Job interviews often follow the path of (1) phone interview, (2) hiring manager
interview, (3) hiring manager’s boss interview, to (4) hired. This process works – if
each of the people know how to interview candidates and have
the technical knowledge of how work gets done in their department.
It doesn’t work out that way all the time.
I had a manager who thought he did a great job
interviewing (After all, he hired me so he must have excellent interviewing
skills!). Instead, of the three people he hired in a couple of months, two of
them were utter failures. (I was the grand success story. Of course.)
To his credit, he decided he was missing something
in the interview process. From then on, whenever interviews came up he had two
other people plus himself involved in the conversation. All the interviews were the same
day. Candidates interviewed the three people serially. This was not done using
dreaded panel interview.
At the end of the day, the three interviewers got together. The manager always made the hiring decision with our
input – sometimes over the strong objections of the others. But using this process, there weren’t any more poor hires.
Why’d this process work so well?
Different People Discover Different Characteristics
People interview with their own worldview in mind.
That creates blind
spots for each of us. Having three people conduct interviews helps cover your blind spots while you cover theirs. This gives you a more complete
picture of your potential co-worker and helps ensure the job skills are there
to do the work.
The process also helps decide how well the person
will fit with the manager and the team. This fit is important in determining
team success, because matter how strong the candidate, hurting the team effort is a slow-moving train wreck.
Poor Perceptions Eliminated
When we interview, we develop our
based on our questions and the candidate’s answers. Those perceptions lead to the
hiring decision. When a single person does the interviews, an incorrect
perception is easy to create. But when three people interview,
the incorrect perception is more difficult to create. In our post-interview discussions, one person would state a conclusion based on the interview, and the other two
would say they didn’t get that perception at all.
Then the questioning would begin: What did the candidate say to lead to that impression? What question did you ask that
elicited the response? What was the body language of the candidate? What were
the results in the candidate’s answer from your question?
In other words, you need to form the candidate
impression – and defend it. When you need to defend your impressions with
others, you carefully ask questions and listen to the answers to get it
right. Poor perceptions go out the window.
Good Feedback Builds Your Team
While candidates think the interview is all
about them, a side benefit is that a candid, professional discussion between the three people at the end of the day builds teamwork. After all, you’re not interviewing just one candidate one time. No, there are multiple candidates, so you do multiple interviews with the same three
people to find the right fit for the department. This exchange of views
between people builds the team, helps develop their job skills and supports
meeting department goals.
The multiple face-to-face interviews, then, can go a long way toward identifying the right person for the position. For candidates, the process gets rid of poor perceptions from one
interview, lets them showcase their business results to multiple people,
and gives them a better shot at understanding the culture of the
— Scot Herrick