Many aspiring leaders can’t wait to get to the other side of the interview table, where they can finally make some recruitment decisions. In some ways, it is seen as a ‘rite of passage’ into leadership and a sign of success. But there is a lot more riding on the interview outcome than the leader’s ego; and it is critical that hiring managers have the training and support to deliver a fair, consistent and high-quality candidate experience.

As the business works hard to establish a clear brand and Employee Value Proposition (EVP) to bring talent to the table, it is important that hiring managers don’t drop the ball. In a candidate-driven market, it has never been more important to deliver an inclusive interview process that hits the mark for both parties.

Why employers are investing in interview training

There is no question that interviewing is a skill and yet many hiring managers will admit that they have more of a ‘learn as you go’ approach. Sometimes a leader will join your business with extensive interview experience, but with that comes the preferences of the last employer.

Irrespective of how experienced a hiring manager is, it is recommended that employers invest in devising their own set of standards, guidelines, and training to ensure that the employer brand is consistently represented and that even the unsuccessful candidates will reflect positively on the employee experience.

Unproductive interviews are a waste of everyone’s time and cost the business money. When hiring managers are not effectively trained there is not only a chance that it is ineffective; there is a strong risk that it could be unlawful. Unwittingly asking unlawful or discriminatory questions presents a significant risk and needs to be avoided at all costs.

So, what can you do to start training hiring managers?

Establish the guidelines

Start by devising a recruitment and selection policy to incorporate the organisation’s preferences and approach. Determine which positions are eligible to interview and establish the approval process for new hires. Ensure there are clear links to the remuneration and inclusion policies whilst creating the process on interval versus external recruitment. Upskill employees to understand their legal responsibilities in the hiring process.

Roll out unconscious bias training

We all have unconscious bias (UB), and it is key to understand how this creeps into recruitment decisions. Hiring managers should focus on skills, competencies, behaviours, and aptitude; not aspects like gender, appearance, age, or cultural background. Helping hiring managers to understand how UB subconsciously affects hiring decisions is a good start on their learning journey.

Establish consistency

When hiring managers are allowed to go ‘off script’ and ask whatever takes their fancy; the risk is high as it is impossible to create a fair and consistent process. When there is no consistency, you cannot compare candidates as they were each exposed to different questions. This is common in scenarios where the interviewer develops a ‘like me’ bias as they quickly build rapport with a candidate that is ‘like them’. Perhaps they went to the same school or barrack for the same football team, but this is not relevant to a fair process.

Set up a mentor system

Consider pairing up new hiring managers with ones that have already been trained to deliver in line with the organisation’s expectations. As well as allowing time for candidate feedback, ask the mentor to share what went well; and where the opportunities for improvement are present. To build self-awareness, ask the new hiring manager to reflect and share feedback on their own performance.

Teach the hiring managers to view interviewing as a high-end customer experience

Most of us can remember a time when we were interviewed but never heard back. Once the disappointment subsides, we are left with a bad taste about the organisation that we wanted to work for. This is problematic because research suggests that we are also customers of the places we want to work, so as well as losing a candidate; they may also lose a customer. Teach your interviewers to run a recruitment process that is timely, professional and customer-driven. Every candidate deserves to feel valued.

Reflection questions when designing the process

HR teams are usually responsible for designing a ‘best fit’ recruitment training process, however, in smaller organisations, it can be the office manager or senior leader. It is recommended that the following checklist is considered when designing the process and choosing the hiring managers:

  • Is the EVP clearly defined and promoted through the interview process?
  • Can the hiring managers articulate the company’s vision, goals, and values?
  • Is the process designed using the principles of inclusion and diversity?
  • Do the hiring managers understand the intent and purpose of the position?
  • Is there consistent questions and processes prepared for each candidate?
  • Has the selection criteria been clearly defined?
  • Is there gender equity on the panel?
  • Do the hiring managers understand each stage of the recruitment cycle?
  • Is there a candidate communication plan?

Closing the gap

Recruitment is a fundamental leadership skill that can be a rewarding way to contribute to the organisation’s success. It is important that employers don’t assume that each hiring manager has the same level of skill in interviewing and understands that interview experience does not necessarily mean expertise.

Start by identifying which positions will carry recruitment responsibility and then devise a training program designed to close the gap. A well-trained group of hiring managers protects your business from risk; and consistently delivers a positive candidate experience that results in hiring talent that fit the business culture.

Further information

Ai Group has extensive tools and resources to support employers in the attraction, recruitment, and selection of quality candidates. In addition, Ai Group has experienced HR consultants who can partner with your business to devise the right strategy for your business. For assistance with your workplace matters, Members of Ai Group can contact us or call our Workplace Advice Line on 1300 55 66 77 for further information.

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Georgina Pacor

Georgina is Senior Content Writer and HR Specialist – Publications at Ai Group. She is an accomplished Human Resource professional with over 25 years of generalist and leadership experience in a broad range of industries including financial services, tourism, travel, government and agriculture. She has successfully advised and partnered with senior leaders to implement people and performance initiatives that align to business strategy. Georgina is committed to utilising her experience to create resources that educate and engage and is passionate about supporting members to optimise an inclusive workforce culture that drives performance.