Get Your Interview Team on Board

March 4, 2019

For hiring managers and talent acquisition leaders, building a winning interview team and communicating effectively with everyone involved are vital parts of the hiring process.

Selecting interview panel participants, distributing materials, sharing feedback and working together to make hiring decisions will yield the best results for your organization — talented individuals in line with your day-to-day needs, long-term business goals and overall company culture.

• Wisely select your interview team. Usually, a member of the talent acquisition or recruiting team will be the first person to interact with candidates. Once candidates for a particular role are identified, the hiring manager should partner with the talent acquisition lead to help identify the interview team.

The hiring manager or direct supervisor should be part of the core interview team — they best understand the responsibilities of the role and the structure of the team. Also include a member of the team you’re hiring for. Peers will have a unique understanding of the team culture and dynamic. Sometimes, it is helpful to include a colleague from a different team, too, in order to avoid in-group favoritism.

Some PR agencies will also allow a client’s in-house PR or marketing contact to meet with a candidate, if the position will primarily support a major account. A member of the firm’s leadership or executive team should join the final round of interviews with the top contenders for the position.

• Keep diversity top of mind. Carefully consider the diversity of your panel (gender, ethnicity, etc.). Diversifying an interview team helps tackle unconscious bias and also presents your organization as one that is committed to fostering diversity within their ranks.

According to a LinkedIn blog post by Maxwell Huppert, in 2014, Intel began requiring that interview panels include at least two women or members of underrepresented communities. Since then, their diversity numbers have increased significantly across all demographics.

• Clearly communicate what you’re looking for in a candidate, and give everyone the opportunity to review all of the candidates available. Once you have your interview team, make sure that everyone participating in the process understands what you’re looking for in a candidate. Give the team a chance to review the position description and ask questions. Think about the characteristics and skills that will make someone a good fit at your organization, with your clients and on your team.

The talent acquisition professional working with you will typically provide a dossier of a candidate’s materials. Take a good look at their résumé, samples and notes from the initial interview conducted by a recruiter before you meet the candidate. Let the interview team review all of these credentials as well. This ensures that everyone can develop thoughtful questions beforehand and maximize their time with the candidate.

As a team, prepare for the interview. Think about the questions that the group will focus on and be prepared to answer the candidate’s questions, too. Use the same form of measurement on each candidate in order to ensure that they are treated fairly.

• Share feedback promptly. Interview teams should write up their individual feedback no more than a day after the interview takes place, which allows for reflection and keeps the conversation top-of-mind. Make sure that your write-ups are consistent and structured, making it easier to compare notes on all candidates. Speak from your own voice. Avoid making absolute statements without adding your rationale. Review your notes as a group.

Keeping your interview team on the same page throughout the entire process will allow things to run smoothly, and will also ensure that the best possible hiring decisions are made — together.

Christina Stokes

Christina Stokes is the vice president and director of talent acquisition at Rubenstein. She is passionate about refining and enhancing employee engagement, company culture, and diversity and inclusion efforts. Twitter: @NewYorkRoses.


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