Equilibrium Institute- Delivering Core Intelligence

Apathy is not consent, it's the demand for Empowerment  

Interview Process


  Introduction and stated goals of the interview


  Obtaining permissions and releases if recording or requesting specific information on a candidate allowable in your state and profession. For example, credit report or criminal background checks. 


  Warm up questions


  The use of cues and probes(how the subject can be aware when youíre seeking elaborations for example)


  Keep the scope of questions/responses relevant


  Thinking on action (on your feet) or reflecting on action


  Evaluation methods/ criteria tied to purpose or original goals and ranking a candidates interview fairly


  Statement analysis following the interview.  Compare what you can verify against what you know or ask for additional supporting evidences or information. 



     If notes are taken in an interview, or if the interview is recorded, interviewers have an advantage of reviewing it later.  However, consult the laws in your state regarding obtaining permissions for recording an individual.  Also unless youíre an expert in interpreting tone or body language, it can be easy to make mistakes and make false assumptions so get clarifications and keep in mind interviews and being recorded adds layers of stress.  Not all statements or actions should be taken literally, and errors and omissions can be expected to some extent regardless of how simple or how complex the interview process is. 





8 Communication Inhibitors




1. Competing time demands


Solution: Make sure the interview schedules are conducive for all parties.


Stay on schedule to avoid fatigue.  If interviewees feel they are held to long on a subject or the exchange is overly controlled, the interviewee can become less engaged or even hostile.


2. Ego-threat.  Avoid making someone look bad or eliciting feelings of rejection, or influences exerted due to status which can alter behavior for a perceived favorable outcome.



    • Leading in questioning can contaminate or even invalidate the information. If favor is indicated for a certain type of response or if a response is suggested as being correct or preferred, the overt or implied suggestion can solicit compliance without it being factually what the respondent thinks or feels. Leading has resulted in false confessions for example.



Try to present questions and responses without showing judgmental attitudes or taking opposing positions.



3. Etiquette- donít be rude, obnoxious, or lack social skills.


    • Being overly sympathetic can inhibit communication


    • Interruptions, prolonged periods of silence, condescending tone, caution or rigidity can impact and produce stress which can impact responses




Practice being courteous, maintaining respect, dignity and learn how to help de-escalate hostile people and resolve conflicts if and when they arise. 



Equity, acknowledgement, patience, and a certain amount of flexibility helps create a more open, safe and trusted environment to share information.


4. Trauma limits the ability to adapt or cope in an environment or with specific circumstances


    • Repressed and suppressed memories, time lapses, hindsight versus original reactions and responses all impact quality of thinking and memory and abstract reasoning cognitive processes.


    • Some people work well under pressure or deadlines, others donít.


    • Staying in reasonable proximity of your skill level once optimally developed is recommended.  Except where stretching can occur at low risk. 



Most people have triggers that elicit different emotional responses and are often aware of what some of those triggers are. 



Seek support to deal with suppressed events and difficult past experiences.



Keep in mind there is a difference between behavior and perceptions or attitudes.  Behavior and perceptions or stated intentions are not always consistent.  Thus, how one perceives oneself and how others perceive them are often very different.  One measure of health is the congruence level between what a person values and thinks and how they behave. 




5. Forgetting displayed as omission lends to confusion, addition, guesswork or a tendency to reconstruct through imagination based distortions. 


Chronological and inferential confusion is also a result of forgetting. 



Age bias should not be a factor when assessing cognitive skills because peaks and decline at different times for diverse reasons occur.    




Try to determine how persistent the forgetting is in the candidate and source of the issue of forgetting.  Some sources may be managed, or reduced.  Whereas permanent types of damage such as those from injuries or birth defects may not be corrected.  Many pre-existing medical conditions will progress over time, some remaining relatively stable and many worsening over time. 



Strong physical conditioning, proper rest and nutrition, and exercises to improve memory are all part of the solution.  Understanding the lifestyle of the candidate can help you see their routines and commitment to keeping themselves in shape. 


7. preconscious behaviors/ habits or as in the case of some disabilities, noticeable behaviors that may be viewed as socially unacceptable although explained by a disability i.e. anti-social, terrorettes syndrome.


Observe the lifestyle and speech abilities displayed by the interviewee.



Some positions require disclosure of existing medical conditions, whereas most states have laws restricting the employers from asking questions that could lead to exposing confidential health information to prevent discrimination.  Consider the position and how critical it is before seeking reasonable exclusions based on the positions needs.  For example, putting a recovering drug addict to work at a pharmacy is not the brightest idea.  However, excluding a candidate on such logical deductions may require some legal counsel.  In most states, if the employer pays for background checks, or specific drug tests which may be allowable for certain types of jobs those activities can be requested of applicants.  However, consult the laws for your region and be sure to obtain consent from applicants when using any confidential information as apart of your recruitment strategy.  Hint:  many companies hire from inside recruitment.  Direct referrals made by your leading staff members often lead you to the most talented candidates in the community (birds of a feather flock together) and the relationships can be reviewed to learn the length and nature of the relationships which could help eliminate some of the general considerations one might have about hiring a complete stranger. 


8. Skills and Experience:


Lack of matching abilities versus capabilities or potentials (i.e. the cumulative knowledge and skill versus often less apparent aptitudes. 



Try to identify any obstacles coped with, limitations, habits, hobbies that could show desirable traits or undesirable traits to help confirm a match. 



Explore attitudes and bias if detected to learn more about any obstacles and determine what could be addressed, or tolerated.



Use specific tests for relevant knowledge and situational challenges, or stress tests to help assess ability versus potentials. 


Keep in mind compatibility changes over time along with personalities.  The average person changes careers seven times in the modern age.  Education and experience often helps people adapt to different or changing jobs. 



9 Communication Facilitators


  1. Fulfilling expectations Ė people tend to be motivated to succeed socially and personally due in part to innate self-preservation instinct, which includes a need for social exchanges. 


  2. Giving recognition or getting recognition helps reinforce behavior.


  3. Altruistic appeal for self esteem Ė helping others is a way to attain self gratification to compensate for prior losses, or manage guilt.  Often victims like assisting other victims because it provides a vehicle to share experiences, which is cathartic and it helps them gain a sense of control whereas during their own trauma, victims often lacked the ability to have control. 


  4. Supplying sympathetic understandings builds trust and empathy


  5. New experience fulfills interests.


  6. Fulfilling the need for meaning/ new associations- actions can be associated with purpose. 


  7. Facilitating catharsis- can be pleasurable.


  8. Supplying extrinsic rewards tangible and intangible.


  9. Good listening, pacing, and critical thinking on action and in action skills and the willingness to clarify and having helpful skills for what to do or not to do when communication inhibitors are presented within yourself or others, is essential where the goal is to obtain quality information. 



     Where inconsistencies are present in an interview and identified, probing can help get clarity and further details.  Probing is a tool, but it is important to balance its inherent pressure by keeping information flowing and to maintain or continue the building of trust. In some cases, probing is more effective if done later in relationships.



Reasons to Probe:


    • Reduced willingness


    • Refusals, suspected or actual fabrications


    • To distinguish unwillingness versus unable though willing


    • Detecting a smoke screen or poker face


    • Fear, guilt, pain, trauma, or reliving an experience is revealed


    • Incomplete or omission of critical information


    • Possible error in interpreting on either end of the communication


    • Noncommittal expression or unclear statements


    • Significant tone changes or tone inconsistent with information or body language


    • Ambivalence, polarization, or if a special interest is demonstrated that could be relevant.


    • To verify an important piece of information is understood or to clarify or confirm it is interpreted correctly.  To learn from differences or disagreements. 



How to Probe:


  • What do you mean?  Please explain that further.


  • Tell me more.  What do you think? 


  • Tell me anything you can remember (free association especially helpful where memory is fading)


  • Use of attentive silence to cue a responder to elaborate.


  • Summarize information and ask if the summary is accurate.


  • Ask if deductions are correct.


  • Ask direct questions and open ended questions.


  • Confront the interviewee with inconsistencies you are trying to clarify in a calm and pleasant manner.



Things to avoid and watch for during interviews;


  • False cues, i.e. to much silence (either promoting a feeling that something should be said or that they are captive)


  • Poor etiquette i.e. over empathizing. Etiquette barrier= perceived by respondent as inappropriate to the situation or to give the interviewer i.e. fear of shocking the interviewer.


  • Inner conflicts, controversial areas that could damage trust or cause resistance. Leading/ contaminating. i.e.  Cues to please the interviewer circumstances can be set up by sequence and word choice, tone, and even body language.  Such cues can result in selective reporting, or fabrication. The suggestion of the appropriate answers whether conscious or not contaminates the process.


  • Discovery is better if using free association.


  • Competing time demands


  • Ego threats to self esteem i.e. disapproval or rejection


  • Ritualistic questions that could provoke inaccurate or irrelevant responses i.e. how are you


  • Defense mechanisms i.e. avoid triggers and areas that may give rise to conflict when possible unless the goal is to observe such responses.


  • Chronological confusion, re-living traumatic experiences, (time limits- if the interview goes longer than scheduled, cooperation can turn hostile.)



Turn negatives into positives. 


     When speaking about your greatest weaknesses, state something that may be viewed also as a positive or include what your doing to improve.  For example, ďMy Spanish is weak, but Iím taking more classes.Ē  Try to be strategic about what youíre willing to divulge to your potential employers about mistakes you have made and be sure to include how you corrected the errors.  Be honest, but be selective. 



     If youíre an interviewer you will want to drill down on your interviewees whom may be coached in advance on how to navigate critical questions.  It could be helpful to use an example of actual observations of weaknesses in people you know or to list something personal about yourself as a weakness you had to overcome at some point in your life.  A part of what your looking for in this area is a candidates willingness to admit areas that need work and how self aware they actually are.  Youíre also looking for significant red flags.  For example, if someone has an addictive personality type and substance abuse history, there could be risks involved.  We all know the person that says they donít have any issues is usually the worst off.  However, part of being competitive is being diplomatic.  It is not a reasonable expectation that a candidate will give you detailed facts about their challenges and how they have overcome them or are currently dealing with them.  In fairness someone overly trusting might present other concerns such as a healthy ability to discriminate for their interest or for the interest of the employer where tact or discretion is required.  It is therefore my opinion that this item is more about seeking trends that help you understand more about the candidate.  If you can get them to list ten items on a list and five of them point to time management, you can drill down more on that to learn if there may be obstacles, if for example the position requires meeting tight deadlines.  It is to be expected that no one likes telling on themselves.  Be graceful in this area and remain objective if someone is sharing their vulnerable side.  Keep the needs of the position in mind and approach areas of concern in follow up interviews so you have time to consider how you wish to probe further, if needed.  By explaining why youíre asking about weaknesses candidates may be able to offer information that puts you at ease. 





Laws Relevant to Lines of Questioning:


     The laws surrounding questioning differ depending on the contexts and State. Some information is considered privileged, and can be confidential.   It is important to know the sources and all possible relationships to prevent contamination, rights infringement, or breaches.




Elements of Effective Interviewing



  • Knowledgeable and productive w/ research tools or processes i.e. background checks and legal limits in your State for interview type 



  • can conduct statement analysis objectively to identify relevant, irrelevant, and potentially relevant information from written, spoken and non-verbal communications.



  • stays within agreed time limits for interview



  • does not trigger defense mechanisms and/or can de-escalate people when they are angry



  • good at scheduling locations and times for best results



  • good topic control



  • familiar with gathering and organizing evidence



  • controls their own emotional and physical responses



  • proper etiquette (humor control)



  • Involve interviewee democratically where possible. 


  • maintains interest of interviewee-engaging



  • limit personal bias from observations



  • being attentive in probing areas important to respondents or the interview goals, but also be careful not to overuse probes which could damage trust.