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Dear Huddie: How do I conduct an Interview?

August 2, 2013

Back for installment 15 of Dear Huddie – a bi-weekly column to assist engineer job hunters in their pursuit of happiness.   We are in the homestretch of summer, beaches, pools and baseball games with football not too far behind.

Dear Huddie,

Due to recent reorganization along with company cutbacks I have been asked to assist in interviewing potential employees.  The issue is I struggle reading people, can you give me a few pointers?


New to this interviewing thing

Thank you for opening my eyes, I continue to focus on the ‘potential employee’ and forget about the person sitting on the other side of the table.  Below is a list of things to look for in an interview broken down by physical and mental things to look for.


Physical Elements to Evaluate in an Interview

1 – Eye contact

You want to make sure there is eye contact when a person is answering a question.   I don’t mean a stare down, but someone who is paying attention.  The opposite would be someone simply looking down or away at all times, this is a sign of someone trying to hide something.

2 – Posture

Are they slouched?  Are they slouched with head down?   Better stay away from those types.   Someone sitting on the edge of their seat always intrigued me – made me feel they were really into winning the job.  The “relaxed” person could be a good fit, laid back a little in the chair,  Careful, do not want then too relaxed, like if they fell asleep during the interview!

3 – Demeanor

How does the overall package make you feel? Do you feel comfortable around this person?  You should, as you want others to feel comfortable around a new employee.  I realize not all personalities fit or make each other comfortable, but it’s an easy way to toss out the bottom of the barrel.


Mental Elements to Evaluate in an Interview

1 – Get them on their heels!

Interviews can be thought of like a first date, and you better believe the person you are talking to is on first date behavior.   The best person that ever interviewed me put me on my heels, and after getting the job I approached him about his interviewing practices.  He intentionally wanted to find a way to make the person uncomfortable – or better yet in a pressure situation.  Why?  To see how the person acts while under pressure, in turn seeing firsthand how they would work under pressure.  How?  Tough questions to answer – but one sure fire way is to travel down “tell me a weakness” boulevard.  Start easy with “what is one of your weaknesses?”  Might be an easier transition if you first ask what strengths they bring to the table, then a weakness.

2 – References

Without getting specific with them, ask about what references they would provide, and why did they choose those references.  This should lead to a comfort zone for them, you would think!  It could also trend towards the pressure situation from above.  You could go down a road of “tell me a reference you would NOT want to provide and why?” – you will see them under pressure after starting that conversation.


Thank you again for listening, that’s it for now, next installment in two weeks – don’t forget to send your Dear Huddie questions to