Tips to Train Managers to Interview

Everyone has to start somewhere. New hires need to receive training for their job to do that job well. The trouble comes from cases where the role is critical enough that mistakes are costly. In IT or Development, there are version controls, test environments, and security processes. In manufacturing, there’s redundancy and time spent training on machines. In customer service, there’s escalation and intervention.

When it comes to hiring, there’s very little room for error. A new hiring manager makes a decision, but if they make the wrong decision, it can be devastating. A great candidate may slip through your fingers, and a poor-quality candidate might be hired in their stead. Worse, your novice hiring manager might make mistakes that can lead to lawsuits if they made judgments based on protected characteristics. Even asking the wrong questions, no matter how reasonable they seem, can land you and your company in hot water.

We’re not kidding about the cost being high. According to a CareerBuilder survey:

“Financially speaking, 41% of companies believe bad hires cost them over $25,000, while 25% put the price tag at $50,000+.” –ZipRecruiter

That’s not a price you can afford to waste, no matter how large your business.

How do you avoid this? As with any job, training and supervision are paramount. Your new hiring manager needs a detailed overview from an experienced hiring manager, and you need to train them properly.

Here are ten tips you can put into practice to help guide their training and ensure that they’re on the same page as your existing hiring team.

1. Maintain Consistency

One of the most important requirements of an interview is asking the same questions of every candidate, regardless of who they are or what their situation is.

Maintaining Consistency

While conversation can evolve organically, the starting points must be the same for everyone. Deviating from those questions can be the root of discrimination.

“Ask the same questions of every applicant for the same job. By doing this, you can evaluate each candidate on the same questions and responses and reduce potential discrimination claims.” – Eugena Bellamy, Marketing & Sales Coordinator at StaffScapes, Inc.

One of the hardest parts of interviewing is setting up the list of questions that need to be asked. Every role within the company will have two sets of questions. The first set is specific to the job and should be developed through working with a team leader or manager in the department that needs the new employee. The other set of questions is generic to your entire company and needs to look for culture fit.

2. Train Awareness of Body Language

Body language goes both ways. Candidates will be watching you as you conduct an interview, looking for responses to their answers. Building awareness of your body language helps you control it, to present the kind of impartial face you want to set your candidates at ease.

Body Language Training

Likewise, learning to read body language can help your hiring manager learn to interpret additional cues from your candidates. Are they expecting specific questions? Are they prepared for what you’re asking them? Have you thrown them a curveball? Are there signs that they’re lying to get their foot in the door? There are a lot of signs, both good and bad, that can be interpreted from candidate body language.

Modern Hire stresses the importance of reading body language and other non-verbal cues:

“The ability to accurately read candidates’ body language is an interviewing skill hiring managers can improve with your help. Equally important is making them aware of their non-verbal cues. By actively thinking about and controlling their body language, hiring managers can enhance the candidate experience and the productivity of the meeting.”

3. Ask Relevant Questions

The list of interview questions you develop for your interviews needs to be focused on relevance for the position and the company. There are two major pitfalls to avoid. The first is avoiding asking any questions that can be the root cause of a discrimination suit. There are a lot of questions that might seem relevant at first glance, but can be used to determine (and thus discriminate based on) the age, religion, orientation, or another protected class of a candidate.

Asking Relevant Questions

The second major pitfall is asking glorified trivia questions to try to “trip up” a candidate, put them off their game, and see how they respond to the unexpected. These questions don’t necessarily gauge how effective a candidate may be at their role or as a cultural fit for your company.

“These interviewers try to trip interviewees up and ask tricky questions—”Why is a manhole round?” or “How did the markets do yesterday?”—which are just trivia. ‘In the end, trick questions might land you the most knowledgeable candidate, and maybe even someone who can beat a Russian chess master, but knowledge and ability to do the job are not the same thing.'” – Geoff Smart and Randy Street, Who: The ‘A’ Method for Hiring

4. Let the Candidate Talk

In a conversation, particularly in a high-stakes setting like an interview, it’s human nature to want to fill dead air and make every moment productive. Many novice hiring managers fill the air with small talk, mention comments they should generally keep to themselves, or dominate an interview with their presence.

Let The Candidate Talk

The truth is, it’s often better to suppress that instinct and let the candidate deal with the dead air themselves. Do they speak up? Do they offer relevant information, make small talk, crack jokes, or ask insightful questions? How they act in the gaps between questions can tell you a lot about them.

“Don’t talk too much. It’s human nature to want to fill the ‘dead air’ in a conversation, but one of the best ways to explore a candidate’s thinking is to resist the urge to fill that dead air and instead let them do so. When the human mind starts racing for things to talk about a lot of the filters get pushed aside, and that’s when you see what’s really behind the pre-planned answers.” – Rich Enos, CEO & Co-Founder of StudyPoint, Inc.

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5. Ask for Real Experiences

One common interview technique is to set forth a hypothetical situation and ask how the candidate would react to that situation. The idea is that they can analyze their process and give you the answer they would follow.

Real Experiences

The truth is, they will often simply make up what they think you would want to hear. Particularly for stressful situations, how an individual reacts is rarely logical or thought out. Instead of asking a hypothetical, ask about their work experiences and how they handled them.

“Don’t ask hypothetical questions because people make up the answer. Instead, ask for specific situations. For example, don’t ask, ‘What would you do if a customer gets angry on the phone?’ Instead, ask, ‘Tell me of a time when someone got mad at you — what did you do?'” – Bob Legge, President of Legge & Company, LLC

6. Make Them Part of a Whole

The hiring process is much broader than just the interview process. Your hiring managers are not the leaders of this process, they are part of a larger whole. Every step of your process, from your job postings to your pre-screens to your interviews to your onboarding process should be a consistent, branded, holistic experience.

Company Integration

What this means is that your hiring managers need to be aware of their place in the overarching plan. You also need to make them aware that they represent your company just as much as any salesperson or marketer, and that they’re responsible for presenting a branded experience in conjunction with your other efforts.

“Hiring managers plug into your hiring process at specific times. They may not be aware of your work to provide a consistent, branded candidate experience, and how fundamental that experience is in making great hires. A CareerBuilder study found just 16% of hiring managers are trained on carrying the candidate experience. Help them better understand their important role in the process, and their part in selling your organization’s employer brand.” – Modern Hire

7. Don’t Create an Imaginary Perfect Candidate

Creating a candidate profile is important. A candidate profile is a template of the skills, abilities, and attitudes that make for an ideal candidate. It is not, however, a list of requirements. The truth is, far too many hiring managers get hung up on finding the perfect, most ideal candidate for a job, the one who matches every item on the candidate profile.

Perfect Candidate

In reality, you will rarely find a perfect candidate. Everyone has their pitfalls. It’s important to recognize when a pitfall is something that can be learned or trained, or when it’s a foundational skill that disqualifies a candidate. Defining requirements versus “nice-to-have” skills is important.

“We strongly encourage you to not get stuck on hiring the perfect candidate. That candidate may not exist and you may waste months trying to fill a position that can be filled with someone who is not only smart, curious and eager to learn but who you can train to be the hire you want and need.” – Bill Gates, HR Partner for HireWell

8. Use Job Shadowing

Many new hires spend some time shadowing others on the job or working under supervision, and HR should be no different. While your company might traditionally conduct interviews in a one-on-one setting, when training a new hiring manager, you may want to have them shadow an experienced hiring manager.

Job Shadowing

This is important for training the new hire, but what is more important is the follow-up. Ask the hiring trainee what questions they might have asked that you didn’t, and why, and if necessary, explain to them why you didn’t ask those questions. Explain the rationale behind your decisions and conduct in the interview. Ask them their thoughts on the candidate and see how well they line up. Give them an interview scorecard to fill out and see how well their opinions line up with your own.

9. Bring In Assistance

Your hiring manager is a specialist in hiring, which means they need to have a minimum awareness of what everyone else in your company does. You can’t expect them to have technical skills and understanding of niche topics, and yet they need to hire candidates who do.

Bring in Assistance

You can assist with this in two ways. The first is to vet candidates. If all of your candidates have already been filtered by those skills, you can ensure that your hiring manager knows to put weight on them.

“Another consequence of vetting the candidate is that you may find out that there are certain skill sets that they have that you are not as familiar with. If it is unique, such as a technical specialty, you may have to do some internet research to ensure you can ask them questions about these skills. You want them to understand that you are taking the time to invest in them as well. If this is a good match, you don’t want them to decline and go somewhere that they feel appreciates and values their skills more.” – Skillpath

The second technique is to bring in an expert, typically a manager in the department where the new hire would work, to assess those skills and ask questions in person.

10. Take Time to Review the Candidate

Nothing is worse for a candidate than attending an interview with a hiring manager they’ve talked to before, only to be treated as if you’ve never met or talked.

Take Time to Review Candidate

One technique hiring managers can use to avoid this situation is reviewing the profile and resume of the candidate before the interview. This can help put you in the right frame of mind, give you ideas of specifics you want to ask the candidate, and remind you of the answers they have already given.

“Reviewing the candidate’s resume right before the interview to refresh your memory, develop any last-minute questions about details it contains, and get in the right frame of mind.” – JazzHR

Hiring the best candidate for any given role is not solely the work of the hiring manager, and it’s important to remember that everything from your job marketing to your pre-screening to your application process plays a role. Your hiring manager makes the final decision, but much of the lead-up to that decision needs to be in place to give them the right choices.

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