Interviewing

A Guide to Interview Training for Hiring Managers and Employees

Implementing a new hiring process is a big deal, and mistakes carry a lot of weight. Negative interview experiences can make candidates hesitate to move forward, post a negative review online, tell their peers about their experience, or a combination of all three.
Daniel Jakaitis
Daniel Jakaitis
Implementing a new hiring process is a big deal, and mistakes carry a lot of weight. Negative interview experiences can make candidates hesitate to move forward, post a negative review online, tell their peers about their experience, or a combination of all three.

Implementing a new hiring process is a big deal, and mistakes carry a lot of weight. Negative interview experiences can make candidates hesitate to move forward, post a negative review online, tell their peers about their experience, or a combination of all three. So what can you do to prevent these disasters from happening?

But candidates should feel more excited after talking to an interviewer, not less. Excellent interviewers put candidates at ease, giving them the confidence that your company has their *stuff* together. Speaking with someone who has obviously read your resume, asks you insightful questions, and takes notes on your answers would feel pretty good, right?

Not many companies care enough to deliver such an attentive candidate experience, and that is exactly how you can set yourself apart. Transforming your employees into top-notch interviewers isn't fast or easy, but it’s well worth avoiding the time and cost associated with poor hiring decisions.

The key is preparation. In this piece, we’ll cover how to create a top-notch training program that will make your company look put together, improve your interviewers’ skills, and make great candidates more likely to convert.

Get Everyone on the Same Page

The truth is, you can’t just introduce a new way of doing things and expect everyone to care about getting good at it. First, your employees need to understand why you’re moving to competencies and structured interviews. Second, they need to know what kinds of benefits they should expect to see in terms of team performance, camaraderie, and culture as a result. And third, they need to feel like they have adequate training, tools, and resources.

The good news is that some of this education and convincing will already occur when you’re nailing down what competencies you want to use and getting everyone’s approval on structured interview questions. But it’s worth reinforcing since getting everyone on the same page contributes to a better candidate experience.

Define your Program

It’s impossible to hold interviewers to undefined standards. That’s why you need to define and create a training program. The curriculum for your program should serve as a guiding light for your interviewers, something that feels like an exciting onboarding presentation with subsequent sessions, SOPs, and opportunities to grow and practice. Here are a few things to include in your program:

  • An interviewing “playbook” that explains the interview process end-to-end (who does what and when)
  • Sample interview videos - what to do and what not to do
  • A rundown of potential legal issues that can arise in interviews and how to avoid them
  • A list of competencies and their definitions
  • A library of structured interview questions and what competencies they are related to
  • A guide to HR tooling used in the sourcing and interviewing process, such as your ATS, Chatkick, or Trinsly
  • A set of multiple mock interview sessions with HR or employees who are already trained and experienced in giving structured interviews

Start putting the people you know will be hiring soon through the curriculum once it’s ready. These people have likely given interviews before and will be curious about the new competency and structured interview paradigm. Pose it to them as a prestigious opportunity—once they get good at your interview process, they can train and certify others.

Samples of Top-Notch Hiring Programs

To illustrate what we mean by a hiring program, let’s walk through a few examples. Consider borrowing some of their approaches to ensure your training program aligns to your overall recruitment philosophy.

Amazon

You’re probably familiar with FAANG company interview processes, but the Amazon Bar Raiser Program goes above and beyond. Amazon has built an elite squad of hiring managers (only about 5,000 people) that has full veto power over any part of the interview and hiring process. Every year, people invited to participate in the Bar Raiser Program go through a certification process to learn the latest updates to Amazon’s interview process and to reevaluate and reemphasize Amazon’s high candidate standards. And the Bar Raisers aren’t just on the people team—they come from across the organization, serving as an auditing function to ensure Amazon continues to hire the best of the best.

Bridgewater Associates

If you’ve heard of Bridgewater Associates, you know that working at their firm requires a strong commitment to their one-of-a-kind culture, and very few are up to the challenge. This is why they’ve so meticulously designed their recruitment strategy. They train interviewers to pinpoint candidates who can not only deal with but flourish under the regular scrutiny inherent in Ray Dalio’s management philosophy.

Before each interview, Bridgewater employees conduct one and a half-hour-long personality tests. Candidates run through a whole host of scenario-based questions. Only if they achieve a certain score can they move on to a take-home technology assessment, which tests a candidate’s ability to make tough decisions quickly. But the assessment doesn’t end when the candidate turns it in. Instead, a set of managers reviews the candidate’s results live, asking them why they made certain decisions and telling them why they agree or disagree with the candidate’s approach.

Training Bridgewater employees to ask these difficult, candid questions allows the firm to truly test candidates’ ability to handle radical truth. Emphasizing Bridgewater’s intense culture from the get-go and throughout the entire process guarantees that they hire people who are not only capable of doing the job, but also an ideal fit for the company’s culture.

Adopt a Coaching Model

Training shouldn’t be limited to hiring managers. Everyone should run through your interview curriculum一even junior employees. Eventually, you want to get to the point where you can trust lower-level team members to run a bulk of your screening calls.

And what’s the most efficient way to do this? Identifying your best interviewers and turning them into coaches.

Every time a new batch of people goes through the training program, set them up with a coach. This person will conduct their mock interviews, watch and critique future interviews, and give tips based on what they’ve learned works well. Not only does this model give seasoned employees the chance to mentor someone, but it also helps less experienced staff grow their interviewing skills faster.

Gauge Interviewer Performance

Your goal should be to make each candidate’s experience as consistent as possible. To do that, your interviewers need to operate the same way. They should be evaluating candidates against the same competencies, using the same structured interview format, and they should be using similar techniques to make candidates feel welcomed and comfortable. Even if you bring these elements up during interviewer training, it’s easy to let best practices slide during a real interview.

To reinforce good interviewing skills, schedule one-on-one sessions with each interviewer to talk about their performance. Just like when you deliver any feedback, have solid examples ready and explain exactly what the interviewer did well and what they can improve upon. To make this easier on everyone, consider using a tool like Chatkick. Chatkick automatically records interviews and provides helpful metrics like total talk time, structured question completion rate, candidate disruption, and more. Setting interviewer KPIs and measuring their progress through software like Chatkick helps interviewers reach their goals一and your overall company goals一faster.

Iterate

We’ve said this more than once, but it bears repeating: Your program won’t be perfect when you launch it. Many HR managers themselves have never had any formal interviewer training, so expecting your training program to get up and running quickly isn’t realistic. It took years for Amazon and Bridgewater to establish the recruitment processes they have now, and their processes are likely still evolving. The key to their success is to gather feedback and measure your results. Taking a step back every month or every quarter to reevaluate your training program is vital to getting and staying ahead of the curve.

Take Your Interviewers to the Next Level

Candidates should feel more excited after talking to an interviewer, not less. Excellent interviewers put candidates at ease, giving them the confidence that your company has their *stuff* together. Speaking with someone who has obviously read your resume, asks you insightful questions, and takes notes on your answers would feel pretty good, right?

Not many companies care enough to deliver such an attentive candidate experience, and that is exactly how you can set yourself apart. Transforming your employees into top-notch interviewers isn't fast or easy, but it’s well worth avoiding the time and cost associated with poor hiring decisions.

Chatkick is here to help. With built-in collaborative comment systems, recording, and transcription features, Chatkick makes it easy to pinpoint where interviewers might be falling short of expectations and measure their improvement over time. To learn more about how Chatkick can level up your interview training program, request early access to Chatkick today.