Two Time Compression Tactics

As an interviewer you want the most actionable data per unit of time. (Subject to the candidate also having an enjoyable experience.)

If you've ever ran out of time (or run over your allotted time) you know that time is your scarcest resource. 

What if there were a couple of tactics that could get you more time? Here are two time savers that I love employing during my interviews:

1. Stop guessing what's important.

One thing that I see a lot when coaching is the interviewer attempting to (implicitly) hazard a guess as to the hardest or most valuable part of the story. They will say something like "So tell me about stakeholder management — how did you handle that?" and when I ask them *why* they asked that question, it becomes clear they ASSUMED that must have been the most difficult (or impressive) part of the story.

This is often a big and unnecessary risk to take as an interviewer. Unless you are an expert in the particular domain, your guess will often be wrong (as it is in my of the coaching sessions I observe). So by guessing in the dark you are wasting time. A much better approach is one of the following:

"What are you proudest of here?"
"What was hardest in this project?"
"What most impressed your boss (client) here?"

2. Missing the "two-for"

You sometimes have an opportunity to ask a follow-up question that will get you two answers in one. If a candidate is talking about a team's accomplishments or using the word "we" a lot, a reasonable follow-up question is the following:

"What role did you play on this project?"

But a better follow-up (in most cases) would be:

 "What was your unique impact here?"

This is because in answering this question they will almost be required to briefly explain the role they held. And it's the impact that you're actually after, not their role. 

Notice that both of these time-saving tactics are fairly direct in nature. You just ask the EXACT question you are really curious about instead of attempting to get there in a roundabout format.

Side note: The reason that you can be direct here is that there is no "right" answer to these questions. Just be direct, use great rapport, and you'll increase your interviewing accuracy.  

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