How to Train Hiring Managers to Conduct Effective Interviews |

Finding, curating and developing talent is going to be essential for any business success and this happens at the interview stage. Half of all candidates decline job offers after feeling disrespected during the interview process. Equally, when things go wrong like a bad interview, for example, choosing the wrong candidate, poor hiring decisions and even compliance issues afterwards can lead to hiring managers burning out and giving up altogether.

Whether it is unconscious bias that affects the hiring manager's ability to choose good candidates, not being up to date with ethical questioning methods or not enough time to prepare, targeted training will help to overcome these obstacles.

Laying the foundation: Understanding the importance of effective interviews

Statistics have shown that 62.2% of candidates shared that they received "bad interview vibes" as their top reason for turning down a job offer.

However, being able to effectively interview candidates is not only going to give them a good experience, it’s going to be essential for hiring managers especially when it comes to hiring the best talent, reducing turnover and stopping workplace burnout.

Every hiring manager needs to understand that good interviews do have sequences to learn.

Firstly, clarify the interview objectives. For hiring managers to prepare for an interview, it is a good idea to first identify the job skills and competencies required for success in the role that they are recruiting for. What is the cultural fit for the right candidate and what are the growth opportunities in the business?

Secondly, it’s about understanding common pitfalls. One of the biggest ones which hiring managers have been working hard to reduce and eliminate is unconscious bias. Unconscious bias is a partiality or judgement that one has towards or against a specific person or group of people which then operates on a subconscious level. It can even be as minor as someone having dyed their hair blue. Understanding what is and isn’t conscious bias helps recruitment managers to step up their knowledge and experience and identify the talent that would be the right fit for the business.

Thirdly, there is the candidate's experience. Good and effective interview techniques contribute to a good experience. A positive candidate experience, according to a Glassdoor study, can boost the quality of hires and increase the chances of recruiting and retaining top talent. In turn, this reflects better on the brand which then helps the recruitment of future top talent. 

Developing a structured interview training programme

Structured interviews ask a set of questions in a structured format intended to help hiring managers collect valuable data from each candidate which can then be compared to the response of other candidates. They are on the whole, more objective and legally defensible than unstructured interviews.

A programme will include things like outlining the key elements that should be included in interview training for hiring managers such as job descriptions and requirements, knowing how to craft the right and relevant questions and mastering the art of active listening.

A good way to then practise this programme is by working through it. For example, you may create role-playing scenarios which allow the hiring manager to refine their techniques and get an understanding of the process in a controlled environment. The training programme should also include a feedback mechanism which allows hiring managers to improve and track their progress over time. What has worked, what doesn’t and what could be improved significantly to help with the overall experience.

Teaching effective questioning techniques

There are many different types of effective questioning techniques which should be included in any training programme, these include;

  • Behavioural and situational questions

Do you want to know about experience and problem-solving abilities? Then use behavioural and situational questions to gain insights. For example, “Describe a time when you have had to deal with a difficult colleague?”

  • Question design

Knowing what to ask and when is essential. Thus question design is of the highest importance as it means you are designing open-ended, job-specific and legally compliant questions.

  • Evaluating responses

When it comes to candidate responses, you want to be in the best position to identify what is a good response through objectivity. Ask yourself things like, what evidence is there to support their answer? What other information do I need based on their answers etc?

Addressing and reducing unconscious bias

As previously mentioned, unconscious bias is partiality or judgement that one has towards or against a specific person or group of people that operates on a subconscious level. This needs specific and careful consideration, equally understanding that this is something that can’t be fixed overnight but that it can be fixed over time.

Therefore, hiring managers need to be aware of how to reduce and eventually eliminate this from the hiring process. For example, awareness training designed to mitigate bias by learning about the different forms of unconscious bias is a tool that hiring managers should have.

By advocating for a structured interview process, hiring managers can rely on a set of predetermined questions and evaluation criteria to ensure consistency for every candidate and subsequently, discover that all candidates are being treated the same way, eliminating unconscious bias.

Another structure and method to reduce bias would be to have diverse interview panels which allow multiple interviewers with different backgrounds and perspectives to the evaluation process, thus levelling any biases to a minimum as they all follow the same structured criteria.

Utilising technology and tools in interviews

Of course, one of the big advantages that hiring managers have today is the use of technology. Leveraging interview software to better screen candidates, provide transparency in the evaluation and interview process and even maintain records of all interactions and where the candidate is in the selection process.

One advantage of using technology is that hiring managers can use video interviews. As they are becoming more common it's easy to get things wrong in the whole process. Therefore, there are some easy tips to ensure hiring managers don’t get it wrong. Such as;

  • Ask clear questions
  • Be structured in your approach 
  • Maintain a strict schedule
  • Don’t get flustered with tech issues - if something happens, reschedule.

Continuous learning and improvement

What areas can they improve on? What do they do well? What legal matters are showing in the industry and what can they do to mitigate these things?

Having sessions to develop knowledge and skills whilst actively building feedback with their peers and other professionals is of course the best way to proceed. What can they learn from each other’s experiences to continuously improve their interviewing skills? What other techniques can they utilise to get a better understanding of bias and how to eradicate it? 

Building a foundation for successful hiring 

It’s down to businesses to take a keen look at what a hiring manager does and to support them. Thomas International is committed to supporting businesses in this essential aspect of team building, offering a range of resources and expertise to enhance interview training programmes.

Like every good professional, it doesn’t all stop the second you qualify, you need to keep continuously learning. If you want the best hires for your team, then be sure to invest in the technology and programs that can help your hiring managers succeed.