Are you or your interviewers ever late to interviews? Do you rush through them, or fail to answer questions about your company culture or job duties? Do you get off track answering questions, or ask questions that elicit strange responses?
Having too much to do and too few hours in a day is a problem everyone can relate to, and there’s pretty much never a good time to conduct back-to-back interviews all day long. But it creates a terrible impression when your interviewers are late, untrained, or seem uninterested in the candidate. Look at it this way: What would you think of applicants who showed up late to their own interviews, asked silly questions or were unprepared to talk about their skills and accomplishments? Probably not too highly, because you assume that lack of preparation for an interview indicates that their work is sloppy, inaccurate and disorganized, and you wouldn’t be wrong. Your candidates assume the same thing about your company when interviewers aren’t trained to conduct efficient interviews.
Although job applicants may see this as malice on the part of your interviewers, it’s more likely that they aren’t trained to interview people or have never performed the job themselves. In addition to making a bad impression, you also risk hiring the wrong people (and accidentally rejecting the right people) because your interviewers don’t know the best way to get to the heart of an employee’s skills and present the job and the company in the best light. Most untrained interviewers end up relying on unstructured interviews because they encourage a more conversational style, but they’re not a good way to assess candidates’ strengths because they’re based more on individual interviewers’ styles and preferences than data.
Here are a couple things interviewer training can help your business make a great first impression and hire the right people:
- Ask the right questions. If you Google “silly interview questions,” you’ll find dozens of accounts of interviews where the applicant was asked how long it would take to wash all the windows on the Empire State Building or how many golf balls it would take to fill the conference room. Many people justify asking this type of question because they think it gives them insight into the candidates’ critical thinking skills. Mostly it’s just confusing. People expect questions about their skills, how they would solve on-the-job problems and to describe a situation where they performed a key part of the job. You might be missing out on great employees because candidates are momentarily thrown off-guard by weird questions and end up seeming unprepared. Thanks to the popularity of cognitive assessments, many job applicants also expect to have to prove they have the required math and writing knowledge. Instead of asking how they would solve a problem that is not relevant to the job, ask them how they would solve a problem that is relevant and frequently occurs. Their answer will tell you how well they understand the job and how they deal with unknowns and difficult situations.
- Define the job. Don’t let your interviewers assume candidates have a solid idea of what the job is, even if you have written realistic and accurate job descriptions. The best thing you can do is be honest with candidates about what is expected of employees in this role. This allows them to self-select out if they realize they aren’t a good fit for the job, and it helps reduce attrition by ensuring you are hiring candidates who are familiar with the job requirements.
- Verify the truth. Identifying people who lie or exaggerate is hard if you aren’t looking to verify information, but unfortunately candidates do exaggerate the extent of their experience or their role in projects. Interviewers should ask about the details – if a candidate says they performed a particular job, ask them to explain how they completed a certain task or dealt with a problem. This also gives your interviewers a chance to decide whether a candidate’s specific experiences match up with the experiences necessary for the job.
- Distinguish a superior from a poor performer. One common problem with hiring in high volume is that interviewers must conduct many interviews over the course of a day. On one hand, when an average candidate follows three poor candidates, the average candidate looks much better in comparison, but may not actually meet the objective standards for hiring. On the other hand, when an average candidate who should make the cut follows three great candidates, untrained interviewers may penalize him or her unnecessarily.
A successful interview is one that helps you make the right decision about a candidate and helps the candidate make the right decision about you. The expertise with which your company conducts interviews tells the candidate whether they want to work for you and how your company will treat them as an employee.
Topics: Better Interviewing