Do you struggle in the interview?  Is your confidence quickly derailed when an interview takes an odd turn (most do)?  What issues do you have that you would like to change in your interviewing to be more effective?

This is Part 2 of our Baker’s Dozen of Common Mistakes to Damage our Effective Interviewing.  These issues interfere with us maximizing the quality and quantity of information obtained from interviewees.  The root of these are oversights and some are just the result of bad habits or inadequate training, but left unchecked they can negatively affect our interviewing landscape.

In Part 1 we listed the Baker’s Dozen and examined in depth the first seven.  Here we will replay the Lousy List of 13 and then expand on the last 6.

This material should motivate us to examine our habits and objectively determine if we are practicing any of the 13.  If so, we need to effectively remove them from our repertoire.  To assist with this our interview training is designed to train good habits and mitigate bad ones to facilitate more successful, complete, and productive interviews.

I see it all the time and will confess it was true for me as well.  I spent years in the field doing thousands of interviews with some excellent results, but with little quality training.  Consequently, there were things I did wrong that compromised my ability to maximize the information I obtained.  It was only when I entered the training arena that I understood the error of my way.  Okay, you say hand up an example.  Handling denials, shutting them down, in order to prevent being distracted from my interview plan.  This is a huge and frequent problem that if corrected can save time and produce much better results.

So, this blog is about those faux paus.  We’ll call them common mistakes.  It’s up to you to honestly decide which ones are common to you.  I have established my baker’s dozen list, certainly not all inclusive, but enough to get you thinking and reflecting.  Self-analysis is essential.  I am calling it one blog, but coming in two parts, this to allow you to focus on each item, and secondly, so my critics can’t complain that my blogs are too long.

Here’s the list to start the processing, and then we will split the list and explore them:

So having examined the first seven issues in part one of our series, here we will look at the last six.  Be open to their existence in your interviewing repertoire.  Hopefully, most have no ownership on your interview property, and the ones that do, you need to remove as squatters.

  • Wrong theme/RPM

When we have completed outstanding interview planning, we have established our themes and rationalizations, projections, and minimizations for why the interviewee did what he did.  With that in mind we plan out our themes for deployment during the interview.  Sometimes with this excellent planning we lock into a theme that we think is great, even though it does not resound in any way with the person we are speaking to. (Sometimes I just do not have a clue.)  When this happens, we need to drop this theme and move on.  I have seen interviewers go through six or seven themes before they hit on the one that resonates with the interviewee.

We must be fully engaged in active listening when we are deploying themes.  If one is not working and you are getting push-back from the interviewee, drop it and move to the next.  Remember this isn’t about your acting ability, it is about your understanding of the interviewee, which we will cover in the next item on this list.

  • Failure to understand the interviewee’s perspective

One of the main purposes of rapport is to establish commonality with the interviewee.  We attempt to do this to better understand where that individual is at.  As we create quality rapport, we know that trust increases, and with trust we see greater sharing.  Its through this process where we glean insights into what is happening in the interviewee’s life and mind.

We do not have to agree with their perspective, but the better we demonstrate understanding of it the less judged the interviewee will feel and the more they will share.  Remember our mission and goal in the interview room.  It is to maximize the quality and quantity of truthful information we receive.

  • Interviewer’s nonverbal behavior

What signs are you giving off in the interview room?  We call it having “rubber-face.”  Are you showing your emotions, thoughts, and responses on your face?  What message does that convey to the person you are speaking to?  Are you attempting to establish commonality while at the same time non-verbally distancing yourself from the interviewee?

This is not the venue to judge, remember we are not judges, we are mediators of the truth, and these behaviors will undoubtedly keep us from the truth. Be aware of how you come across.  Have your partner keep you in check and call you out.  One way to minimize this is to invest wholly in the last item on the list, Understanding the Interviewee’s Perspective.  If we are fully invested in that process, we are less likely to be facially judging that person.

  • Interviewer’s Weakness in Interviewing

While we are accessing the person we are speaking to, they are observing us.  If we are uncomfortable, not confident, and lacking credibility that interviewee is going to pick up on it and exploit it.  This weakness is compounded if we go to an interview and just “wing it.”  When we ask in classes it is amazing how many people do this.

We must have sufficient training and preparation to eliminate these “tells.” This mistake is connected to the last mistake in this list, Giving up.  The training provides the confidence that exudes from you when doing an interview.  Research shows that most people tell us what they have done because they believe we already know.  This is true when we do, and when we do not.  It is all in how we present ourselves.

  • Choice question presented too early

Part of the progression of an effective interview is the presentation of a choice question.  This either-or question should be presented once the interviewee has had effective themes presented and is in submission.  Much like the first item on the list, if we pursue the wrong theme because we think it is awesome, we will not move the interviewee to submission.  However, is we are blind to this, we can easily get done with the theme presentation and move to the choice question.  This is too early, and the question will be ineffective.  Another reason we present to early is because we have gone through our steps and it is the next thing to do.  What this leaves out of the equation is our need to understand the interviewee’s perspective and observe where they are at.

  • Giving up

This is such a frustrating mistake, and an occurrence we are seeing more and more in the training environment.  We ask our questions, get our answers, and get up and leave.  In the process we leave tons of information on the table.  Our job is to get the truth, the whole truth, and abandoning our mission mid-stream is not part of the plan.

Why does this happen?  Poor planning, lack of diligence, not enough confidence.  We need to stay in the room and get the truth.  Correcting the three above will help that.  You will be prepared for the eventualities that happen in the interview.  One of the most noted benefits of our training is providing tools and theory that mitigate those three and allow the completion of a complete interview.

I’m sure one or more of these common faux paus have creeped into your interviewing.  Next interview, get out there and eliminate one.  After that, one at a time until they are all gone and watch your results improve dramatically and consistently.

Anderson Investigative Associates is positioned to custom tailor training to your specific needs. We address issues to resolve each of these common mistakes in the blocks that we instruct.  If you have any questions or would like to discuss the above blog or any training need, please reach out to me.  Additional issues pertaining to interviewing, auditing, and investigations can be found in other blogs that I have written and are contained in most blocks of instruction that our company presents.

If you have additional questions or comments or have a topic you would like to see covered in a blog, give me a shout.  In the meantime, be well and be safe out there.

Mark A. Anderson

Director of Training and Development

Anderson Investigative Associates, llc

114 Loucks Avenue

Scottdale, PA  15683