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So You’re the Interviewer – Are You Really Paying Attention?


(Photo credit Tim Gouw – unsplash)

As a presenter at the recent Networking Summit in Dublin I had the opportunity to engage with attendees from many different business backgrounds. One question I was asked frequently was whether I help interviewees prepare by profiling their known or likely interviewers beforehand. Whilst I do it on occasion I’m more likely to be found sitting with the interviewer(s).

Conducting an interview well requires a vital skillset which many interviewers lack. Indeed many interviewers appear to fall into the role without any training. Being head of a department is in itself by no means adequate. Frequently the area in which the successful applicant will work is not represented in the interview process. It is also unfortunately a common phenomenon for interviewers to fall victim to confirmation bias, either choosing or rejecting a candidate based on qualities they associate with people they either like or dislike.

All of that notwithstanding my role is to assess the candidates in terms of their personality, behaviour style, communication patterns – both how they communicate and how they receive and process – stress triggers and responses and their adaptability. As a rule the interviewer(s) will ask most of the questions, but I may well interject with one or more of my own if I see an issue which requires me to draw the attention of the interviewer.

Using my training in the Chinese art of Mien Shiang (Face Reading) I’m picking up a great deal of information about the aforementioned aspects of the interviewee. I’m also observing body language and micro expressions. When taken as a whole this offers a great deal of insight into the person behind the CV, their ability to articulate and the elegance and style of their attire.

Small details such as being overly demonstrative with their non-dominant hand, or sudden movements of their feet are often ‘red flags’ alerting me to incongruencies in their presentation. It is clearly understood by my clients that I do not advise on hiring/promoting or not. That must be their decision. What I provide is clear and accurate information as to the how the candidates are likely to interact and behave in the real workplace.

Aside from – and more important than – the hands and feet I recommend paying particular attention to the eyes. Making eye contact is normal in most western cultures and we form first impressions in a matter of seconds. Whether we pay conscious attention to those first impressions is another matter, especially in our modern world of continuous stimulatory bombardment! The eyes convey such a wealth of information about the individual that it is remiss in any business context not to pay attention.

In particular I recommend asking oneself the following questions:

  • Are the eyes warm or cold i.e. friendly or hostile?
  • Are they bright or dull i.e. energetic or tired?
  • Open and engaged or hiding?

Asking yourself these 3 questions and being alert for the answers will help eliminate making very expensive mistakes. Employing/promoting the wrong person at senior level may involve direct financial costs of 2.5 times their annual salary, disruption to employee morale resulting in decreased productivity and increased absenteeism, customer dissatisfaction and other negative ripple effects.

So I return to my original question to the interviewer. Are you paying attention? The truth is out there!

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Joseph McGuire is the owner of Clearsight Communications who provide personal evaluation services and training in the areas of senior level recruitment/promotion, negotiations, sales communications and HR. He is also the author of the soon to be published book  Face Facts:The Art of Reading Your Clients and Prospects for Sales, Negotiation and Recruitment’. Now available to pre-order:

Individual consultation sessions are available both in person and via Skype. He is also in demand for group presentations, private functions and conferences. Contact:

Or call: + 353-(0)87-246 1853