A common question I’m asked by colleagues in Recruiting, Human Resources, and People Operations is: How do you actually do interview training?
First, the fact that you’re planning interviewing training is great! Training your interviewers is a super important—and far too often overlooked—piece of a great hiring system. Well-trained interviewers protect your company from unintentional discrimination, ensure a consistently positive process and result in better hires.
The way you and your company choose to structure your training is dependant on many factors: company size, experience-level of interviewers, structure, and bandwidth of your talent team, etc. As a growing startup that gives employees at all levels the opportunity to interview, we hold quarterly training run by the recruiting team. All employees are welcome, whether they’re new to interviewing, want a refresher or just want insight into the process. It’s an interactive presentation with three main buckets of information:
- The rules
- Unconscious bias
- The logistics
Let’s dig a little deeper into each of these sections.
At Greenhouse, we trust that our team wants to be open-minded and would not intentionally discriminate when interviewing. That being said, it is important that we review the rules to make sure everyone is aware of them. We err on the side of being really open with our employees: we ask for examples of times they were unsure of what to ask or how to respond to a question and tell them about times when we were unsure as well.
In this section, we inform our teams about protected classes and how they come into play when interviewing. We also give examples of ‘what not to ask’ and explain why. When building this portion of your training, make sure you consult federal EEO laws, your state’s employment laws and your internal counsel when necessary.
The second portion of our session is about bias in interviewing. We address that everyone has bias and stress that it’s our job as interviewers to recognize the biases we have. We help our teams think through ways to put those biases aside and assess the candidates on their skills and aptitude. We also stress the value created by having a structured hiring process. Having a hiring process that focuses on assessing the attributes necessary for success in a role goes a long way in helping our interviewers make the distinction between their bias and a candidate’s skills!
We make this section interactive by listing a few types of unconscious bias that can come into play during an interview:
First-impression error: Allowing an initial judgment of a candidate – whether good or bad – affect one’s feedback or decision
Groupthink: Allowing the opinions of others – whether good or bad – affect one’s feedback or decision
Halo-horn effect: Allowing one major strength or weakness of a candidate to affect the overall feedback or decision, rather than thinking holistically
We ask the trainees to define each of these biases and talk about times they’ve encountered them. All the while, guiding them towards interviewing best practices.
Logistics of interviewing
Finally, we talk logistics and answer questions about what to actually do in an interview.
If you use a recruiting solution like Greenhouse’s product, you can do an in-product demo to show your interviewers how to get all of the info that they need to successfully complete an interview, including:
What an interview invite will look like
How to navigate to the scorecard or feedback form
Where to find who is interviewing before/after
… and all of the other details and information your recruiting team has built into your hiring process.
I also use the Logistics portion as an opportunity to set expectations. For example, interviewers at Greenhouse can expect the recruiting team to provide them with relevant detailed information and to be available to assist throughout the process. In turn, we expect our interviewers to prepare before they step into an interview, treat every candidate with hospitality, submit scorecards the same day of an interview, etc. We use this opportunity to set the tone for our working relationship going forward.
We continue to iterate on the basic structure of our training to find ways to make it more interactive and tailor it to our company culture. It’s important to us that our team wants to be a part of interviews, so we’re really careful to avoid making it overly serious or pedantic. We also make sure to thank our interviewers for being a part of the process, and highlight how it was good interviewing that brought them onto the team ... and it’s good interviewing that will continue to bring in new smart and talented people for their teams.