I have a confession. When interviewing candidates, I used to think about what question to ask next while they were answering my previous question. This is not ideal. How much information did I miss because I didn't focus on the candidate? What I needed was an interview guide. Your hiring team is using their valuable time to interview candidates. Your hiring team will learn more about the candidates, reduce distractions, and make better hiring decisions by providing an interview guide with relevant and valuable interview questions.
The interview guide documents the entire interview process, including the sequence of interviews, the questions to ask, and the scoring rubric used to evaluate candidates. Creating a helpful interview guide means thinking carefully about the role and each step. Some of the considerations when deciding what should go into the guide include the job type, the level, the job description, and the goals that, if achieved, will make it a successful hire. A typical process documented in the guide could contain an interview sequence similar to this:
- Screening Interview
- Interview Loop consisting of a Hiring Manager Interview, Executive Interview, and Peer Team Member Interview
- Debrief Meeting
- Reference Calls
- Offer Meeting
How many interviews should be in the loop? It depends on the role. If you are hiring entry-level positions in a tight job market, having a streamlined and effective interviewing process with a quick decision can entice candidates. On the other hand, a senior leadership position will often involve interviews with numerous stakeholders.
The questions in each interview are another critical piece. Different types of interviews should have different kinds of questions.
A screening interview should ensure that the candidate meets the job requirements, has compatible pay expectations, and shows the potential to succeed in the job. A common mistake is to overdue the experience requirements. New hires can learn to do new things. An employee with the right behaviors but a little light on the technical skills is typically better than the other way around.
The interview loop may consist of behavioral questions to understand how the candidate faces challenges and job history questions to learn about their track record of performing similar roles. The hiring manager often does more of the job history questions. The other interviewers in the loop may primarily use behavioral interview questions designed to elicit answers about the candidate's compatibility with the company's culture and values.
The interview guide should also contain a scoring rubric. The scoring rubric asks the interviewers to evaluate critical factors in the candidate's ability to succeed in the role, such as the ability to achieve the goals for the position and the cultural competencies, values, and leadership principles specific to the company.
The scoring rubric should not score the answer to each question. There are a few reasons for this. First, the interviewer should focus on taking notes, observing, and asking questions during the interviews. The interviewer should not make judgments at this time. Picture yourself in an interview. If you felt judged when answering questions, would you be more aware of your responses? For me, I would no longer be able to give authentic answers without second-guessing myself. To have the best interview experience for all parties, as an interviewer, you need to be present, engaging, and open with the candidate. Withholding judgment until after the interview allows for a more thoughtful process and more open candidates. In addition, evaluating the candidate's ability to achieve the goals and competencies instead of evaluating individual questions enables the interviewer to see the forest through the trees better. Assessing and grading each question separately favors better interviewers over those who are more likely to succeed in the job.
Interview guides are an incredible tool for your interviewing team. Without one, the process can be haphazard, and the candidates will notice. An interview guide sets your team up for success, giving them the best possible chance to identify the right candidate for the role and avoid the pitfalls that often lead to mis-hires.