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Making Hiring Managers Better Interviewers

Ian Cameron Jun 6, 2014 9:51:00 AM

Interview skillsAll companies recognize how important it is to hire candidates who are a good fit for the open position—in terms of specific knowledge and experience, skill set, and temperament. Yet decisions are often made by hiring managers who are untrained and inexperienced as interviewers.

Even the best interviewer is getting questionable information from an interview. A study from Michigan State University found that 90 percent of hiring decisions are made based on interviews. That same study found that interviews accurately predicted future success just 14 percent of the time. If the interviewer isn't skilled, that number may be even lower.

Unfortunately, interview training isn't taught to many outside of HR. Imagine if all of your hiring managers had interview training. How much more effective would that make your recruiting process? Well, we can't conduct an interview training session on this blog, but we can give you a few common mistakes to share with your hiring managers:

  • Asking questions that they will learn nothing from.  A prime example of this is What are your weaknesses; areas in which you could improve? An honest answer may be along the lines of, I have real trouble getting to work on time, I tend to be confrontational with my co-workers, I am not good at paying attention to detail. That, of course, is an answer you will never hear; instead, the candidate will provide a non-answer such as I care too much; my Excel skills are very strong but not quite at the expert level; I want to learn a third language. A better question would be, tell me about a time that you handled a situation poorly.
  • Not asking follow-up questions. Once in a while, a candidate will say something that begs for a follow-up question, e.g. most of my supervisors have resented me; I have run into a streak of bad luck; I have realized that I am a pretty solitary person. Letting such a statement dangle is a lost opportunity to learn something critical about the candidate. In fact, effective behavioral interviewing is dependent upon proper probing methods.
  • New Call-to-action Not incorporating role plays. Let's say you are hiring an IT person who will have to work with and talk to non-techies all day long. You want a person who will avoid jargon when discussing technical issues. Asking a question like, will you avoid jargon when discussing technical issues? will get you the expected non-answer. Much more powerful is a role play in which they are support on an IT Help Desk and you are a caller with an extreme lack of knowledge.
  • Talking too much/wanting to impress the candidate. The most effective TV or radio interviews are those in which the interviewer guides the conversation, drawing out honest and thoughtful responses; not where they do most of the talking. The same applies to candidate interviews; while the interviewer does need to review the position and its requirements, they don't need to acquaint the candidate with their own personal history or opinions.

In a recent global survey we conducted, HR professionals identified getting hiring managers to make time for interviews as one of their biggest recruiting challenges. If hiring managers were a little better at interviewing, and therefore more comfortable, we might see this become less of a problem.

Here's a list of some other common interviewing mistakes we see. If you're interested in something more in-depth, we've conducted extensive interview training for HR professionals and hiring managers over the years. If you're interested in becoming a better interviewer, or helping your hiring managers get better, give us a call or email us and ask about our interview training.

What's your experience? Are your hiring managers good interviewers? Do they know if they are or aren't?

Topics: Recruitment

Ian Cameron

Written by Ian Cameron

Ian Cameron is the Managing Director of The McQuaig Institute®. He has more than 20 years of Human Resource and Organizational Development consulting experience. Throughout his career Ian’s focus has been on helping organizations realize their goals through their people and helping people live their passion through their work.