It’s 2022 and we live in a candidate-first world. The great resignation (or the great reshuffling, depending on who you talk to) has made the candidate interviewing experience more important than ever, but 72% of engineering leaders agree that very few people at their company know how to conduct interviews. Even for hiring managers with the best intentions, a lack of interviewer training can result in poor outcomes, missed hires, and bias.
Over the course of hundreds of thousands of technical interviews, we’ve learned a lot about training interviewers. This lets us maintain the consistency needed for efficient, effective, and equitable hiring outcomes while creating an environment that enables candidates to demonstrate their best selves. Here are four tips for making your interviews more predictive, fair, and enjoyable in the new year.
4 tips for interviewer training
1. Designate a team of Software Engineers that want to interview
It’s easy for interviews to land on the laps of whoever is available, but it’s important to create a team of core interviewers who are invested in finding new talent and can be trained for consistency.
If you don’t have qualified volunteers, make sure your interviewers know this is a critical part of their job and not just an added responsibility haphazardly handed to them. Designating a team of Software Engineers that have enough knowledge and experience to be responsible for and dedicated to hiring engineers will allow for consistency, predictability, and a positive candidate experience.
2. Create questions and rubrics relevant to each role
Questions need to be vetted, consistent, and aligned to the core competencies required for each role. We’ve all been in an interview with someone that believes they have the ultimate qualifying question, but random questions create the potential for bias. A committee of engineers and hiring managers should work together to create clear, specific competencies that align to a position and map well to the job description.
The committee should then create questions that are leveled appropriately and an interview rubric that clearly describes the skills candidates demonstrate in the interview. Furthermore, interviewer training should ensure that interviewers can consistently deliver the questions in a clear way that puts candidates at ease and reduces ambiguity.
Interview training must also include teaching your interviewers how to use a structured interview rubric leaves little room for subjectivity and bias. Structured rubrics create a shared interview language that allows for more consistent reporting. Be sure to regularly review questions and discard any that get leaked or have too many flaws — no question will last forever.
3. Include interviewer training for different candidate personas
Your interviewers will undoubtedly come across many different types of candidates and they need to be prepared to interview anyone. Roleplay amongst the committee to get comfortable with any personality. Practice being a shy candidate, a know-it-all candidate, and an unsure candidate.
Have your interviewers take a mock interview with the committee, so they can remember what it’s like to be a candidate and have empathy for future candidates they will interview. Be sure to shadow interviews intermittently. Burnout is real and it’s important to ensure interviewers are representing your company and creating a positive candidate experience.
4. Hold interviewers accountable for sticking to the process when hiring engineers
If hiring is a core business priority, interviewing needs to be part of the software engineer’s job. As such, it should be part of the performance review. In addition to shadowing interviews intermittently, recording and reviewing interviews will ensure interviewers are adhering to the process and provide an opportunity for committee feedback, coaching, and improved interview training.
Be sure to survey candidates on their experience with your company as well, the candidate and the interviewer should leave the interview feeling positive regardless of next steps. Interviewing can be predictive, fair, and enjoyable–we promise!