A while back one of my search committees for an advising position was becoming frustrated with the standard interview process. The candidates were all prepared for the same model of round table questions and 2-3 minute responses. The content was rehearsed and the quality of candidates seemed to be below our expectations. In this moment, we decided it was time for a change.
The question we had to answer was ‘how do we make an interview more personal, less scripted, and more like an advising session?’ With this goal in mind, the committee sat down and re-envisioned what it would mean to interview, modeling a framework around an actual advisement session. We named this process the conversational interview – some since have called it a reverse, or flipped interview.
The Conversational Interview
The model for the conversational interview consisted of general introductions, a short presentation, and a ‘do you have any questions for us’ conclusion. Where it changed was after the presentation we asked candidates to take charge of the interview process. They were provided a list of key points we wanted addressed in the session: philosophy of advisement, experience with difficult situations, work experience, personal goals, time management, innovation they have implemented, a success story, a failure story, their own experience with advising, etc. They were instructed it would be up to them as the candidate, potential future advisor, to integrate all elements into a coherent conversation with our committee. Candidates were in charge of the direction of the conversation for the next 20-30 minutes.
The quality of the interactions in a conversational interview were far better than standard round table questioning and 2-3 minute responses. Thankfully this process worked well for all our interviews and only in the most extreme of cases did the conversation require committee interventions or prompts. We were able to learn more depth about the candidate’s work history, their philosophy, their goals, and how their experiences related to the position. Candidates often started out with the standard memorized scripts and quickly discovered they were going to need more for this scenario. They were forced to think on their feet, to integrate feedback as they asked questions or attempted to engage the committee, and manage their own time. They had to abandon scripts and be more authentic to synthesize the information we requested. Those who did not have these skills were quickly revealed. More was learned about candidate personalities and how they structured conversations. However, by far the largest factor was in learning how they were likely to act in a real advising session without having to do mock-advisement sessions.
Now that I have had enough experience leading the conversational interview, I cannot foresee ever returning to the round table scripted model. If you are interested in knowing more about this model or our experiences, feel free to contact me.
- NACADA: Hiring Interviews http://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Clearinghouse/View-Articles/Hiring–Interviews-.aspx
Originally posted at: A Career In College
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