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Companies have a lot riding on getting the interviewing process right. While sourcing a viable pool of candidates is critical, the interview is where the rubber hits the road. The interview process is an opportunity for the organization to conduct a deeper evaluation of candidates' capabilities, problem-solving skills, cultural fit, and potential for growth within the organization.
Conversely, when the interview process goes wrong, it can have a significant negative impact on the organization. It can lead to the wrong hire, which can have a negative impact on organizational productivity, performance, retention, and culture. It can also allow personal bias to creep into the hiring process, which can expose the organization to legal jeopardy and prevent it from recognizing and hiring the best talent.
Follow these nine best practices to create an interview process that's fair, defensible, and designed to help you identify the best candidate for the job.
Define job requirements
If you haven't done a thorough job of defining what's required to be successful in the position, the interview process can't help you identify the best candidate. Every good interview starts with a good job description that captures the skills, experience, education, and competencies that define on-the-job success. That job description should also be reviewed and validated by the people in your organization who perform the job or manage people who do.
Conduct structured interviews
Research shows that structured interviews are significantly more effective at combating bias and predicting successful performance on the job. Develop a consistent set of questions that cover the key aspects of the job and the candidate's background. This allows for fair comparisons between candidates and helps you gather relevant information.
Use behavioral questions
Ask candidates about their past experiences and how they handled specific situations relevant to the role. This approach helps assess their skills, problem-solving abilities, and how they might perform in the position. When your job descriptions include competencies, you can compare their answers with the behavioral indicators for those competencies to see how well their answers align with the behaviors required for success in the role.
Be an active listener
Be attentive and actively listen to candidates' responses. Encourage them to elaborate and ask follow-up questions to gain deeper insights. This demonstrates your interest and helps you better understand their capabilities. As you listen, document key points during the interview. This will help you recall details when evaluating candidates later and ensure fairness in decision-making.
Assess cultural fit
Evaluate candidates not only for their skills and qualifications but also for their compatibility with the company culture. Rather than focusing on superficial and bias-driven considerations such as whether their life stage, life experience, and cultural reference points are similar to yours and those of the team they'll be working with, consider how well they align with the values, mission, and team dynamics of your organization.
Choose the right number of interviewers
Include multiple interviewers from different functional areas or teams to provide diverse perspectives and reduce individual biases. Collaborative evaluations lead to a more comprehensive assessment of candidates. However, keep in mind that more interviewers isn't always better. Research shows more than four interviews does not improve the quality of the hire and the effort involved in participating in four or more interviews could discourage good candidates and cause them to drop out of the process.
Be conscious of the impact of bias
Using a structured interview process can help to reduce the impact of bias in the interview process, but it's also a good idea to be aware of the unconscious biases that may affect your judgment. By recognizing the ways in which irrelevant factors such as gender, race, ethnicity, age, or any other protected characteristic can adversely affect the decision-making process at the interview stage, you can refocus your attention on each candidate's qualifications and abilities.
See interviewing as a two-way street
Interviewing helps the company evaluate candidates, and it also helps candidates evaluate the company. Give candidates an opportunity to ask questions about the role, team, or organization. Not only will this give you valuable information about their interests and priorities, but it will give them the insights they need to make an informed decision if offered the job.
Using competency-based interview questions to evaluate job candidates can help to strengthen the interview process in several ways:
- Objectivity. Competency-based interview questions provide an objective, standardized approach to evaluating candidates that helps companies assess candidates' skills, abilities, and experiences.
- Relevance. Competency-based questions are directly linked to the key requirements of the role and ensure that the evaluation is aligned with the job's demands.
- Depth. Competency-based questions allow for a deeper evaluation of candidates' skills, knowledge, and abilities.
- Validity. Competency-based interviews have shown higher predictive validity in determining future job performance compared to more general or hypothetical questions.
Get more great interviewing resources
Continue the learning with these free resources on behavioral and competency-based interviewing best practices:
- Read this blog post on preparing your candidates for behavioral interviews.
- Get a free competency-based interview guide that's customized to a specific role.
- Download the Complete Guide to Running Competency-Based Interviews.