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Handling marketing job interviews.

Handling Marketing Job Interviews

Hiring good marketing people may be part art and part technique. There is not a whole lot you can do about the art part: You either have it or you do not. However, there are several ways in which you can sharpen your technique.

First, you must realize that interviewing candidates for sales and marketing positions is a highly complex task. You have to carefully plan your strategy in order to extract information critical to making a decision on whether to hire or eliminate a particular job candidate.

This strategy must be flexibly applied to the candidate, depending upon the information gained early in the interview. Questions must be phrased on the spot to get additional key data Pieces of information must be mentally compared for consistency and underlying meaning.

Behavior patterns and the candidate's motivations must be evaluated and compared with the demands and requirements of the job. And all of this must be accomplished in an atmosphere that will motivate the right candidate to want the position.

Inadequate preparation results in poor interviews. To improve interview quality, you should review the facts about the position, read the candidate's resume carefully, prepare yourself mentally to achieve objectivity during the interview and try to clear your mind of all other matters so that you can concentrate exclusively on the interview.

Before the interview:

* review and update the job description, or

* prepare a list of job responsibilities;

* list your performance expectations;

* study the candidate's resume, and

* prepare a comprehensive list of questions you want answered.

Compare information on the resume with the job requirements. Where the resume is unclear or where areas of experience are not addressed, target these as key questions during the interview. To avoid omissions, make a list of these topics to use as a guide.

During the interview, you should solicit input about the candidate while holding your own biases in check. The goal is to accumulate data without focusing on whether something is good or bad.

Be particularly careful not to form a dramatic first impression of the candidate or you may spend the next two hours subtly reinforcing your possibly erroneous reaction.

Choosing the Setting

The interview should be conducted in comfortable, nonthreatening surroundings that help the candidate relax. Particularly with marketing people, there are clear advantages to holding it in a neutral setting, such as a private club, restaurant or conference facility located outside the office. This lessens the status differential that may exist between you and the candidate and reduces any potential breach of confidentiality, should he be known to others in your organization.

Regardless of location, no interview can be optimized if there are frequent disruptions. If you use your office for the interview, be sure you isolate yourself from interruptions. Finally, have adequate arrangements for taking notes. By the end of a two-hour interview, most people will forget half of what they did not write down!

It is important to emphathize with the candidate and reduce his anxiety level. Without question, a relaxed candidate will talk more freely. You want to elicit natural behavior and relevant information about his abilities, feelings and opinions. Then, you can better evaluate his ability to function effectively in your organization.

When meeting a candidate, begin to reduce tension and establish a rapport by communicating in a relaxed, open, honest style. Be friendly. Be enthusiastic. Smile. It matters little which opening topic you select; just begin naturally where you think the person will be able to respond freely. If you feel uncomfortable making small talk, simply ask broad questions about his recent job history.

The effective interviewer listens during 80-90% of an interview. Remember: When you are talking, you are learning relatively little about the candidate. To be able to listen 90% of the time, your questions must be phrased so they trigger a rich, detailed response.

When you have covered all the topics on your interview outline, move on to the candidate's information needs. It is best to begin by providing a good, general overview of your foundry and the challenges associated with the open position. Then, tell the candidate you will be happy to answer questions.

When the interview moves into its later stages, you will be able to decide whether the candidate is worthy of further consideration. If so, communicate your affirmative reaction. It doesn't take much time to accomplish this. A simple statement such as, "I'm very happy that we have had this chance to talk and I think there are ways in which you can contribute to this organization," will let the candidate know that everything is going well.

Throughout the interview you should make notes about what is going to motivate the candidate to accept your offer. There is no specific point at which the motivating portion of the interview becomes the closing portion--one flows into the other.

During the closing phase, however, you should provide initial evaluation feedback. In the event that rejection is the ultimate outcome, a logical basis should have been formed by speaking of your concerns, which may range from the lack of specific knowledge or experience to severe differences between the candidate's current organization and your own.

Whatever your tentative conclusions, inform the candidate of the follow-up procedure.

After the interview, allocate time to review, analyze and reflect upon the information that has been presented. Of course, it will have been necessary

for yout o reach some preliminary conclusions before this point. However, an analysis of all the information following the interview often causes a modification of your initial reaction.

If you follow a well thought-out plan in interviewing job candidates, you will greatly increase your chances of hiring the right person.
COPYRIGHT 1989 American Foundry Society, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1989, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Author:Warden, T. Jerry
Publication:Modern Casting
Date:Nov 1, 1989
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