Quick, who is your favorite interviewer? What do you like about them? Is it Mike Wallace? Larry King? How about Barbara Walters? Perhaps you are a fan of Mixergy’s Andrew Warner? FP&A professionals will never reach the pinnacle of success these interviewers have achieved, or can they?
The Sawatsky Method
John Sawatsky is a former Canadian journalist, and he now teaches those in his profession how to interview.
What if you could invite Mr. Sawatsky to your office to teach your FP&A peers on how to interview better? Would you participate? What questions would you have for him?
If such a training session were to take place, I’m sure Sawatsky would teach your team the following:
- Keep questions short (which he calls lean)
- Avoid charged words
- Build rapport with the person being interviewed
- Ask open-ended questions, not yes-no questions
- Ask neutral questions (the opposite is adding values in the question)
- Probe tough issues
- Ask questions as opposed to making statements
- Leave comments out of questions
Some of Sawatsky’s principles do not apply to FP&A interviews. For instance, he says the interviewer’s role is to get, not to give. The person being interviewed is the one doing the giving. Accordingly, he states the interview is not supposed to be a conversation. But it is a conversation when an FP&A professional is interviewing someone more senior than him or her.
I have a broadcast journalism background, something I don’t like to talk about. Still, his suggestions are spot on and simple.
So let me add one more suggestion. When you finish an interview, play it back in your head. Did you follow the principles above? Did you get what you wanted? More importantly, did you find some hidden pearls?
Will John Sawatsky Ever Write a Book?
When I first learned about John Sawatsky, I jumped over to Amazon to see if he had written a book on interviewing. No such luck–I would have bought it instantly.
Instead, I found him on LinkedIn and suggested that he write a book. Want to see what he wrote back?
So how cool is that? I’m sure friends, family, peers, and students will be his first customers. I won’t be far behind.
Sources and References
Curious and still want to learn more about the Sawatsky interviewing method? Here are some additional sources.
43 Folders – Interviewing with “The Sawatsky Method”
ESPN Front Row – Interview Coach John Sawatsky Teaches ESPN’s Top Talent
Interview by Susan Paterno – The Question Man
Mobile Video DIY – The Anatomy of The Question: The Wisdom of John Sawatsky
MicroCapClub – The Art of Interviewing Management