16 October 2013

How Law & Order teaches you better interviewing skills

‘Objection! Leading the witness!
 
‘Objection! Speculation!’
 
‘Objection! Relevance?’
 
These lines are classic courtroom interjections I have heard in movie and TV dramas for as long as I can remember.
 
It’s all designed to create greater dramatic tension. How true is it all to real life in a US courtroom? I don’t know, as I have never been in one but I certainly enjoy watching the fictionalised courtrooms that the characters in the various Law & Order franchises inhabit.
 
You might not realise it, but these common interjections you witness most nights on your TV screen, are just as valuable for recruiters as an educational tool when I consider the cringe-worthy interview questions asked of many candidates by people who should know better.
 
A court is a place for facts, not speculation or opinion. Just as an interviewer should be, a courtroom lawyer is focused on asking questions that get to the facts of the matter at hand.
 
For example:
 
Interviewer: What would your manager say about you?
Counsel for the Institute of Effective Interviews: Objection! This question is asking the candidate to speculate. Please stick to asking factual questions!
Interviewer: I’ll rephrase. What has your manager said about your performance in your most recent performance review?
 
Interviewer: You left your job in March. Did you resign?
Counsel for the Institute of Effective Interviews: Objection! Leading the witness!
Interviewer: I’ll rephrase. What were the circumstances of you leaving your most recent job?
 
Interviewer: What does success mean to you?
Counsel for the Institute of Effective Interviews: Objection! How is this question relevant? Please be more specific!
Interviewer: I’ll rephrase. How is success defined in your current job and by this definition how successful have you been in your current job?
 
Interviewer: How would you deal with conflicting priorities?
Counsel for the Institute of Effective Interviews: Objection! This question is asking the candidate to speculate. Please stick to asking factual questions!
Interviewer: I’ll rephrase. How have you dealt with conflicting priorities in your current job?
 
Interviewer: Do you have dependent children?
Counsel for the Institute of Effective Interviews: Objection! How is this question relevant?
Interviewer: I’ll rephrase. This job requires interstate travel for three days at a time twice a month. Would you be able to consistently undertake this aspect of the job?
 
There is plenty for recruiters to learn from fictionalised courtrooms, primarily, to stick to the facts! Ask evidence or factual questions and avoid leading, speculative and opinion seeking questions.
 
It sounds easy but from what I witness, it appears to be very hard for many interviewers to put into practice.
 
Note: Law & Order: SVU is currently screening on Network 10 Melbourne on Thursday nights
 
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