Cross-Functional Learning


Our well-rounded business content is designed for Leaders & Managers to implement change with ease & improve accountability amongst their teams. Here you'll find Articles from thought leaders in their fields, have access to practical Business Templates, learn new skills & expand on skills you already have. Stay informed & proactive...Join Us Today!

Join Now

Interview Intelligence-Part II: A More Effective Process

By Joseph Skursky (1862 words)
Posted in Human Resources on August 29, 2013

There are (0) comments permalink

Add to My Toolkit

Once you make a commitment to improving your interview intelligence, you need to ensure that your entire interview process sets up your company for maximum success. If you measure your progress with both the interviews and the process, you can simultaneously improve to create a well-oiled hiring system. 


Let’s talk about what doesn’t work very well, followed by a system that has been proven to work well for both small and mid-sized companies. 


Round Robin Interviews Just Don’t Work


Many companies use what I call a “Round Robin” approach to interviewing, meaning 3-5 groups of 2 people interviewing each candidate. This approach is rooted in the myth of safety in numbers, and often fails to fulfill the original goal of hiring top performers.


If safety in numbers really works, why don’t companies send 8 of their best sales people, one after another, to conduct sales interviews with a single prospect? If the fundamental element of a “good sale” is bonding and rapport, the probability of making a sale should go up, right? Except that bonding and rapport is broken with each new introduction. 


Bonding and rapport is just as critical in the interview process, not because the objective is to “like” the candidate, but to discover the underlying truth about whether competency, talent and fit actually exist. Building effective bonding and rapport allows the candidate to “loosen up” which reveals more of the things you really need to know before making a hiring decision. By switching interviewers so often, you thwart the intention of making better hiring decisions. 


The other problem with the Round Robin approach is that nothing is equal. A well-functioning executive team does not imply that everyone has the same level of interviewing intelligence, nor are their individual conclusions “equal” in the grand scheme. What this means is that Executive “A” may think the candidate is a good hire, influencing the other members of the team to some degree. The opposite is true in that Executive “C” may not feel the candidate is qualified – or is it that they don’t “like” them – and sway at least some other members of the team. But the real question is who achieved bonding and rapport enough to draw out the truth of qualification?


Solo Interviews Are Missing Something Too


While 1:1 interviews dramatically improve bonding and rapport, they miss the critical component of objectivity. At the point a person is engaged in questions with a candidate, they are almost 100% subjective. The loss of complete objectivity causes distortion in perspective, and this alone is a major factor in hiring mistakes. 


Even if you use assessments as part of your hiring process, and their objectivity is widely accepted based on the actual instrument, objectivity and perspective quickly diminish upon engaging in the interview dialogue. 


If you have no other choice than to interview 1:1, at least record the interview with audio or preferably video so you can review the interview at a later time with greater objectivity. Explain to the candidate that they are being recorded so you can remember everything in this very important hiring decision. Almost all will give you their permission if they understand the importance you place on the hiring process. 


Smaller companies often have few, if any, additional resources they can use effectively in the interview process. That doesn’t mean that they have to be forced into subjectivity. A little creativity can go a long way to provide safer hiring decisions. 


A More Effective Interview Process


Here’s another approach that may work better. Have a team of two people who are qualified by: 1. High Emotional Intelligence, and 2. High or improving Interview Intelligence. This is much like a military sniper/spotter team. In that scenario, the spotter is generally better than the shooter and can provide guidance to quickly achieve the objective. 


In a one-hour interview, have the best interviewer observe for the first 30-minutes while the other interviewer goes through the precursor questions of competency, talent and fit that have a deliberate purpose. This is an opportunity for the first person to develop bonding and rapport while allowing the objective observer to witness what “truth” is actually being displayed. 


At the 30-minute point, the best interviewer should ask the question about the candidate’s most significant accomplishment, followed by the deeper questions that reveal how the candidate thinks. This should last only 20 minutes, and gives the original interviewer an opportunity to be objective. 


In the final 10 minutes, the original interviewer can ask their own deeper questions based on information gathered through any part of the interview. Each interviewer must be clear about their role throughout the process, knowing when they are to interview and when they should observe. Tag-teaming in and out every few minutes breaks bonding and rapport which results in less useful information than desired.


Now Let’s Meet the Team


What about meeting the rest of the team? It’s still very important, particularly when recruiting executives or critical roles within the company, so let’s discuss the format.


The additional meetings with other team members should last only 20 minutes each and have only one of the sniper/spotter team in the room as an observer. Choose whoever gained the most bonding and rapport from the initial interview session to go with the candidate. 


In that meeting, the team member “interviewer” should ask only 1 interview question and this should be determined in advance to minimize redundancy across the team. We’ll cover more about how this interview should go in a moment. 


The observer should accompany the candidate to each meeting and remain with them throughout the process. There are two purposes for this:

  1. Preparing the candidate for each person so the introduction is as warm as possible, which will make for more productive 1-question interviews. If the team member is particularly intense or thought-provoking, a friendly advance warning will help both the team member and the candidate. Don’t miss this opportunity for early team building. 

  2. Gathering more information from the candidate because the talk is now “informal” between meetings as bonding and rapport increases. A lot can be learned during this time, so pay careful attention because the observer is still “on stage.” Be sure to allow enough time between these meetings (10-15 minutes is fine) so deeper, ongoing discussions can result. 


From the observer’s standpoint, this is an excellent time to seek more validation about the candidate’s true potential within the organization, both in terms of talent for the role and fit within the organization. 


On the subject of the team member, the question should be purposeful concerning their interaction with the role in question. An example of this is a CFO interviewing a General Manager asking about how they use and provide financial data within the role. These types of questions will not be as “deep” as the original interview, but they should focus on behavioral type questions with the ability to troubleshoot for any gaps that may exist as the two roles interact. 


Because of the low-key nature (relative to the initial interview) of the team member meeting, this is a great time for the team member to talk about the selling points of the company. Why is this better than either person from the sniper/spotter team who conducted the original interview? That’s because their “mission” remains clear about proper talent detective work and qualification, plus the candidate will hear a variety of perspectives about why the company is good to join. 


The Time Issue


The question arises quite often about, “Doesn’t this require a lot of time from one person to do the initial interview and spend even more time going from team member to team member?” It does, but consider the time that will be involved from all the team if the person hired is wrong for the role. 


Consider too that the amount of intelligence gathered by one expert with high interview intelligence will provide the clearest information possible when evaluating a candidate for a mission critical role. This is time well invested for making the right decision with minimal probability of error. 


Naturally, if you apply assessments to the process, the intelligence gathered is even greater and the downside risk further reduced based on the amount of opportunities to detect enough evidence to justify an effective hiring decision. Ultimately, you will also spend less time with fewer candidates if you use the assessments properly. 


You may have your own variation on this process, and that’s fine. Just consider the reasons behind the process described and document your results so you can consistently improve your hiring outcomes. Doing this in combination with developing your own interview intelligence will result in a highly refined and effective hiring system. 


While there are many other factors that add up to a long-term successful hire, such as onboarding and effective leadership, improving your interview intelligence and process will go a long way toward “fixing” a majority of the hiring problems that exist in today’s business world.  



{#/pub/images/JosephSkursky.jpg}Written by Joseph Skursky, President of Market Leader Solutions   

For almost 20 years, Joseph Skursky has been growing businesses and advising leaders in companies across North America. His model of Leadership, People, and Execution provides a clear roadmap to grow almost any business. It has been field-tested and proven effective for over 9 years. Joseph Skursky helps companies hire with confidence, manage without frustration, and increase both productivity and profitability. His “Hire Hard, Manage Easy” system  has earned the respect of colleagues and clients alike. More importantly, it delivers consistent results.


Do you have a question for Joseph?  Please visit our Human Resources Community, he will be happy to help: Ask an Expert


Did you find this story informative?  We would like the opportunity to keep you up to date on all of our training articles.  Please Sign Up for our newsletter so we can do just that. 

Here are some additional training articles you may be interested in: 

Hiring Manager Beware

Six Steps Managers Need To Follow When Hiring Junior Military Officers

THREE Reasons People Regret Taking a Job

Big Problems Require Big, Innovative Solutions

Hire Hard, Manage Easy: Committing to Higher Standards of Hiring

Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace

Five Steps Great Managers Take Before Letting Someone Go


ManagingAmericans.com provides Exclusive Management, Leadership & Cross-Functional Training in the form of articles, templates & webinars developed by Experienced Business Professionals & Expert Consultants sharing knowledge, success tips and solutions to common job issues. In addition to offering business assessments, and management consulting services, the site’s purpose is to mentor and develop professionals to be better leaders, managers, team players and individual contributors. Ultimately, helping people & businesses succeed via practical and actionable advice in a “do-it-yourself” environment.



Comments (0)

no comments posted

Leave a comment

Not a robot?