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Are you an Interviewing Mouse or an Interviewing Dragon?

15 September 2020

Are you an Interviewing Mouse or an Interviewing Dragon?

A look at different interviewing styles and how to get the very best out of your applicants.

I’m sure we will all have come across many different styles over the years. Some good, some frankly appalling. We all have our own style, and our own faults. The secret is to know what our weaknesses are and to keep them at the front of our mind when we are interviewing. Here’s an upfront confession – I talk too much when interviewing. At least I recognise it and, hopefully, am able to compensate. None of us are perfect at interviewing. We can’t be, if only because every candidate is different.

So, what sort of interviewer are YOU?

The Mouse. Quiet and deferential. The interviewer hardly says a word and the candidate struggles to get a word out of them. This is probably the rarest group. The fact that the individual is interviewing will suggest they are in a more senior role and therefore less likely to demonstrate ‘mousey’ traits. The downside of the Mouse is that the candidate will feel they need to run the meeting. Net result – the candidate will have a poor impression of a weak company.

The Talker. That’ll be me then! The Talker will normally be over friendly and keen to show their company, and in some cases themselves, in a favourable light. The Talker wants to ‘sell’ the job to the candidate rather than have the candidate sell themselves. Net result – the interviewer will, in the worst case, have absolutely no clue about what the candidate is like and what they can do. Two ears and one mouth – use them in that proportion.

The Smart Ass. The Smart Ass enjoys telling their mates in the pub about the ‘real stinker’ questions they asked at interview. Most have been looked up online and will include things like – ‘Would you go and switch that kettle off please’. When there is no kettle. Or a real favourite – ‘Sell me this pen’. Pathetic. Best answer ever is – ‘No thanks, I’ll just keep it’. Pop it in your pocket and watch their face! Net result – the candidate thinks the interviewer is a Smart Ass.

The Cliché. We recognise this one from the lame questions. Here we go – ‘Why should I give you this job? – What would you consider to be your biggest strength/weakness? – Where do you want to be in five years time? Recognise them? Of course you do! Net result – pointless interview with the candidate breathing a huge sigh of relief having been asked all the stock questions.

The Technician. Candidate enters the room and The Technician starts bombarding them with technical questions designed to show how much better the interviewer is as a technician. Net result – The interviewer or the candidate are left feeling inadequate and hating the other one. One or the other is a show off.

Your Best Mate. A bit like The Talker, only worse. Your Best Mate will skip straight to the Interests Section of the CV and spend 40 minutes talking football/netball/bel- ringing before realising that the next candidate is staring in through the window. Net result – The Interviewer has a new best mate that they will never see again.

The Dragon. The interviewer who thinks they are Claude Littner from ‘The Apprentice’. The Dragon will have scoured the CV for any sign of potential ‘over-elaboration’ and will attack it mercilessly. Net result – The Interviewer feels smug as they have spent the entire meeting uncovering an exaggeration. Get over it. Every CV, including your own, will have ‘big up’ statements that Claude would be able to exploit. Net result – The Interviewer dismisses the candidate as dishonest and a good one can be lost.

The Bully. Sadly, there are a lot of bullying interviewers around. The Bully sees the interview as a contest across all the above criteria. Any and every opportunity will be taken to be aggressive with the candidate and belittle them. The Bully thinks they are a ‘tough’ interviewer and only the best candidate will survive. Net result – they will be seen as a bully and any self-respecting candidate will run a mile. The Bully usually justifies their actions by saying they want to bring the best out of the candidate. The result is exactly the opposite.

Clearly the styles have been exaggerated but most of us will see something of ourselves in there. Often the approach one takes will depend on preconceptions. If we like the CV and feel that this our ideal candidate we will lean towards the softer styles. If the candidate has been chosen by someone else and we don’t rate them, the Dragon will come out to play.


  • Always try to be even handed and objective when interviewing.
  • Try not to have a favourite before you start. Hard one!
  • Give yourself plenty of time for the interview and leave at least 15 minutes for ‘head clearance’ between meetings. If you have to spread it over a few days, that’s fine.
  • Know your personal style preference and rein it in.
  • You are not a professional interviewer.
  • The candidate will be nervous, no matter how they look. They want this job.
  • They won’t be listening to what you are saying for the first 5-7 minutes. They will be taking in their surroundings. Don’t give them any important information or ask difficult questions until you have them settled.
  • You have a role to fill. You need the best person available to do the job because, ultimately, they will make you look good. So, do all you can to bring out the best in them.
  • Of course the best possible way to be objective is to work with a company like Badger Associates and have us do the interviewing while you sit in. Completely objective and even handed. The best way to give yourself the best chance to get the right person on board. No need to use us for the recruitment process – just the interviewing.