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As more organizations turn their focus toward economic recovery, they will also want to focus on having the right employees. A few weeks ago, we talked about the importance of compliance – especially applicant postings – when it comes to recruitment. But it’s equally important to talk about one of the most visible and time-consuming steps in the hiring process – the interview.
I know the labor market has been all over the place the past couple of years, but I think it would be fair to say that the average time to fill an open position is at least 6 weeks, with over half of that time being related to interviewing. Here’s a quick (but realistic) breakdown:
- HR and hiring manager meet to discuss job requirements during intake interview (.5 week)
- HR works on sourcing and screening candidates (1.5 weeks)
- Hiring manager interviews candidates (2-3 weeks)
- HR and hiring manager conduct background checks and make final candidate selection (1 week)
- Candidate considers and accepts offer (.5 week)
- Candidate resigns, works out notice period, and then starts (2 weeks)
I know many organizations are faced with quite a few job openings right now. And other organizations are looking to build their candidate pipelines in anticipation of future hiring needs. This could be a perfect time to do an interview skills training refresher for hiring managers.
It’s easy to overlook a refresher session for interview skills training because we often refer to an interview as simply a “conversation”. And while that’s true, we can’t make the assumption that interview conversations are easy or that they don’t require planning. An interview skills training refresher is an opportunity to do three things.
- If you’ve been holding off on training for the past few months, a refresher session could be a way to provide new hiring managers with a mini training prior to attending the “in-depth” training program (scheduled for a later time).
- There are managers who haven’t conducted an interview in months. A mini session would allow them to refresh their skills in a safe environment. Don’t assume that managers wouldn’t be open to this. They might be reluctant to go to HR for fear that they will be judged as “not paying attention” during the original interview skills training program that happened a few years ago.
- And for everyone in the company, it ensures that hiring managers and HR are on the same page when it comes to the hiring process. Better to confirm the details early rather than holding up an offer to an excellent candidate later.
3 Topics for an Interview Skills Training Refresher
Refresher training isn’t supposed to be the full training session. Organizations need to prioritize what will be included. Here are 3 topics to consider including in an interview skills refresher training session.
TOPIC #1 – Don’t skip the recruiting strategy meeting (aka the “intake” meeting). This is the meeting between HR and the hiring manager about the job. It covers not only the job requirements, but also what sourcing strategy will be used to fill the position. The intake meeting is also a good time to remind hiring managers about the importance of the candidate experience.
For example, I’m seeing an increasing number of organizations displaying posters that express their commitment to inclusiveness and belonging. The interview conversation allows the manager to turn those words on the poster into reality. Candidates want to know that they feel welcome at work and can be themselves.
Even when the organization has positions that they regularly recruit, the intake meeting is an opportunity to ensure that HR and the hiring manager are on the same page. Because when they’re not, it can create delays in hiring. And those delays are costly.
TOPIC #2 – Remember to ask compliant and effective interview questions. Behavioral interviewing questions are commonly used to gain insights into a candidate’s previous experience. The way to craft a behavioral interview question is using the STAR Method. STAR is an acronym that stands for situation, task, action, and results.
For example, if the hiring manager says “Tell me about a time when you calmed an angry customer.” Then we want to hear (S) what the situation was, (T) what the task was you had to complete, (A) what action you took, and finally (R) what was the end result. Not only can the STAR Method be used to write behavioral interviewing questions, but it can also help interviewers make sure they hear the complete story from a candidate. Using the example above, if the candidate explains the situation, the task, and the action, but forgets to share the result, then the interviewer can say, “Thanks for sharing. And what was the final outcome?”
Reminding everyone of the purpose of asking good (and legal!) questions as well as follow up questions will provide the right information to make the best hiring decision.
TOPIC #3 – Take time to select the best candidate. One of the challenges that recruiters and hiring managers face during the hiring process is being able to move past their biases to select the best candidate for the job. Organizations need to provide managers with education that will help them recognize their unconscious biases and provide steps for overcoming them.
Our friends at HRdirect offer an online training program called “Diversity & Inclusion at Work: Unconscious Bias Training for Employees”. This program – which can also be used as part of the organization’s diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) efforts – is focused on understanding and overcoming unconscious bias. The program is offered in two formats: one that’s compatible with your organization’s learning management system (LMS) and the other is a web-based version. The entire training is self-paced, approximately 30 minutes, and delivered in 3 microlearning modules. There’s also quiz at the end of each module to reinforce the learning.
In my work experience, I’ve seen hiring managers rush through the hiring process because they need to fill the opening asap. It’s important to make sure that when we’re trying to do things quickly, we don’t let our biases negatively impact the outcome.
An Organized Recruiting Strategy Will Benefit the Interview Process
Organizations cannot afford to have a disorganized recruitment strategy right now. Because if they do, the result will be that the best talent gets hired by the competition. Find time to give everyone involved in the recruitment process a refresher focused on the three key components of excellent hiring: 1) having an understanding of the job you’re recruiting for, 2) doing a thorough job of interviewing candidates, and 3) selecting the most qualified person for the job. The organization will see immediate benefits for it.
P.S. If you would like to learn more about how the organization’s DE&I efforts can prevent costly and time-consuming discrimination claims, watch this on-demand webinar focused on “Diversity, Inclusion & Bias in the Workplace: Legal and Practical Guidelines for Today’s Employers”. Creating a work environment where every employee feels respected and included is good for everyone.
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