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.

About the author

Charlie has spent more than 20 years in Perth’s tech and startup sector, firstly as a founder himself, through to exit, and more recently as a writer, advisor and investor. Originally from the UK, Charlie worked in Singapore before arriving in Perth in 1997 to do an MBA at UWA. Graduating as top student in 1999 he set up online real estate business aussiehome.com, running it for 10 years before selling to REIWA, whereupon Charlie ran reiwa.com. In 2013, he moved to Business News to lead their digital transformation as CEO, and then worked for the federal government’s Accelerating Commercialisation program, funding pre-revenue startups and innovative businesses. He now works in an advisory capacity for multiple tech and other businesses, is managing editor of Startup News and co-host of the Startup West podcast. He also writes a column for Business News on startups. Charlie sits on the advisory boards of WA Leaders, TEDxPerth, WAITTA, the Perth Symphony Orchestra, and the full board of Rise Network.

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