In HR, we are often asked to provide Interview Skills training for new managers to help prepare them for their new role. New managers are generally eager to learn and while maybe a bit nervous at first, can become effective interviewers with practice. We spend a lot of time with new managers and supervisors because we know they need guidance.
Unfortunately, we don’t always remember to spend time with our experienced managers to make sure their interviewing skills are staying current with changes in the workplace environment. If you have people that have been interviewing for 2 months or 20 years, you want to be sure they are up to date with legal requirements and modern techniques to make their interview process as productive as possible.
Watch out for discriminatory processes - many states have implemented legislation related to restrictions on disclosure of pay and criminal history on job applications. Some traditionally common pre-employment practices like assessments and physicals may no longer be permissible if there is not a job related reason for the practice.
Stay updated on protected class information and how that translates to interview questions - protected classes have expanded both at federal and state level over the years so it has become increasingly more important to provide interviewing compliance updates on a regular basis to make sure that managers know what questions they can and cannot ask and why. Sometimes it is the best of intentions such as being friendly and making small talk, that end up crossing the line of appropriateness in the workplace. Other times, it can be more a case of breaking old habits from asking questions that may have been permissible years ago but are no longer allowed.
Finally, understanding the different types of questions to ask and why some questions are better to ask than others. Not all questions invite an applicant to talk openly so you may need to be skilled at prompting information out of the applicant to determine if they are a good fit for the job and the company. Over time and even just frequent hiring periods, it is easy to get into a routine of standard questions that may not always provide the best opportunity to get to know the applicant’s past experiences and thought processes. Worst case scenario would be to be stuck back in the time of “traditional “ questions that can be practiced and flawlessly delivered in the interview. The downfall of those well-rehearsed answers is the applicant you interview may not be the applicant you actually hire!
Discriminatory practices and interview methods (whether intentional or not) can result in lawsuits, fines, mandatory job offers, and all the bad publicity social media can produce so it benefits every employer to stay informed. Interviewing is not a perfect science no matter how long they have been a manager, and there will always be times when you miss something. Interviewing is like most other skills, with practice and feedback - the more skilled you become. And the more skilled you become, the less you put your company at risk and the more likely you will be to identify great candidates to build a stronger team.