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How To Prepare Your Hiring Team For Effective Interviews


When it comes to interviews, it’s just as important for your hiring team to be able to evaluate candidates properly and promote their employer brand as it is for the candidate to research the company and how their skill set matches the requirements for the role.

Good preparation takes time but not only will you be able to evaluate candidates more effectively, but you’ll also create a positive candidate experience and hopefully win over the star candidate you decide to hire. It’s important to remember that the candidate might decide not to accept the offer if their experience of interviewing with your company is negative.

Here’s how you can prepare your hiring team:

Choose the right interview team

To set yourself up for success, it’s important to choose the right interview team. Who else needs to be involved apart from the hiring manager and HR? It’s a good idea to pick a few stakeholders depending on the seniority of the role. In most companies, I’ve seen 3 to 6 interviews per position, but I’ve also heard of candidates meeting with up to 15 interviewers in a process, which is overkill!


Train the hiring team on interviewing skills

Even experienced hiring managers can benefit from interview training. While they most likely know how to build rapport with candidates, not all managers are aware of how to avoid unconscious hiring biases, how to use structured interviews effectively and how to avoid cliche (e.g. what’s your biggest weakness?) or illegal interview questions (questions related to national origin, race, religion, age, marital/pregnancy status, disability, sexual orientation or gender identity).

I still remember the horror on the candidate’s face when an interviewer asked her how old she was. It was an interviewer with lots of experience and really should have known better.

It’s advisable to train the team on the hiring process in your company and also on how they approach interviewing. Together, you can prepare an interview strategy that could include appropriate questions to ask specifically to the job description as well as focus areas for each interviewer. You might want to consider giving them an interview preparation checklist e.g.

  • Can I talk about the company’s strategy, structure and mission?

  • Can I talk about my team’s projects, direction and goals?

  • Have I read the candidate’s resume and prepared my questions?

  • Do I know what the must-have vs desirable skills on the job description are?

  • Have I coordinated with my team so we all don’t ask the same questions?

  • Do I know the next steps in the hiring process?

  • Can I answer questions about benefits, perks and career progression?

Plan your time and agenda

Ideally, you want to clear your schedule at least 15 minutes before and after each interview, so that you don’t keep candidates waiting while you’re finishing a meeting. Give them time and full attention. Also, prepare even just a rough agenda for the interview - completely unstructured and improvised interviews aren’t very effective. Decide how you’ll open the discussion, how you’ll introduce yourself, and which questions will determine if the candidate has the skills and qualities needed to do the job well.

It’s important for the hiring manager to brief other interviewers - in my previous recruitment jobs I’d sometimes speak to the candidates after their interviews and even though they had 3 interviews, they felt it was like the same interview done 3 times. The reason for that was that the interviewers didn’t agree in advance what the focus area for each interview should be and they were all asking the same questions. This is a waste of your and the candidate’s time and doesn’t create the best impression of your recruitment process.

Here is an example of areas of focus for the interview:

Recruiter:

  • Explain the role and check the candidate has the necessary experience to do the role

  • Big picture - is the candidate a good cultural fit?

  • Company specifics - benefits, hiring process etc.

Hiring Manager

  • Explain the role – what’s the team like, how the performance is measured and what you’d expect the candidate to achieve.

  • Team/Job fit – Can the candidate do the job? Will they be a good team fit?

Team members

  • Team fit - can we work with this person? How can they enhance our team?

Executives

  • Sell to the candidate - where is the company going and how the candidate can contribute to that

  • Big picture - are they a good cultural and team fit?

For a specific role, you can have 3 interviewers focusing on different areas e.g. one on the technical skills; another on stakeholder management and influencing skills & the final interviewer on analytical and problem-solving skills.

As an interviewer, avoid asking for information the candidates have already provided (e.g. during their application) to avoid appearing unprepared and really take time to read the candidate’s application and make notes of the key points related to their experience. Decide if there is anything in particular you’d like to explore during the interview and if relevant, ask for some work samples which can be used to drive the discussion on their skills.

It’s also essential to make some notes on each candidate so you can then provide interview feedback to your recruiters. Don’t think you’ll remember 3 days later - you won’t, especially if you’re interviewing several people.

Be prepared to answer questions and sell the company

As much as you’re evaluating the candidates, the candidates are trying to assess whether your company is a good place for them to work.

The best candidates will have prepared questions for you and you should ensure you can talk to them about the company’s strategy and culture, your team’s projects, how the company keeps the employees happy and motivated, what the main challenges of the role are and how the role fits into the wider organisational objectives.

You also need to be crystal clear about why this is a great opportunity for someone. I’ve encountered so many hiring managers who can’t answer the question “Why should a top performer working for a competitor want to work for you?” Make sure you can answer these questions with specific examples. Also, listen to what the candidate says they are looking for in their next job to personalise your pitch.

A well-prepared interview team will result in an excellent candidate experience, will give you a more complete view of all the candidates and will hopefully result in the next great hire for your team.

Margaret Buj

Margaret Buj is an experienced recruiter and interview coach who specialises in helping professionals get hired, promoted and paid more.

She has 15 years of experience recruiting for global technology and eCommerce companies across Europe & the US, and in the last 14 years, she's successfully coached over a thousand people to get the jobs and promotions they wanted.

Recognised as one of the Top Career Influencers to Follow in 2019 , and with an award-winning blog, she's spoken at career events & conferences and has done training sessions or workshops in London, Monaco, Athens & Saudi Arabia. Find out more and get her free interview resources at https://interview-coach.co.uk

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