Mel Savage Executive Coaching
The Highly Valued Leader Podcast - CAREER Planning

Episode 43 – Job Interviewing for the Interviewer and Interviewee

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Episode 43 - Job Interviewing for the Interviewer and Interviewee

Navigating job interviews can be nerve-wracking, and this episode offers a comprehensive exploration of the process, both from the perspective of interviewees and interviewers.

Sarah Wing Lima, an expert with over two decades in talent acquisition, shares her insights. You may have already met her because she was with us when we talked about

Resumes That Get You Noticed.

She is the Director of Talent Acquisition at the University of Guelph.

The episode delves into key leadership behaviors interviewees should be prepared to discuss, the concept of followership and its role in balance with leadership, behaviors to avoid during interviews, current interviewing trends, and valuable tips for interviewers seeking the right candidate.

This episode provides a holistic view of job interviewing dynamics.

If you’re looking for a specific freebie or tool mentioned in this podcast, you can visit to access additional free training tools designed to help you become a highly valued leader.

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Disclaimer: Some of the content and information mentioned in this episode might no longer be applicable. This includes references to specific links, courses, or programs. As a result, all the links mentioned will now redirect you to our current website. There, you’ll find up-to-date information, resources, and exciting new content to support your journey. We appreciate your understanding and unwavering support.

Hello there, my friends. Welcome back to the podcast. It’s so great to have you here. I appreciate you so much. Thank you for showing up week after week. Thank you for all your feedback. And for those of you who have never reached out, please do. Please reach out to me at, and let me know where you’re struggling. Let me know what you want to hear about on the podcast and we’ll make sure that we include those topics in the things that we discuss. 

For the last couple of weeks or so actually, I think it’s been more than that, maybe four or five weeks, we’ve been talking all around the job search process. And some of the things are more task-oriented, in terms of how to get your resume together and what to do with your LinkedIn profile. Today, we’re talking about interviewing. Some of the things are really more about attitudinally, how to get your mind focused on going forward in the job search process. 

If you’re someone who is embarking on a job search or thinking about going forward on a job search, then a lot of these episodes will be helpful to you. And I will link to all of them on the show notes for this podcast at

Why am I talking about job search at all? Yes, I’m a career coach. But my focus is less on helping people find jobs and more on helping people have a macro plan for where they want to take their career, for setting goals, and for reaching their goals. But a lot of the times, with my clients, when we’re putting their plans together, at some point, some of them want to start embarking on the job search process. And so I wanted to provide some information in the podcast on how to integrate that into your overall planning process. 

If you don’t have a career plan, or your career plan is really just focused on the company that you work for right now, I’m going to encourage you to start thinking about building a macro career plan for yourself. It is the best thing that you can do for yourself. And if you want my help with that, if you want to talk about it, where to get started, you can book a free strategy session with me at

Today’s episode is all about interviewing. And it’s not just your standard podcast on interviewing where you get the step-by-step process on how to get ready for an interview. A lot of people have that available. If that’s something that you’re looking for, then flip me an email because I also have that content available for you if you need it. And I’ll connect you with the resources that you need. Once again, my email is

But this podcast episode is actually more about interviewing in general, both from the perspective of the interviewer and the interviewee. And it’s really more about what to expect in the interview process, and how each of the parties in the interviewing process are actually thinking and showing up. So what’s important for the interviewer to think about and what’s important for the interviewee to think about?

We’re lucky today because we have an expert to talk to us about it and she was with us last month when we talked about resumes. This is the second part of the podcast with her. Her name is Sarah Wing Lima. She is the Director of Talent Acquisition at the University of Guelph. She has 20 years of experience in talent acquisition. She’s worked in both private and public organizations. So she’s got a really wide perspective, a really broad perspective on interviewing, resume building, talent acquisition in general. 

Today, we’re going to share the second half of my interview with her specifically around interviewing. Like I said, it’s not a step-by-step. It’s really more about the perspective of the interviewer or the interviewee. From the interviewee’s perspective, we talk about things like how to tell your story effectively. And early in the interview process, the interviewers are going to be really focused on making sure that you have the right skill sets and that you’re functionally able to do the job. 

As you move through the interview process, you certainly are going to be asked more questions, examples of your leadership behaviors, and examples of how you would handle certain situations. So it’s important that you’re prepared to discuss that and that you have really good examples at the ready and that they’re succinct. Really tight, and we’ll talk about that, and the STAR method. If you’re interested in learning about the STAR method, I will have a link in the show notes as well. 

Then from an interviewee’s perspective, still, we also talk a little bit about a few traps to avoid falling into during the interview like things that will just blow up the interview for you. So things to avoid as an interviewee. We also discussed some common and evolving interview processes that as an interviewee you want to be prepared for depending on where you’re applying, and how senior you are in your career.

But this podcast is also for the interview because I don’t know about you, but no one ever sat me down and said, here’s how you interview someone. Here are some things to think about when you’re interviewing someone. It’s the same story when you move from more of a functional job to a manager’s job where you’re not necessarily trained to be a leader so you’re figuring out how to be a leader on the job. And the other thing you don’t really learn is interviewing skills. 

You don’t learn people management skills, you don’t learn interviewing skills. A lot about stuff, you’re kind of learning as you go. And these days, it’s really incumbent on the individual to go out and seek the training that they need. I don’t know how many times I’ve had this conversation with my clients, as well. I see it all the time that we think that our companies and our bosses are responsible for our growth in our position, but they’re not. They will add value. And they will add more value the more you ask for what you want. But if you don’t know what you want, and you don’t have a plan, then they’re not going to be able to help you in the way that you really need help. If you take anything away from this, please remember that you are in charge of your own leadership development. 

If you are in a position, where you’ve just been promoted, and now you’re managing people, and you don’t know how to do that, you don’t have leadership training, you don’t know how to interview people, I would say, it’s up to you to go out and find the training, go out and access the training that you need, go out and ask for help so that you can learn the skills that you need to learn. And again, I’m not saying go out and do it yourself. You can still ask for help from your company and your boss. But at least you know you’re asking help for if you have a career plan because you have a prioritized list of strategies of things that you need to learn to be great at your job. 

Let me come back to interviewing here for a second. When we’re talking about being the interviewer, the main piece of advice that really resonated with me was getting prepared ahead of time and grounding your interview questions in the job description. I know a lot of people just say, What’s your favorite interview question? And they ask those questions, especially when you’re new, you don’t know how to strategically link the interview to the job description outside of the skill sets outside of, Hey, do you know how to do this, this, or this? 

But in terms of behaviorally, or cognitively, we don’t necessarily know what kinds of questions to ask and how to ask those questions in relationship to the job description. That for me was really great advice as an interviewer to get focused on the kinds of questions that you want to ask specifically related to the job that you are interviewing for. And the other thing that really resonated with me from an interviewer’s perspective is just making it a human-to-human conversation. 

A lot of the time as an interviewer, we get on our high horse and think we are we are the authority in this conversation. But we have to remember as the interviewer that the person who’s coming in for the interview is managing their career. They’re human beings. They’re just as important in this equation as you are as the interviewer. So if you want the best people, you have to get ready for the interview just as hard as the interviewee is getting ready. And you need to treat them like human beings. It’s a human-to-human conversation. Those were two big pieces that I took away, that really resonated with me. But there’s lots of good stuff in there. 

I also want to point out to everyone before you listen to it that I recorded this with Sara six months ago, so it was pre-COVID. So you won’t hear any COVID conversation in the interview. Obviously, things have evolved where essentially all the interviewing is happening online over Zoom, Webex, or whatever it is. I’m not sure that changes fundamentally what we’re talking about today, because a lot of what we talked about today was strategic, but it may impact things like panel interviews and having a more formalized structure over Zoom so people aren’t talking over each other and that sort of thing. That is certainly something that has evolved since Sarah and I had this conversation. 

If you want to hear any of the other podcasts on job search, go to the show notes at, and here’s my conversation with Sarah Wing Lima.

Mel Savage: Sarah, welcome back. We are so lucky to have you once again, talking to us. Guys, this is Sarah Lima. She’s from the University of Guelph. A little while back, we did a fantastic podcast, with regards to things to think about when you’re putting your resume together. And Sarah has so much great experience with this. She has been in talent acquisition for 20 years. I mean, that is an amazing experience. I mean, she’s so young, don’t get me wrong. 

That conversation went so long, and I’ll put a link to that podcast in the show notes. But that conversation was so rich that I thought, I can’t add an interview on top of that, because it’s just going to be too long. So we are having a second podcast to talk about interviewing skills. So thank you for sticking with me and doing this. I really appreciate it, Sarah. 

Sarah Wing Lima: You’re welcome. I love interviews. So I’m excited, too. 

Mel Savage: Actually, let’s start there. Why do you love interviews?

Sarah Wing Lima: In the last podcast, we talked about how recruiting is always changing and it keeps me engaged. Well, actually, the part that keeps me the most engaged is contact with our candidates and being able to see people, meet people, and learn about people. It’s just a fun discovery. It’s great. And I’ve learned, of course, like everything we do, we’re the teacher and the student. That is one classic example of how much I learned from others and am fascinated by all the different industries and jobs out there, what people do, and what their skills are. It’s just crazy. So it’s a lot of fun.

Mel Savage: Yeah, I love it, too. I love meeting people. It’s fascinating to learn about people’s backgrounds. I know interviewing can be stressful. It feels a bit threatening sometimes. It feels a bit stressful to the interviewee. It’s also stressful for the interviewer especially if you’re not always trained in that. So today, I want to make sure that we spend time talking about both aspects of it. Because people who listen to this podcast are probably in both camps at some point. They’re either interviewing or they’re being interviewed. It’s good to have the skills on both ends of it because that’s just going to make you richer overall. 

Sarah Wing Lima: Let’s start with, in terms of from the interviewer’s perspective because I know that’s where you have a ton of experience, but I’m sure you’ve experienced on both ends. From the interviewer’s perspective, what’s your approach to interviews overall? 

Mel Savage: I think it’s pretty common right now. This space is also evolving and changing very quickly. But I think right now employers are focused on structured interviews because they are deemed to be one of the more reliable methods in selecting people or predicting someone’s suitability for a position. The structured interview is also generally, at least in the environments that I’ve come from, both private and public, they’ve been focused on behavioral interviews. 

Sarah Wing Lima: So they’re really probing what somebody has done in their past because it’s based on the whole principle that past behavior dictates future performance. And I buy into that. On top of that, though, we have to be cognizant of the fact that some of this environmental context is also a factor. It’s kind of complex in that way. 

But I would generally say that we approach it from the aspect that we’re asking several questions and in the public sector, they are largely fairly big interview panels. So they can be multifold, which can be initially very intimidating, compared with the private sector, I didn’t see that. That kind of pattern is much more one-on-one or two-on-one, but certainly in the public sector. And that’s for the purposes of reducing biases and so on, that we have.

Mel Savage: Wow. I’ve never actually had to have a panel interview before. I’ve actually done phone interviews with two or three people on the phone, but a panel interview, like coming into his room of people like a movie. It must be tough. I want to dig into that a little bit, too. But before we get into that, beating the behavioral part is so important. Do you still ask questions like tell me a little bit about yourself? So it’s a warm-up question, and then get into it? Or what’s your approach to them?

Sarah Wing Lima: When I’m working in the public sector, we’re very structured because of making sure that we’re managing a process that’s fair and equitable. There’s an emphasis on that. That should be an underlying theme across any industry. But it is important that we don’t get too personal. We don’t encourage things like coffee meetings like you might find in private sector environments. So we kind of get ready to do business in those settings. But generally, I find that when we just asked somebody about what interested you in this role, why do you think you’re the best candidate? Those are usually good opening questions that are very easy to answer. 

Mel Savage: And it’s personal. So one of the things that I talk about in terms of behavioral questions, since we’re talking about that for a second, is the idea of just being really succinct, like using that STAR method that I’m sure you’re aware of, like, just being very succinct about that. And again, revisiting the job description to understand what kind of skill sets are they looking for. 

A lot of times in the job description, I find that it’s sometimes more functional than the softer leadership skill-oriented. When you’re prepping for behavioral questions, you may want to have a few functional types of things, the things that you’ve done the demonstrate the skill set. But the leadership, you have to have two or three good examples of some core leadership behaviors. What’s your thought process on that? 

Sarah Wing Lima: I would say, if you’re going to interview, what’s going to be probed are those competencies, those behavioral competencies more than those technical skills because I think your resume, and that whole first stage of people doing telephone interviews initially, that’s to establish that you meet those technical requirements. The interview time is really to learn about how you operate, what your style is, and those behavioral competencies. 

Again, like with a resume, remembering back to that podcast, it is about preparation, and making sure that you’re thinking about the job and the environment that you’re applying to and drawing because you have a lot of competencies, probably, but you’ve got to draw out the most relevant relative to that environment. So it is a little bit of that preparation, and being willing to speak about that, but giving it context in terms of examples, and how you treated that. 

So leadership style with people in leading a team, you want to have some examples that really showcase your style of leadership, and what’s important to you, what your philosophy is, while making sure that that employer you think it’s going to fit for them? I think if you take some time to really isolate those core competencies that you have, then you’d be prepared to talk about them within the context of a question. And that’s the best way to prepare.

Mel Savage: Do you have some favorite leadership competencies? I know it always depends on the level of person that you’re interviewing and I would imagine, if someone’s getting to you, I don’t really know your organization, but generally speaking, in a more private environment, if someone was kind of getting to me, it’s because they’re going to be in the more senior management capacity. I don’t know. I wouldn’t necessarily always interview the more entry-level folks, but sometimes I would, depending on the situation. But the company’s competencies I might expect would be slightly different. Is that true for you? Or do you keep a consistent?

Sarah Wing Lima: No. Absolutely at a higher level or a management level, yeah. The competencies might be kind of like communication and might be a theme, but it will be at another level. Absolutely. I would say, if I were to isolate one that comes up more and more today, it’s collaboration, but it’s really effective collaboration. Especially in a complex environment like ours, that type of cross-functional communication, collaboration, and leadership is extremely important. It’s not easy so we would probe that at a completely different level than maybe an individual contributor role, like an accountant to a leader of people, for sure.

Mel Savage: So if you’re going to be applying for say, a mid-management position. We’re throwing so many questions at you that we didn’t talk about in the pre-call, so we’re just going to go with the flow here because I’m just following you and this is so amazing. If you’re kind of mid-management to maybe early senior management, what are some of the key competencies from a leadership perspective that you would want to make sure someone had?

Sarah Wing Lima: Again, it will depend on the role, a little in the context of that particular department because even though I’m one employer, are there subcultures within that division, so there’s going to be slight variance. But I would say mid-management, is a focus on people leadership, but in particular coaching and developing your people. 

So it’s just the management of scheduling, and so on, but a real focus and demonstration of ability to grow people and to guide them and to manage issues, conflicts within the workplace, like those types of complicated people things, because we all probably share that as a manager, a leader of people, you actually spend a huge amount of your time on your people. So that skill set would be would be tremendous. Also, mid-management, I would say, I was going to say strategic sort of leadership, but maybe not as much as…

Mel Savage: What about critical thinking?

Sarah Wing Lima: Yeah, critical thinking. Critical thinking is very good. Really key. Especially as you are following the strategic direction that your organization is going and making sure that you’re navigating that collaboration comes up all the time.

Mel Savage: So people development. What’s your style? What’s your approach to growing your people? What kind of successes have you had? That sort of thing. What’s your philosophy around it and getting some examples around that? Conflict Resolution, I think is really important at that level, because that’s the beginning where you’re going to be dealing with a lot of that, and you don’t want to be piling on to it. I don’t require a mid-management level to be able to strategically plan the direction of the business, the organization, or the department. 

But the idea of critical thinking is important because it demonstrates that you’re able to think beyond what’s happening at the moment and anticipate potential issues. And if you have that ability to anticipate and project forward, then you’re going to be able to become a more strategic thinker for the organization. 

Sarah Wing Lima: Yeah, I agree. Absolutely. Critical thinking is such a good skill and competency. There’s a term out there now called followership. If you’re not at that level where you’re designing that strategic direction for the unit, there is, I think a skill that I’ve recently spoken with, with my colleague, Linda about, which is followership. And that is that sometimes, you just have to figure out a way to go with the direction that your leaders are taking and the unit and you have to support that, even if it doesn’t quite match really where you’re coming from. 

And we see that come into conflict when maybe say, there’s a new VP or a senior leader coming in and they’re going a certain direction that is a bit weird for you, but you need to demonstrate that followership. So that’s one that’s quite interesting. Another one that I think at all levels is extremely important is relationship-building.

Mel Savage: Before we get into relationships, can we just talk about followership for a second? I’m writing relationship-building down so we don’t miss it and come back to it. It’s a balance because again, not having been in corporate for a couple of years, I do read a lot about it, but functionally, as a leader, I want the people on my team to give me their opinion because no one leader has the full perspective. If I’m kind of driving a switch in a certain direction where other people on my team can either see other ways to go, or some roadblocks or whatever, share it with me. 

But at the end of the day, once the decision is made,  now as a leader, so this is for the managers out there, as a leader, it’s important to listen, because you’re just like, Don’t bug me with this. I don’t want to hear about it. I already made this decision. That’s not great leadership. So if you’re listening, that’s great. And then as the employee or as the report, let’s say, once the leader has listened to you, if they can’t go with your direction, for whatever reason they decide not to, then get on board the train. Make it the best possible solution. 

Sarah Wing Lima: Yeah, it’s a really important distinction, because absolutely, you do not want to be mute. You need to, as an employee, especially at that mid-level, you are contributors. You are contributing to that strategic direction, and your voice should be heard 100%. But exactly, like you said, once that strategic direction is chosen, and you’re locked in and you’re going, then you adapt and support. 

If it’s not quite aligned with your thinking, you just have to make a decision, basically. You’re either on or you’re off. And that’s a personal decision. If bigger issues like ethics and morals, that kind of stuff come in, that’s totally different. But generally, if you’ve contributed to an idea and you’re going in that direction, then you demonstrate that.

Mel Savage: I love followership as a terminology. I’ve always just called it being a team player. But I think the idea of followership and calling it out and bringing it out is a great way to look at it because it really helps understand where that person sits with that. I want to come back to relationship-building. I think that’s another big one, especially mid-management when you’re starting to build relationships across organizations, across the departments, building your peer relationships up and down through the organization. What are you looking for when you think about relationship-building?

Sarah Wing Lima: It’s definitely positive relationship-building. You are not working in isolation, you work as a team, as a unit, but outside of your silo. It’s not just working within your unit, it’s branching inside of that and finding those key relationships. It’s leveraging those relationships to be strategic about it. So build a relationship in another unit that you’re kind of codependent on. Or there’s some sort of interdependency, not codependent. But there’s an interdependency and you nurture that relationship. It’s a bit strategic, but it also, generally is a positive interaction, your interactions with people.

Mel Savage: I agree with everything that you just said. And I would add to it and say, I hesitate to use the word networking because there’s all this douchey stuff that comes with the word networking. But networking, in my mind, is helping others, and then they help you back. It’s not always a one-for-one. But it’s really networking is about helping other people. 

First and foremost, being of service to others. And I think when you’re relationship building within an organization, or within a company, or university, or whatever it is, it’s not always about going out and having a drink and what can you do for me sort of thing, it’s about how can you be there as part of a team, helping others, that’s how you build relationships. And when you put it out there and you help people get to where they need to go and achieve their goals, they’re going to be helping you as well. I think that’s a that’s a key part. People always think relationship building is about building friendships, and we just could be part of it, but it’s not the main part of it.

Sarah Wing Lima: Yeah, if you go to networking, that’s where you are reminded that there needs to be a two-way exchange. It’s not all about you. It’s not to serve you, it’s actually a mutual benefit that that relationship or that networking is formed on and based on.

Mel Savage: Don’t forget to help others. That’s really what we’re here for. That’s what people with any organization are going to appreciate as well and it’s going to help you build strong relationships down the line. Let’s get back to the actual interviewing process. We’re talking about competencies that you’re exploring. It’s a long way around. But I think that was really good because people need to understand some of the things that they need to prepare for when they’re going into an interview and they’re thinking about leadership competencies. What are the stories? What are the examples that you want to show and share in that STAR method? 

For those of you who don’t know what the STAR method is, I will put a little attachment to this so you can see it’s really just a very succinct way of sharing a story. It’s Situation-Task-Action-Result, essentially. And that’s the framing of how you quickly and succinctly tell the story because you don’t want to spend 20 minutes giving one example because there are lots to get through in the interview. The next question is what does someone do in an interview that completely blows it for you? We could talk about completely blowing it and maybe nailing it, but let’s talk about if someone does this thing, it just blows it up for you. Is there something like that?

Sarah Wing Lima: Tension for me is created when people don’t answer the question. They have their agenda and so they’re not listening. Just so people are aware of that and by default, creating a dynamic in that interview that makes them uncomfortable. I believe that if we can get the candidates to feel at ease, they’re going to perform really well. We’re going to see the best of them. So you have to approach it the same way as the candidate. You’ve got to really listen to the question and have a conversation, answer, and pick up on the things that are going on in the room. 

If people volunteer, little sidebar notes that are actually very relevant to how you’re going to answer a question. Integrate that. Listen to the questions and answer them. I think the other thing you kind of alluded to is, it’s going on and on and on, and on and on. So really, be succinct. You will lose your people. You will lose those people listening. Keep in mind, that they’re probably doing six interviews that day so you’ve got to keep it succinct. 

And then I’d say, the other disappointment is when somebody has really over-embellished their resume and then they come in an interview, and there’s a gap. It’s not great. It doesn’t reflect well on you at all. So it kind of goes back to the honesty in your application. I think we’re seeing more and more embellishments, supposedly out there. Just stay authentic. Be truthful.

Mel Savage: Yeah. I think that’s really important, too. And I like what you said at the beginning about answering the question. Just stay succinct and answer the question. I watch way too much news, CNN, Fox, or whatever right now. And nobody answers any questions.

Sarah Wing Lima: Yeah, they’ve got to get those points across.

Mel Savage: That’s right. And that’s not like that. No, there’s no need for a spin in an interview. Stay focused.

Sarah Wing Lima: Listening, especially at the management level is the most important thing. So you will get docked tremendously if you’re not demonstrating that you can listen.

Mel Savage: Yeah, I love that. Another great leadership competency, part of it is communication, but communication is so huge. Communication encompasses opening your mouth or not opening your mouth. It’s everything. So listening is such a big one. And the second level, like listening to what’s not being said, is a skill that’s really important as well. 

Let’s talk a little bit about the interview errs for a second. There are a lot of people out there who have to interview people, and they’re not trained. I think, especially in the private sector, as managers in general, you get promoted because you’re really great at executing. And then you get into this management positioning, you have to do all of these things, like interview people and manage people and all this stuff, and you’re not always trained to do it. 

I know when I first became a manager, I had an interview with someone. I was just looking online and like, I need some training, I need to figure out how to do this. What are the top questions I should be asking? I don’t know. What are some advice you can give to new managers when they’re thinking about when they have to start interviewing?

Sarah Wing Lima: Well, a couple of things. I would say, I see and I hear from people I highly respect actually, as leaders that they just want to have a coffee chat. As much as I think that that is a valuable dialogue with a potential candidate, especially again, at that senior level, it is not and should not be the first stage for two reasons. I think that from a candidate’s experience, they need a proper opportunity and platform to share their background. If you’re going to invite them to invest in your process, then pay them the respect that this is a serious decision, and you’re taking it seriously. 

And you would like to give them the opportunity to really share their background because this is as much their decision as it is yours. They’re making a decision about their career. They need time to understand what you’re looking for, get a feel for the operation, etc. So I encourage a structured interview, initially. I think those coffee chats are great, but at a later stage, and you’ve narrowed it down to your final two, or one for that matter. Avoid that, and really focus on the structured interview. 

Now to form a structured interview though, I also find that managers just go and pick their favorite questions, and they’re not anchored on anything. So you might have some wowser questions out there that are really good. But if they’re not related and anchored on some of those real competencies that are critical to the success of this position, you’re wasting your time. So if you don’t like designing interviews, go to the people who do and have a quick coffee chat with them for 20 minutes, and they will produce some great questions for you that you can use. So again, leverage the people who are doing this full-time so that you can actually really deliver some good questions.

Mel Savage: I love that. Such a good advice. One, anchor it in the job description. If they took the time to anchor their resume to the job description, you can take the time to anchor your interview in the job description. And the second one is asking for help. I was like this is a new manager. I don’t want to show my weakness, and I don’t know how to interview people, I’m going to figure this out. That’s not effective for anyone, and you’re going to pay for it later because you’re not going to find the best people or hire the best people. 

So definitely get the help that you need. There are so many great resources out there, but there are probably people in your organization who are going to be willing to help you. It’s so important.

Sarah Wing Lima: The last thing, Mel, that I might say is that recognize that we all have biases. And they’re pretty strong. And I think do take the steps that you need to mitigate or reduce that a little bit. Because when you feed into those biases, you risk not getting the right person for the job, and just having to re-recruit again in a year. And as everyone knows, it’s a huge time sucker. 

Mel Savage: Not just the recruitment, but the training of the person and finding out that they weren’t right, and you’re accountable for these people’s lives as well. It’s not just them. So you need to think that through. But that’s a great segue. We’re so simpatico because my next tangent, what I was going to talk about here was what attitudinally. So structure, you’re getting functionally ready for this grounding your structure in the job description, etc. Adding to attitudinally, you just talked about not being biased, but is there any other advice you can give?

Sarah Wing Lima: As I’m coaching younger recruiters doing consultations with senior executives, just treat it as a conversation. The same thing with managers, when interviewing candidates, this needs to be a dialogue. It needs to be a two-way conversation. Again, they’re evaluating us, we’re evaluating them. We’ve got to really respect the fact that they’re making a career choice. And there’s a lot of thinking in that. 

An open conversation and something that puts a candidate at ease, you are going to see the best of that person. And so the more that you can just treat it casually, but still have your plan but treat it like a conversation, I think you’re actually going to just get more from the time when you do that. Just see things from their shoes as well.

Mel Savage: Yeah, you’re just human beings having a conversation. I mean, that’s the most important. That’s what it’s going to be like, on a day-to-day basis, anyway, when you’re working with them, so make it as realistic as you can make it in that conversation. We’ll move towards wrapping this up. You mentioned at the beginning that again, interviewing is changing, and the process is changing. What are the trends that you’re seeing when it comes to interviewing in the marketplace?

Sarah Wing Lima: I’m seeing that interview on its own, although it’s one of the more reliable ways to assess somebody’s potential success in a position. I think there’s more emergence of other methods, too. The employers that I have been with, still do the reference check. I find the reference-checking process very important. Where I’m seeing it evolve is that maybe it’s incorporating other stages and phases like other pieces. There might be a practical assessment, there might be a review of a portfolio, or there might be an actual psychometric assessment. 

So I think we’re going to see a shift towards bringing a little bit more data and scientific evidence into the process over time. I just read an article in Harvard Business Review about Goldman Sachs doing video interviews for their student recruitment program. So with the digital world and with all kinds of new tools coming into the space, I think we just might see a little bit more diversification of the selection process. So not solely based on the interview, but more a blend of a bunch of different approaches and tactics. 

Mel Savage: That’ll be interesting to dive into. I’m going to start learning about that as well because I’m interested in knowing how the psych assessments especially add value to the process value, like add value, and also detract from the process. And then, again, I have seen in the private sector, you do these psych assessments, you take the time, maybe even a practical project of some kind, especially a senior management’s. 

At the end of the day, they just pick the person that they like, anyway. So I don’t know. I think integrating those things into the process effectively and consistently is going to be really important. 

Sarah Wing Lima: Definitely. I think there’s going to be more emphasis on the true validity of those methods and of those tools and ensure that they’re scientifically valid. So we’re not just doing personality testing, but we’re blending it with cognitive and so on so that it’s truly more valid and fair. Those take a lot of the unconscious bias out, too in a lot of cases. So I think we’re certainly seeing a movement toward anything that does that because the process is so riddled with bias. So I think we’ll see a shift toward anything that reduces that as much as possible.

Mel Savage: Thank you so much. Oh, my God, you’re such a wealth of information. Like I said, in my experience, people don’t stay in necessarily just in talent acquisition for as long as you have. I know that you’ve done such a diverse amount of work in that space. But they move to other parts of HR, like training, learning, and development, or even the politics of HR or dealing with units or anything. There’s lots of stuff that you can do in HR. It’s a really broad field. But to be able to speak to someone like you, who has so much experience in talent acquisition is a real treat. So thank you so much. 

Sarah Wing Lima: Oh, well, thank you. Thanks. It was fun. Thanks, Mel. 

Huge thanks to Sara. Remember, there are two podcasts from Sarah. One on resumes that I will link to in the show notes and of course, this one on interviews, and you can get all the links that we talked about in the podcast at So all of these podcasts since the beginning of July, really, so all of these job search-oriented podcasts are really part of executing against your overall career plan, which is where I specialize.

I work with people to help them define their career goals in relationship to their values, build out their plans, and then work with them on their mindset so that they can execute the plan. So building that execution plan out and then sticking with them as they execute the plan. That’s a lot of the time when we get stuck. It’s not really about picking the goals and building the plan. It’s actually actioning the plan where we get stuck, where we really need to do the mindset work. 

I would say to you that if you’re someone who doesn’t have a career plan, you’re really leaving yourself exposed.  Because a lot of the time, we don’t have a career plan because like I said before, we think our bosses or a company is going to take care of us. But if you wake up one day and go, Hmm, maybe they’re not taking care of me like I thought they were going to take care of me. 

All of a sudden, you don’t have any other options. All your eggs were in that basket. And so you’re leaving yourself exposed by not planting seeds in other areas, not having a clear plan directionally for where you want to go. You’re not being purposeful about what you’re trying to achieve, and when you’re not being purposeful, you’re essentially, what I call leaving success on the table.

If any of you are in business, we talked about leaving money on the table. You’re leaving success on the table when you’re not being purposeful about what you’re trying to achieve with your career plan. So if you don’t have one, that’s all about you not about your company. Your company is only one part of your career plan. Then feel free to set up a free strategy session with me at It is the best thing that you can do for yourself and for your career. 

That’s all I have to say for this week. Have a great week, everyone. Bye for now.



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Mel Savage

I have 20+ years working as a leader in the corporate world. I know what you need to do. And I combine that with four years of training as a cognitive behavioral coach. I know how to help you naturally think like the leader you want to be.
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