Interviewing 101: Setting up a Successful Interview Process
This second installment of Interviewing 101 covers how to set up a successful interview process.
The first installment of this series covered how to choose the right candidate to interview. In the preinterview stage, there's a lot of prep work involved, from creating a job description to sorting resumes, all leading up to choosing people to talk to.
Now you're ready to design an interview process that ensures you ask the right questions and, ultimately, pick the right person. This second installment of Interviewing 101 covers how to set up a successful interview process.
The circumstances of your business and of the role will inform who should conduct the actual interview or interviews. Some businesses have dedicated HR staff, while others do not. If your business doesn't have HR, the business owner may have to take the lead.
If the new hire will join an existing team, you may want their potential co-workers to get involved. They may be able to determine if a candidate will be good culture fit. And it's usually a good idea to have the new hire's future manager take the lead in this process, whenever possible
In any case, all interviewers should have some training not just in how to interview well but also how various employment laws can impact the interview process. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, as well as other state and local anti-discrimination laws play a part in how you can formulate interview questions. Interviewers should focus on questions relating to a candidate's experience and skills, and refrain from asking about anything that may cause a candidate to reveal a protected characteristic. Part three of this series goes more in-depth about how to mitigate unconscious bias in your hiring process.
Deciding Your Interviewing Structure
Individual and group interviews serve different purposes. An individual interview allows the interviewer to develop a rapport while learning about the interviewee's background and presenting the position, the business and the benefits of working there. Each person markets to the other what they have to offer. This is often a solid choice for a first round interview.
For the second round, it's a good idea to hold a group interview. A group interview allows key players, including co-workers, the opportunity to ask position-specific questions and demonstrate the culture.
No matter how you structure your interview process, assembling a diverse set of interviewers will help capture a useful range of perspectives and may help mitigate unconscious biases.
Meet and Greet
When you meet your candidate, be professional — in a way that is consistent with your company culture — and friendly. Some businesses are jeans and flannel all the time, others are suits and ties, while still others are somewhere in between. Whatever your company's style, make sure you're a good host. Shake hands firmly. Offer coffee, tea or water. And manage your time so that you don't leave your candidate awkwardly stranded while you go finish a task or, worse, print off their resume.
The whole point of interviewing is to gather information to help you determine whether a person is a good fit in terms of experience and personality. Go into the interview with a prepared list of standard questions regarding the candidates' knowledge, skills and abilities as well as past performance. Use the same questions for every interview.
In addition, prepare a prioritized list of measurable criteria for analyzing and comparing candidates. And before you meet the candidate, review their resume carefully.
While interviewing, look for career behavior patterns. Does the candidate enjoy detailed or big-picture work? Are they a generalist or specialist? Draw out examples of past performance and ask situational questions about specific problems the candidate might face.
Observe how well the candidate listens. Note word choices and nonverbal behavior. Be aware of the candidate's questions and clarify why those questions were asked.
Take detailed notes — not on the resume or application — to help you distinguish between candidates. Organize your information immediately.
Once you've gone through the interview process, analyzed your notes and made your comparisons, you should walk away that much closer to a high-quality hire.