Hiring is hard. What do you ask your candidates? Do you perhaps give them a test? Ask about their experience, or pose theoretical situations to examine their thought processes? These decisions are hard enough for recruiters to make, let alone for an entire team to align on.
While there’s no perfect formula for finding a star candidate, everyone needs to be on board with interviewing best practices. The easiest way to accomplish that cohesiveness is creating a boot camp for your managers (and anyone who interviews candidates) to teach proper technique and legal dos and don’ts. Here are four steps to get you started.
1. Structure a better team interview
Before you teach your employees anything about interviewing, make sure that you’re structuring interviews properly.
It should not be up to individual interviewers to dig up candidate details and whip up a list of questions. If there are multiple team members interviewing the same candidate, it’s better if the recruitment team provides basic materials and direction to each interviewer. This way you will avoid redundancy, and everyone can focus on a different aspect of the candidate’s experience.
For example, you might have three people interview a potential Graphic Designer, but a managing Art Director and peer Front-End Developer should ask different questions relevant to their own areas of work and how they’ll interact with the candidate. This way, they’ll avoid both discussing “tell me about yourself” territory. The former might focus on design skill, but the latter on workflows and how the candidate works with others.
Related Article: How Much Does Hiring and Onboarding Cost?
Team members should also have a way to share feedback following the interview that is funneled to the ultimate decisionmaker. How did the candidate do? Do interviewers have any concerns or doubts about his or her abilities? It might also help for interviewers to meet and discuss these thoughts or concerns. Discussing these ideas and choices in a large (and ideally diverse) group can protect from hiring biases based on gender, race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, etc.
Bottom line: Define your process up front and keep it structured and standardized.
2. Teach legal dos and don’ts
Recruiters should be aware of what’s legal and illegal to ask in an interview, but inexperienced interviewers might not know the legal rules. Make sure your team knows to avoid questions around:
- Disabilities, illnesses
- Ethnicity, national origin
- Organizational or political affiliation
- Family, children, marital status
Untrained interviewers will more likely accidentally skirt these red-flag areas when making small talk rather than ask about them outright, so it’s critical to bring awareness to these hot spots.
Did you know that asking an interviewee his or her salary history is now illegal in some US states and cities? As of January 2018, employers cannot ask new or potential workers their pay histories in the states of California, Massachusetts, Oregan, and Delaware. You’ll find similar city-wide laws in New York City, Philadelphia, New Orleans, and Pittsburgh. The territory of Puerto Rico also joined this group in March 2018.
Read more about these new laws here: Your Guide to Closing the Gender Wage Gap
3. Help interviewers craft better questions
Candidates and interviewers should know something about one another to be able to ask more meaningful questions than, “what is your biggest weakness?” and “where do you see yourself in five years?” Look at the candidate’s background and craft questions that can deliver real insight.
This means that interviewers should:
- Ask situational questions: Keep people away from cliché questions by first clearly defining the goal of an interview. Interviews should act as a way to determine
- Whether this hire can do the job well and bring ingenuity to the role
- If he or she fits with your preferred structure of working in the office
- Is he or she is professional and easy to work with
#1 comes from asking for specific examples from a person’s professional past. “Tell me about a time when…” will evoke more meaningful responses than basic “Would you be able to…” or “Can you…” questions. Ask for anecdotes, or a walk-through of old projects to see how candidates think and work.
- Reinforce the company’s mission, values, and culture: Interviewers should be able to share how you’ve codified your company culture and mission. They should also be open about what they personally like and find challenging about the company. Sugar-coating the tough parts about working with your company doesn’t do you any favors: while it might convince a candidate to sign on, it might also mean they’ll leave just as quickly due to poor fit and mismatched expectations.
Related Article: What’s the True Cost of Bad Hire?
4. Share the art of the follow-up
Who is supposed to follow up with candidates? Establish whether managers or recruiting will follow up, and make sure everyone knows the point person beforehand. Above all, whether your team is moving forward with someone or not, make sure that managers set clear next steps every step of the way. Keeping candidates in suspense about their application status is poor recruiting etiquette.
Ready to extend an offer? Check out our blog on how to improve your onboarding process: 6 Tips for the Best Employee onboarding Experience
This article was originally published on July 20, 2015 and has been updated.