It’s difficult being interviewed, but oh so much harder doing the interviewing. I’ve done a bit of both (but more interviewing than being interviewed), and the interview is an odd environment when you come to think about it.
Somehow, over a 20-30 minute conversation back and forth with the interviewee you are ascertaining whether this person would be the right fit for the vacant job. You have to imagine them working in the team, reporting to you, how they would work alongside their colleagues, how they would add to the team. Putting someone new into a team is both an opportunity and a challenge. Get it wrong, and the team can crumble (the A-graders will leave). Get it right, and it can pull everyone up by their bootlaces, giving perhaps much impetus with fresh new ideas and approaches.
Interviewers need that sixth sense I suppose. They also need to weed out any potential hidden mines – the person may seem reasonable on the surface, but they may have all manners of quirks and behaviours that may not come out in the interview. I am not one that submits to the ‘stress interview’. Challenging questions maybe, but you should start with some relaxing open questions so the interviewee is put at ease and pulls down any barriers. After all, you want to see the real them, not some weird cardboard version. Get them to be them, and you may then discover who they really are.
Overall, don’t forget that the interviewee is also interviewing you as an organisation. Not everyone can get the job, so you want those that don’t going away with positive feelings about the process and your organisation. Interviewing is an art as much as it is a science, but as long as you are well prepared, know what you are looking for, and what makes good staff, then you should be OK. The more you do it, the better you get at it, but no one is perfect.