As a hiring manager, conducting interviews is the most crucial part of the hiring process. There’s so much that can go wrong resulting in you either hiring the wrong candidate or losing the best hire on your interview list.
If that happens, you’ve made a costly mistake which was most likely avoidable. There are, of course, ways to prevent interview mistakes, and listed below are three often overlooked interview techniques to spice up your hiring process so that you select the best candidate every time.
Not doing thorough pre-interview preparation is probably the most costly mistake of all when it comes to interviewing techniques. Many interviewers either follow a one-size-fits-all approach or go by gut feel. Neither of these methods is going to bag you the best candidate though!
Proper preparation begins with the job description. Ensure that it’s updated and is an accurate reflection of the requirements needed to get the job done now. Many interviewers forget that technology and job requirements change as a department or business evolves, and what was relevant even a few months ago might not be the full picture today. Focus on the essential skills and values that are key in the immediate term and also consider how they may develop in the short to medium term.
Although most people know that asking the right questions during an interview is vital, the individuality of each candidate must be considered. Irrelevant of whether you prefer questionnaires or setting up your own list of interview questions, you must ensure that they are tailored or prepared with each specific candidate’s application in mind. No two people are the same so each candidate will present themselves differently. By taking the individuality of each application into consideration, you’ll be able to ask questions that align with the job description. In that way, you can drill down and expanded on any issues that are unclear from the candidate’s resume and identify the pros and cons of the application very easily.
That done, compile a structured interview process based on the level of skill and experience the job requires. Consider how many internal stakeholders are involved in the interview process and if personality and skills assessments are necessary.
Also think about how the interview will be conducted, and if video or telephonic interviews are an option. This is very important to avoid wasting time when scheduling interviews, particularly if potential candidates are from out of town, or if internal stakeholders will be away from the office during the interview timeframe.
Although these points might look like common sense, many people overlook these important interview techniques for that very reason.
2. Avoid personal biases
We’re all prone to any range of personal biases and hiring managers must be particularly aware of this because they can lead to substantial errors when making hiring decisions. Avoiding bias is something that’s not often considered an interview technique, but it’s an important point to be aware of.
Biases can pop up unexpectedly and these are the most common:
- Social bias when we compare a candidate with ourselves and pass unsubstantiated judgments, negative or positive, based on the likes of qualifications, appearance social standing or personality.
- Confirmation bias if we’re overly impressed by a candidate’s resume or skills before meeting them, or on sight within the first few minutes after meeting them; it can also apply in reverse if we see something that puts us off. What follows is that we then subconsciously try to validate our initial positive or negative impression and remain blind to anything that contradicts it.
- Familiarity or heuristic bias that’s formed on emotion. Maybe you see from a candidate’s resume that they attended to the same university you did, or they worked for a company you previously worked for as well; or maybe you glean that they might have the same social interests or hobbies that you have. This can evoke emotions of familiarity that can cloud your judgment.
Hiring managers who prefer to conduct interviews on gut feel are particularly inclined to confirmation bias, familiarity bias, and making snap decisions (which they often regret quite soon afterward) that could impact their rational decision making. If you’re inclined to follow your gut feeling in interviews, add bias awareness to your list of interview techniques.
How can we prevent biases creeping into the interview process?
It’s best always to have more than one person involved in the interview process because we’re all inclined to conscious or subconscious biases at some time or another. Different opinions and observations are an excellent leveler that will allow each candidate to be fairly evaluated.
3. There is no “perfect”
Being mindful of the pursuit of perfection is also not usually considered as an interview technique, but it definitely should be. If a vacancy is proving especially difficult to fill, or if it shows to have a high turnover rate, it’s important to consider if the job description has been compiled with realistic expectations. All too often managers are searching for a perfect fit without considering the reality of what they’re looking for.
It could be that the skills and experience required don’t match the salary on offer, or that the desired personality traits are out of line with the type of job. Let’s say you’re looking for a highly skilled, outgoing and people-oriented accountant to do take on a detailed and specialist role in finance that involves working in isolation for the most part. There are many highly skilled, outgoing and people-orientated accountants out there, but it’s unlikely that they will want to work in isolation. They’ve probably opted to work in finance roles that involve a lot of interaction with other people.
Sometimes hiring managers have unrealistic expectations and they transfer these into job descriptions, the interview process, candidates and employees.
Many interview techniques aren’t obvious when we’re under pressure to fill a vacancy. Taking the time to do some in-depth planning and preparation can mean the difference between a successful long-term hire, and having to start the hiring process all over again when an unsuccessful hire falls out after a few months.