Running Your Business

Training Employees to Conduct a Candidate Interview and Join Hiring Discussions

  • Current employees can bring fresh insights and perspectives to the candidate interview process
  • Before joining the hiring table, employees should be prepped on interviewing best practices
  • Teach them how to ask good questions and which ones should be avoided at all costs
Posted by October 25, 2019

It’s a tight labor market, and employers are eager to recruit top talent. Conducting the candidate interview is a critical part of this process and one that can benefit from a wide range of perspectives. For many organizations that means including current employees in the process, offering them opportunities to interview and evaluate their potential new colleagues.

Many employees, though, haven’t had previous opportunities to participate in a candidate interview; they’ll need to be given training, resources and information to serve effectively in this role. Here’s how employers can prepare others to conduct interviews.

Explain What Skills a Candidate Should Possess

To participate effectively in the candidate interview process, employees need to understand what the new job requires. Employers should review the job description to ensure it is current and accurate, and provide anyone participating in the interview with a copy to read and review prior to the interview.

Everyone will want to compare the job requirements with the candidate’s resume and application to look for areas of alignment as well as gaps. For instance, if one of the job requirements for a financial analyst is attention to detail, and the resume mentions how they saved an organization thousands of dollars on a project they led, that would show good alignment.

If a candidate is failing to impress, the interviewer would want to make a note to ask about a specific requirement, such as, “Could you tell me about a time where your attention to detail resulted in a financial benefit to an organization?”

Be Clear About Hiring Criteria

Along with understanding the job requirements, employees participating in the interview process should understand the criteria being used in selection.

Companies often use a matrix as a tool during job interviews. A matrix will list the hiring criteria and provide each one with a weight—from one to five, with five being high. Employees can rate each candidate on each of the factors using that scale, and then compare their results to evaluate next steps.

Train on Asking Good Interview Questions

Any employee participating in a candidate interview should receive some training or education on how to ask effective questions. In many cases, today’s employers, HR professionals and hiring managers use behavioral questions: questions that ask not about what an employee would do in a certain situation, but about what they have actually done. For instance: “Tell me about a time when you interacted with an unhappy customer. How did you handle the situation? What did you learn?”

Encourage employees to ask open-ended, rather than closed-ended, questions. For instance: “What do you believe are your top qualifications for this position?” is an open-ended question, while, “Are you detail-oriented?” is a closed-ended question.

Relay Questions That Should Never Be Asked

Certain questions are prohibited in both the application and interview process. These are questions that are considered to be discriminatory and in conflict with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission guidelines.

It’s important for employees to understand which questions they should not ask. One general rule of thumb here is that questions should always be related to the requirements of the job, not the personal traits or attributes of the applicants.

Make Inclusion a Top Priority

During the hiring process, organizations must ensure that they are being inclusive and that they are not, however inadvertently, discounting the value that diverse candidates can lend to the workplace.

Employees should be coached on inclusive interviewing practices to keep any unconscious biases they may have out of the equation. After all, it’s about hiring the right people for the position based on their skills and fit and nothing else. In general, workplaces that promote inclusivity and diversity as part of their company culture are likely to attract candidates with those same values.

Employees’ input can be critical in hiring. And once they fully understand how their perspectives and input can improve the hiring process, these employees can be integral in bringing on new, promising talent.

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