Why you need to train your staff how to interview

As we so often point out, the average wrong hire costs an organisation 2.5 times the annual salary of the employee. With this is in mind, it is clearly key to get the interview process right in order to maximise the chances of a successful hire. However, whilst a robust process is important, it is ultimately only as good as the people who run it, and this is where interview training comes in.

Chances are you will have senior managers with significant interview experience in the team. They will know how to create rapport with someone and how to assess the skill level and personal qualities they are looking for. However, experience doesn’t necessarily help them eliminate bias (for a fun demonstration of confirmation bias, and how common it is, try this numerical puzzle from the NY Times), or create a consistent, replicable process. It is also important a consistent message is delivered to candidates, and that everyone works to the same goals.

staff need interview trainingRegardless of the existing experience in the firm, interview training helps protect the firm against unintentional discrimination, creates a better candidate experience and improves the firm’s hiring success. Here’s how:

Everybody needs to understand what the bar is
It is essential that everyone involved has a clear understanding of the position the firm is trying to fill, and which behaviors and attitudes are associated with success in the role. A job description will help define which characteristics, experience and qualifications are required.

Everybody needs to be able to assess against this with meaningful questions
One of the dangers of not training staff is the potential to slip into a line of questioning that is too personal, not sufficiently focused on professional experience, or riddled with clichés.

Everybody needs to know how to “sell” the firm
Firms often focus on what the candidate can bring to the firm, but in a competitive market, the reverse is equally important. How should hiring managers present the firm to candidates? What can and can’t they share about the firm’s strategy, mission and structure? What of benefits, perks and working culture?

Everybody needs to know relevant legislation
Not all interview questions are legal (or appropriate!), and all team members involved in the hiring process should have a good understanding of the relevant legislation, from GDPR to the Equality Act.

Everybody needs to understand the process
Good communication and clear processes are essential for a good candidate experience. It is important that interviewers are able to set expectations and tell candidates what they can expect in terms of feedback, next stages and timings.

Everybody needs to follow the process
Different firms follow different processes. This can involve everything from informal chats to structured interviews, and tests or presentations. Whichever format is used, everyone needs to follow the same guidelines and be clear on what is expected of them.

Not everybody is comfortable interviewing and training will help colleagues
Interviewing comes naturally to some, or experience has given them comfort, but this won’t be true of everyone. For most hiring managers, good interviewing skills are not key to their day job. Training will allow staff to learn from each other.

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