8 minutes…

07 Nov

8 minutes…

When I think about time, what are some things that I could do in 8 minutes?  According to T-Nation, an MMA site I found on the internet, I could do 200 push ups in various ways or Amazon states that I could order an on-line book in this time.  I could also boil an egg for my breakfast or meditate to sooth my soul, so holistically, there are lots of things I can do in 8 minutes.

What I shouldn’t be able to do is conduct a successful job interview in 8 minutes!  But this is what happened to a young friend of mine when she went for her first job interview outside of high school!

She turned up to the interview at exactly 3.30pm at the scheduled interview time; she had prepared herself mentally, she had taken time with her appearance and she was nervous but excited and hopeful about the process.  At 3.38pm I got a text – ‘quite literally the fastest interview ever’ and then she told me she proceeded to cry off and on over the 45 min drive home from the interview.

This is not the experience that you want to give your potential candidates.  Over the last 10 years I have conducted many interviews and I am conscious that I will be interviewed as much as I will be interviewing the candidate.  When interviewing, I have always allowed between 30 minutes and 2 hours depending on the seniority of the role and the style of interview I will be going into.  Traditionally, I have found, interviews usually last between 45 minutes to one hour to be truly successful in gauging the suitability of a candidate.

Here are 8 steps to follow to ensure you don’t conduct an 8-minute interview:

1.  Job role – do you have any understanding of the role and what a successful candidate looks like?  Have you researched the candidate to ensure you are asking the right questions through the interview?
2.  The process – candidates should know from the start what the process will be, what the expectations are with regards to responses and what the next steps will be so they are not waiting anxiously for your feedback.
3.  Conversation vs. interrogation – try and keep that candidate at ease through the process by keeping the style conversational rather than a police inquiry.  This also brings me back to point 1. – you will only be able to do this if you have done your research.
4.  Ask lots of questions – Depending on the style of interview and level you are interviewing, you may have set questions to prompt conversations but you will often get more information from candidates by listening and asking follow up questions like ‘why’.
5.  Allow questions from the candidates –  give the candidate time to ask questions and be prepared with thoughtful, honest answers.  Think of what you might ask and ensure you have the answer.
6.  Follow up with others – good candidates will bring their A-game to the interview but you also want to know how they treated others while they were waiting.  Speak to peers or Reception staff to understand how they conducted themselves outside of the interview.
7.  Reference checks – there are lots of debate about referee checks but I think they are a good temperature gauge of the candidate’s previous performance or at the very least an understanding of who they are comfortable for you to call.  If the referees look off – ask why you can’t contact certain references such as previous Managers.  Great candidates should not have anything to hide.
8.  One more interview – even if you are sure about the candidate, give yourself or others a chance to be absolutely positive that you have made the right choice.  I previously worked for a large business that allowed the team to meet the candidate to ask questions prior to offer and I loved this – it gave everyone a sense of buy in and it kicked started the culture fit.

So, what happened to my young friend?  Surprisingly she got the job as she had been well prepared, presented herself professionally and answered the couple of questions asked confidently but was this the experience she should have gone through to get the job?

The success of any interview depends just as much on you as the interviewer as it does the candidate; don’t give it only 8 minutes to find the right fit for your business.


Helen Tame , HR Strategist

Helen brings over 15 years of Marketing Management and HR experience to the team and has worked in a variety of industries including retail, wholesale, logistics and not-for-profit business environments. With a passion coaching and mentoring teams, Helen provides contemporary high level operational and strategic support across the full spectrum of Human Resource settings.

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