Parsing the Interview

Identifying the best candidate for a higher ed job seems like a very subjective process. What makes one candidate’s interview better than another’s can often be hard to quantify, yet you must do so to remove the appearance of bias from the process, and, properly done, it can help you to select the best candidate.

When interviewing candidates for university jobs, prepare a set of questions to be asked of each candidate. Then identify what you would like to hear in the answer to each question and make a list with those points.

Ex: Tell us about a time when you had to deal with an upset student?

Points you might want to hear in the response:

  • Compassion
  • Ability to diffuse situation
  • Ability to resolve situation
  • Follow up to make sure student is all right
  • Demonstration of concern for others involved
  • Steps taken to prevent recurrence

Listen to the candidate’s answer and put a checkmark by each bullet point that is included in the answer. You can even use a + or – sign to indicate answers that exceed or don’t quite meet your criteria. If the response contains elements you like that are not listed in your bullet points, then make a note of that and give “extra credit.”

This way you can assign a value to each candidate’s interview. You can also include overall points for factors such as:

  • Presents professional image
  • Makes appropriate eye contact with members of interview panel
  • Speaks in clearly articulated, well-modulated voice

Many candidates talk a lot without actually answering the questions. By identifying what you are hoping to hear in the answers, you can focus on the content of what they say and not be distracted by someone who may be likable but doesn’t have the skill set one needs for college employment.

Dindy Robinson has many years of human resources experience in higher education institutions.

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