Monday, January 22, 2007

Interviewing Tips for Employers 101

Interview Tips 101
Copyright 2007 Jennifer Britton. All Rights Reserved.

Lately I've received a number of calls from organizations asking about developing an effective interviewing process. A large part of my former work as a manager (in companies which did not have a separate HR department) was to develop interviewing procedures, and implement them. I now teach interviewing skills as part of Business Curicullum at the College level, and often advise organizations on these issues as an HR Consultant. Late last year one of my students asked me just how many interviews I had run over the years. My response - thousands.

I'm going to do a series of blog posts for employers and candidates who are keep posted if you are interested in this topic. I know that interviewing is often a black hole, and often the area that gets left to the end for many small business owners, and managers who function in smaller companies. My intention is to give you some basics on interviewing tips --- either as the interviewer or the interviewee.

Today's post is all about basics for the interviewer.

1. Give thought to the interviewing process and develop a consistent process for all candidates : In order to ensure the best "fit" for your organization, make sure that each candidate is being measured the same way. What this means practically, is that every candidate should be asked the same questions, and should go through the exact same steps. This is important not just for selection, but also to ensure consistency, which could be challenged in the legal environment.

2. Be aware of legislation -Every country has different legislation which will impact the interviewing process. Here in Canada, employers need to be aware of the impact of the Canadian Human Rights Codes and questions that may be prohibited under it. I am constantly amazed at the fact that many well known companies that violate the Charter in their interviewing process. Not being aware of the legislative framework you are operating within can be a very costly mistake. Ensure that all staff involved in the selection process (from recruitment advertising, to the application, interview and selection process) are aware of any prohibited grounds.

3. Group Decisions are better than Individual Decisions: It is more and more common today, and is a best practice, to hold panel interviews. Panel interviews involve two or more interviewers speaking with each candidate. Research has continued to show that group decisions are better than individual decisions for many reasons including the fact that our own personal biases do not play as dominant a role.

When holding a panel interview process, ensure that all panel members are briefed on the process, the position you are hiring for, as well as best practices of interviewing. It is often helpful to build time at the start of the interviewing schedule for a 15-30 minute meeting between the members of the panel at the start of the interviewing process to discuss what it will look like -- who will ask the questions, when and how. In the past when I have led interview processes, I would actually email all panelists an interviewing kit a week or so before the interview, giving them some time to review it prior to the interviews.

4. Block time in between candidates for interviewers to complete their notes, and also to synthesize the group's feedback or recommendations. If you are holding 6-8 hours of interviewing back to back, it is natural to have each candidate start to look like each other. By blocking time in between interviews you can summarize your findings and then move on, returning to your summaries for each candidate at the end of the day or the end of the interview process.

When undertaking a panel interview, make sure that all panelists are comfortable and knowledgable about the process and measurement (for example, if you are using any sort of matrix to measure). Also ensure that all panelists are on the same page (for example, that my rating of 5 is consistent what others rating of 5 looks like). In the later, it can be helpful to provide some specific examples of what behavior would be considered a 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 (if using a 5 point scale).

Stay tuned for more Employer Interview Tips 101...I'll be posting more later this week.

I'd welcome your comments - what are your biggest challenges as an employer when it comes to Interviewing? Please feel free to post below and I'll try to address them in future blog posts.

With best wishes,

Jennifer Britton
Potentials Realized
Email: jennifer[at]

1 comment:

gregbd said...

I Agree with your tios Jennifer, I like my clients to create a behavior standards checklist for eac position. It helps them remain detached during the interview process and make sure they are identifying the traits they know lead to success.