word and hopefully sing your praises, and you never know when your paths may cross again. It’s not about burning bridges, it’s about building them.

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