Effective Interview Training Should Include These 4 Things

Interviewing isn’t intuitive to everyone. In fact, it’s probably not intuitive to most. Your organization’s interviewers have other full-time jobs, and they could benefit from your expertise in this area. By providing interview training, your interviewers will be better equipped to identify the best candidates for your open roles—and sell those candidates on the prospect of working at your organization. Here are four things you should consider incorporating into your interview training:

1. Interviewing at-large

It’s always a good idea to cover the basics of interviewing, so that each interviewer has the same foundational knowledge. Explain the interview techniques used at your organization, such as structured and behavioral interviews—including why you use them, and how to conduct them effectively. This may also include some department-specific training, such as technical interview training. Discuss your company values, and help interviewers understand how to suss out a good culture fit candidate. Finally, review any tools the interviewers will have at their disposal, such as interview kits and feedback forms.

2. Illegal interview questions

Illegal interview questions can vary by state, so it’s best to consult an attorney to develop a comprehensive list of questions to avoid. In general, interviewers should avoid any questions around the candidate’s age, disability, ethnic origin, gender, sexual orientation, race, religion, veteran status, or marital status. Federal and state laws prohibit discrimination and these questions, whether or not they were asked with malicious intent, can lead to unfair hiring practices. In some states, it’s also illegal to ask for a candidate’s social media passwords or salary history. Laws change often, so it’s important to review and update this part of your interview training regularly.

3. Unconscious bias training

Unconscious bias is inherent in all of us. Studies have shown that resumes with white-sounding names receive more callbacks than those with black-sounding names, and that males are typically seen as more qualified than their female counterparts. To make the best—and fairest—hiring decisions, it’s crucial that we learn to identify and overcome these biases. Whether you borrow unconscious bias training from another organization, or develop your own, don’t leave this important aspect out of your interview training program. Then, empower your team to call out potential biases as they see them. For instance, question vague feedback such as “the candidate didn’t seem very qualified” or “they aren’t a good culture-fit.” Interviewers should always explain the basis of their candidate feedback scores with examples from the interview process.

4. Candidate experience training

Your candidates are interviewing you as much as you are interviewing them. If you want to win the best talent for your team, candidate experience training can help your interviewers make a positive impression. Remind them to arrive to the interview on-time and prepared, and to give the candidate their full attention. Interviewers should be friendly and polite, and give each candidate the opportunity to ask their own questions. It can be a useful exercise to review past candidate feedback to reinforce what a good experience looks like, and to provide examples of what not to do. As new feedback emerges, it should be incorporated into the interview training program to ensure that the candidate experience is constantly improving.

Final thoughts

Effective interview training, like interviewing itself, should be constantly evolving and improving to elicit the best possible hiring outcomes. While you may provide an initial training session prior to an employee’s first interview, it can be helpful to provide refresher courses during a team interview kickoff meeting. Remind each interviewer of how to best conduct the interview and which questions to avoid, as well as to keep an open mind and provide a stellar candidate experience. Following each hiring process, your interview team may also benefit from a post-mortem to discuss how they can improve the next time around. In this way, interview training becomes a continuous learning process that helps each interviewer make a stronger impact on your organization’s recruitment outcomes.