While interviews still remain the most commonly used tool for hiring and promoting the best, I have been hearing a lot from HR professionals in various organizations expressing concerns about the quality and consistency in the way their leaders have been interviewing. Companies have confessed that the process is not seen as a critical business need. But, if talent matters, than yes it’s high time that we take a hard stop and introspect each aspect of the interviewing system.
You might have noticed that I am referring to bring a change in the ‘interviewing system’ and not just improve ‘interviewing skills’. And in reality, there is a BIG difference between the two. The latter is just looking at enhancing the caliber of interviews, but the earlier is looking at the whole system of interviewing from right competencies for the right jobs to post selection input towards on-boarding and development initiatives of the new joinee. And that’s a ‘Change’: Research suggests that 70 per cent of change initiatives fail.
So let’s identify the critical 9 steps to drive and make your interviewing system world-class:
Identify a Champion: We all know what role a program manager plays, but what’s important here is an anchor for the systematic upcoming change. The program manager needs to design the interviewing system—including your training approach, training content, delivery options, interview content and number and length of interviews—map the communication strategy internally, plan the implementation, define the end metrics and be a strong believer in advocating the change. In addition, do not forget to have a top-down approach; we all have experienced the impact when programs are driven from the top executives.
Clearly define Success Profiles for your most critical jobs or roles: Identify critical elements that are required for an individual to effectively perform in a job or a role. It is important that you design your behavioral interviewing questions on the success profile for targeted jobs/roles. Success profiles define what’s required to succeed in a given role or job level. It means looking at the four quadrants of competencies, personal attributes, knowledge and experience that define an ideal performer.
Apply a consistent process to all interviews for all candidates: Set a defined approach for all interviews irrespective of the role, title and function. Every candidate should have consistent experiences at each touch points within your organization irrespective of the person interviewing. Today each person who experiences you organization’s interview process may or may not be selected and working with you but imagine this person could be your future client too, who knows the world is too small. If not at least you have created a brand experience for him for lifetime.
Make data integration a priority in your interviewing process: At the onset, it’s important that all interviewers are on a similar ground and that is where data integration plays an important role. Ensure that all interviewers gather and discuss the candidate behavioral information gathered across interviews to reach a consensus on interviewing ratings and the final hiring decision. It can be done in-person or remotely. The important point is that it is done. You will see a dramatically improved quality/accuracy of your hiring decisions. This also gives you a chance to better identify candidates who will be a cultural fit for the organization. You have consensus from all stakeholders and hence it is no longer a HR only initiative and responsibility. The reporting manager and his manager both would now be on the same page knowing the future candidates potential to perform and hence you know what best you can plan for his onboarding and future development together. Last but not the least, this will give your interviewers a chance for best practice sharing and also learn what another interviewer may not have gathered during his interview.
Leverage the research: The roadmap to train interviewers to conduct high quality behavioral interviews is very clear. More than 45 years of research at DDI tells us that behavioral interviews not only produce the best validity, but also the best candidate experience. Additionally sharing data with other interviewers in a structured data integration session will improve the accuracy of your interview decisions by two to three times.
Customize your interviewing system to your organization and its unique needs: Every organization is different and so is your need. Customize your system to suit your industry requirement. Targeted questions, building up the success profiles the competencies that matter to each role everything is different. Practice is the key, skill practice training tailored to your organization and/or targeted roles will further add value in designing the overall system.
Utilize multiple training modalities to meet the different needs of interviewers: We all are different and so are our learning styles. We recommend you tailor training to participant needs in order to develop knowledge and skills by using multiple training modalities for your interviewers like classroom, web, virtual, mobile, social and automated simulations basis your audience interest level. This will not only help your audience stay engaged and interested but at the same time these experienced line mangers will be your brand ambassadors helping you spread the word of mouth and market your efforts.
Treat interviewer skill development as a journey rather than an event: Like all training sessions, don’t leave this to fate by treating this as an event. Ensure your plan is a journey for your interviewer training, which includes formal training, skill application during actual interviews, peer/manager feedback on use of skills during data integration discussions and the most important, which most of us miss out is the skills refreshment post training that helps in reinforcement. Remember, practice makes a man perfect and the simple mantra here is Practice! Practice! And Practice! Each time you do it you master it from the previous one. If nothing else you have at least sharpened the axe.
Measure the impact of your change initiative: If You Can't Measure It, You Can't Manage It. Ensure you determine the most efficient and accurate way to gather program impact data. This could be focusing on the most common new hire metrics (quality of hire, time to productivity, turnover and customer satisfaction, etc).