The Easy Way to Improve Your Interviewing Skills

Most Topgrading companies conduct surveys every couple of years to provide managers feedback on how their teams view them. And a very consistent result over the years has been: Most managers are considered Only Fair or Poor as interviewers. In the hundreds of Topgrading Workshops we’ve held, we’ve asked managers to rate themselves as interviewers, and their average self rating is Only Fair. McGill University studies showed most interviewers arrive at hire/no hire decisions in … 4 minutes. Yes, FOUR minutes! Most managers attend one interviewing workshop during their career, but that’s it – they learn a few techniques, but don’t really master interviewing. That’s the bad news.

The good news is that Topgrading managers participate in a two-day Topgrading Workshop, but they never stop improving as interviewers. Step 8 of our Topgrading 12 Steps offers an effective way to ensure you grow as an interviewer and boost your hiring success:

Topgrading Hiring Step #8: Interviewers Give Each Other Feedback

About 250 of our managers have given each other constructive suggestions for improving their interviewing technique, using the Topgrading Interviewer Feedback Form. We can all benefit from just a couple of minutes of feedback from another interviewer, and doing this after the tandem Topgrading Interview makes a lot of sense.

— Kevin Silva, Former Senior Vice President of Global Human Resources, Argo

To begin, realize that Topgrading managers conduct interviews with a tandem partner – two interviewers. Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric, approved having two interviewers and GE’s success hiring and promoting people shot up to over 90%. Having two interviewers, therefore, provides a simple way for every interviewer to become better and better at interviewing.

Immediately following the interview, give each other a minute or two of feedback: “Pat, you did great at asking all the questions in the Interview Guide and you took a lot of notes, but maybe you were so conscientious, trying so hard to do a good job, that you seemed colder than the Pat I know. Specifically, you never called Joe, our interviewee, by name, and even when Joe related wonderful successes, you kind of frowned.”

We have a published Topgrading Interviewer Feedback Form with 39 interviewing techniques. To give you a feel for what feedback you’d give and receive in Step #8, here are some of the 39 interviewing techniques:

  • Greeting (warm, friendly, shake hands)
  • Rapport Building (necessary, but for only a couple minutes)
  • All Interview Guide Questions Asked
  • Interviewers Took Copious Notes
  • Effective Follow-Up Questions (probes reveal the “so what?”)
  • Warmth
  • Interviewer Controlled Interview
  • Interviewee Talked 90% of the Time
  • Breaks Taken
  • Inappropriate Humor Not Shown
  • Shock Not Shown
  • Points Summarized (every 15 minutes or so)
  • “Connecting” with Interviewee
  • Active Listening Used

The beauty of Step #8 is that clients report that their interviewers improve when they regularly get and give this feedback. And no tandem interviewer should be shy about getting constructive feedback or giving it. I do both, even after conducting 6,500 Topgradiing Interviews!

So, make it part of your Topgrading processes, part of your organizational culture, to assume that every manager can improve interviewing techniques and every manager will get and give feedback after every tandem interview.

To receive a copy of our Topgrading Interviewer Feedback Form, please email our team at [email protected].

Published April 22, 2014

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