Hiring 6 min

Interview Best Practices: How We Train Hiring Managers

August 30, 2016

Businesses do more hiring today than ever before. When looking for new employees, many companies hold multiple rounds of interviews, which may include phone or video interviews as well as in-person meetings. As the applicant pool narrows, businesses often rely on hiring managers to do late-round interviewing.

Hiring a new employee produces a ripple effect that can impact everything from company culture to the bottom line. Final interviews are your company’s last chance to see if a candidate is a good fit for the position and if those ripples will be what you’re looking for. With such an important responsibility, it’s in your organization’s best interest to invest in interview training for managers.

Hiring is a complex process. It involves respecting legal protocol (like knowing what can legally be asked in an interview), understanding and utilizing the most effective interviewing methods, and providing an excellent candidate experience. Understanding interview best practices for hiring managers and, more importantly, training your managers to use those best practices will help your entire organization as you hire more high-quality candidates faster.

Cover Legal Requirements: What Can Legally Be Asked in An Interview

Most hiring managers have enough common sense not to include, “What’s your religion?” or “How many kids do you have?” on their list of interview questions, but we cover all the legal do’s and don’ts surrounding the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s protected classes, just in case. We want them to be confident they can conduct a bold, insightful interview without making any missteps on behalf of the company. When you know you’re doing it right, there’s no need to be timid. Instead of providing a list of appropriate questions, we train hiring managers on a couple of areas they should assess in interviews:

  • Job aptitude: Whether or not the candidate can do the job is the most important thing for our hiring managers to assess. Some simply ask what experiences the candidate has had at other companies. Some choose to use reasonable skills assessments to get a good sense of the candidate’s skills. Others ask for a preview of what the candidate might do during their first days on the job.
  • Culture fit: We make it clear that culture fit doesn’t mean hiring someone who matches your department’s personality profile, or disqualifying those who don’t. (“Well, everyone else on the team likes soccer, and she isn’t a fan, so she’s not a culture fit.”) Instead, culture fit means finding a candidate who exhibits the company’s values and who can fill a void in the team.

Rather than following a script, we want our hiring managers to have a natural conversation with candidates covering appropriate subjects. Ideally, that will give them the information they need to know in order to make a good hiring decision.

Use Hiring Methods That Actually Work

One of our recruiting team’s favorite books is Who: The ‘A’ Method for Hiring, by Geoff Smart and Randy Street. In the book are ten “voodoo” hiring methods—common hiring methods that are actually ineffective at determining whether a candidate will be a great fit. A few examples:

  • The Art Critic: Art critic interviewers are confident they can tell a great hire quickly based on their gut instinct. But, as Smart and Street wrote, “Forgers can pass off fake paintings as real ones to the time-pressed buyer, and people who want a job badly enough can fake an interview if it only lasts a few minutes.”
  • The Prosecutor: These interviewers try to trip interviewees up and ask tricky questions—“Why is a manhole round?” or “How did the markets do yesterday?”—which are really just trivia. “In the end,” the authors offer, “trick questions might land you the most knowledgeable candidate, and maybe even someone who can beat a Russian chess master, but knowledge and ability to do the job are not the same thing.”
  • The Trickster: Some interviewers love using gimmicks to test candidates. Smart and Street use the example of leaving a wad of paper on the ground to see if the candidate will clean it up. However, this test doesn’t determine ability to do the job and really isn’t a great test of character either.

By making hiring managers aware of these pitfalls, we help them rely instead on sound interviewing techniques that will actually help them select a great candidate. You can read a quick overview of the ten voodoo hiring methods by Greenhouse or, better yet, buy the book and read the entire thing.

Creating a Consistent (and Excellent) Candidate Experience

Providing a consistently excellent experience for candidates is vital to our employer brand, and our hiring managers carry much of the responsibility for that experience. To help create a consistent experience, we outline:

  • Steps: Different positions require different steps within the hiring process. At BambooHR, for instance, jobs with a higher volume of applicants might require participation in a video interview. Some have assessments, some have three levels of interviews, while others only have two. However, it’s important to note that while interview processes change depending on the position, each candidate for that position goes through the same process. There are also some steps, like a personal contact or a tour of the office, that we make sure consistently happen.
  • Timelines: Time to hire is a killer in hot markets. If hiring managers drag their feet, the best applicants might decline to continue. It might be another company courting them, or they might simply get tired of waiting to hear back. We work with our hiring managers to establish appropriate timelines, ensure that they are communicating those timelines to applicants, and help them move the process along as efficiently as possible.
  • Experience: It makes us proud when applicants report having a great experience, even if they aren’t offered the job. Providing excellent experiences for everyone we interact with is the right thing to do, but it also helps us in continued recruiting efforts. With these principles in mind, we train our hiring managers to establish personal, positive relationships with all applicants and to be very thoughtful at every touchpoint.

By making sure all managers are on the same page when it comes to interview steps, timelines, and providing a positive experience, we increase the chances that candidates will come away with a positive image of our organization and the brand in general. We want them to enjoy the time they spend with us so much that they refer their friends or re-apply in the future.

Taking the time upfront to train hiring managers on how to find and hire employees has allowed our recruiting team to delegate parts of the interview process, leaving more time for strategic initiatives, sourcing, and initial screening. Since our hiring managers know legal boundaries, stick to effective interview methods, and understand how to provide an excellent experience, they’re confident in their ability to select the best candidates for their teams.

Extra Tip:

To help make your interview candidates more comfortable send an email to clear up this common concern for interviewees, “what should I wear to a job interview?

HR insights delivered to your inbox.

Get caught up every month on all things HR. Don't worry, we promise we won't spam you.

Guest Blogger