How Do You Train a Manager For an Interview?

Eric Mochnacz
October 7, 2022

Human Resources is most effective in an organization when it has the opportunity to work with other internal stakeholders to execute people processes throughout the employee lifecycle.  Managers will be responsible for supervising new hires, so it’s common sense to train and integrate them into your company’s recruiting and interview process. By training managers on how to effectively interview, you are driving cross-functional collaboration, providing job-relevant training, and encouraging buy-in into HR practices. By delegating interviewing responsibility to hiring managers, HR can shift their focus to other strategic initiatives to drive the business forward that may have gone ignored because they were the only skilled interviewer in the organization. 

In this blog, we review the importance of training hiring managers in proper interviewing techniques and the direct benefits to your business and hiring process.

The Importance of Training Managers For Conducting Interviews

With Human Resources having responsibilities across all business functions, it’s important to consider ways they can share their knowledge across the organization. By training managers in interviewing skills and techniques, you create shared responsibility in recruitment outcomes.  Involving managers in the hiring process avoids requiring HR to act as the sole decision-maker in hiring and encourages diversity of thought in your company’s hiring decisions.  

And although interviewing typically is HR’s responsibility, if your company has high volume recruitment needs, delegation to hiring managers is critical. By providing interview training and skilling up your leaders, HR has the bandwidth to address other critical people initiatives and their other job responsibilities. There is immense value in having people at all levels of the organization involved in the hiring process for productivity’s sake. Your company can meet your ambitious workforce goals without sacrificing HR’s ability to meet other strategic people’s goals.

Tips For Training Managers For Interviews

Red Clover has direct experience in helping small and medium-sized businesses build out their recruitment processes and training their managers in effective behavioral interviewing techniques. It’s all part of our proven process for recruitment process outsourcing, and we’ve seen positive results when we train managers on interviewing skills, provide them with a list of interview questions, and involve them in hiring decisions. It allows us to focus on other aspects of the consulting engagement with the trust that your company’s hiring managers are executing a compliant and effective interview process. So, how do we do it?

Utilize Behavioral Interviewing

Behavioral interviewing (BI) is based on the theory that the best indicator of future performance is past behavior. Behavioral interviewing questions are curated to allow candidates to provide specific examples from their work history that apply directly to the role you’re hiring for. Rather than ask hypothetical or philosophical questions, you ask questions to make objective, position-related observations about the candidate because they are more likely to provide job-specific examples in their answers.  

We develop question sets based on core competencies we’ve assigned to the role, often done through an iterative conversation with the manager and people currently in the role. We work with the hiring manager to thoroughly understand the role and to make sure we are asking the right, competency-based questions to affirm someone’s ability to do the job. We involve your hiring managers in every step of the process, not just the interviews, to create a sense of ownership and further support their autonomy and leadership. This knowledge transfer also allows the business to scale quickly, because we share our knowledge, and step out to focus on other people processes because your managers are prepared to execute independently of our involvement.

Avoid Bias

Interview training helps managers understand the practical aspects of interviewing, but they also need to understand the abstract concepts related to effective recruitment, and interview bias.  Biases naturally exist, and part of effective interviewing training is helping managers understand how they can actively work to avoid those biases. Understanding the different biases that interviewers may have, and addressing them, helps you minimize risk in your recruitment process.  

Below are some interview biases we help companies avoid by training them in behavioral interviewing as part of our proven process: 

  • Stereotyping – Making assumptions and judgments about someone based on how they present and/or a group they belong to, rather than on individual characteristics.
  • First Impression – Basing a decision on someone’s first impression.
    • Examples – “I know if someone is a right fit within the first minute of meeting them”, “I won’t hire anyone who doesn’t have a firm handshake”, or “They had technical difficulties with their Zoom”.
  • Halo effect – The candidate says something amazing, so you view all other responses with an overly positive lens (a halo.)
  • Horn effect – The opposite of the halo effect. The candidate says something incorrect, misspeaks, or says something you don’t agree with, and then you assign your reaction to the rest of their answers.
  • Non-verbal bias – Judging a candidate by their non-verbal cues, recognizing that the candidate may be nervous, neurodivergent, and have potential cultural differences that impact their non-verbal behaviors.
  • Contrast effect – Judging candidates based on the performance of the person before them. If you’ve had a poor interview, and the next one is mediocre, it may seem great compared to the first interview.  
  • Affinity bias – Responding more positively to candidates who are similar to you.  When we talk about DISC and Driving Forces, it can be common for leaders to respond more positively to those with similar profiles to them.
  • Central tendency – When you’re looking for the unicorn and find fault with every candidate you meet; they all seem like “middle of the road” candidates.

Body Language Awareness

As outlined above, non-verbal bias potentially adversely influences someone’s hiring decision.  Hiring managers need to understand the importance of understanding body language within the context of the interview and the interviewee’s experience. For example, someone who is neurodivergent may struggle with making eye contact, and we shouldn’t use that as an elimination criterion in an interview process. Or someone’s cultural norms may prohibit them from shaking hands. As part of comprehensive interview training, HR acknowledges these potential situations and helps hiring managers understand how to adjust their expectations appropriately.  

Generally, we want someone’s body language to indicate interest in the position and the company. We also want our body language to indicate openness and a willingness to engage in the conversation. Our ability to respond positively to a candidate through our body language creates a more positive interview experience. With the advent of remote and hybrid work, we also have to train ourselves to be more effusive in our body language, so candidates can still see we are engaged through a video screen or a phone call. Being mindful of how we present ourselves has a positive impact on candidate experience, so we make sure your managers are ready to cultivate a positive, inclusive interview experience.

Work With a Professional

Why not work with experienced professionals who’ve done this before? Interviewing is fraught with risk, and a poor interview experience can have a long-lasting impact on your employer’s brand. Work with the professionals in developing a company-specific recruitment process where we work hand-in-hand with your hiring managers to prepare them to interview effectively.  Has this piqued your interest? Reach out to us today!

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The Results

Construction and Contracting

A commercial roofing contractor was in hyper growth mode. They had goals to increase their field workforce to expand their service area to additional states and geographical locations. If they were to grow their field workforce, they would also need to increase their administrative, operational and sales headcount to support the additional workload created by increased field work. Additionally, they were challenged in workforce retention and development, experiencing high turnover, and did not have a dedicated Human Resources professional to manage employee relations and compliance issues that come with trying to scale a business.

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