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Interview Training Tips to Tackle 3 Common Hiring Challenges

October 24, 2017

There are many resources that provide tips and guidance for interviewees to overcome challenges in an interview. However, it is also important to note that the interviewer also faces challenges. I’m sure everyone can think of one challenge that they struggle with when interviewing candidates. Whether it is for an entry-level position or an executive position, we all have obstacles. During one of our recent interview training workshops, recruiters and HR professionals shared common challenges they face when conducting interviews. It’s important to know how to overcome these challenges because a poor fit can be very costly to any organization. The interview is usually the final step before making an offer and the last chance to gather data about a candidate before a decision is made. 

interview training.jpgThree common challenges participants said they faced during interviews include staying on topic, detecting honesty, and taking notes. If you find that you can relate to any of these challenges, we have good news! We have a few simple tips you can follow. Even if you don't face these challenges, these tips will help keep your interview process legally defensible, efficient, and effective. 

CHALLENGE #1: It’s hard to redirect the conversation and stay on topic.

We can all think of a time when we were interviewing a candidate and he or she kept going off topic or not answering the question. Since a structured interview includes questions intended to assess for specific competencies, if the candidate (or the interviewer!) keeps going off topic, it’s hard to accurately rate for those competencies. You might end up having an hour-long conversation with a candidate but, in the end, still not be able to determine if he or she will be a good fit.

TIP: Give an overview of the interview so the candidate knows what to expect.

Give the candidates an overview of how long the interview should last and inform the candidate before you begin that you may need to redirect the conversation due to time constraints. This gives the candidate a heads up that you may need to politely interject to stay on task. Since you already stipulated the parameters of the interview, you don’t need to feel uncomfortable by asking the candidate to stay on track.

TIP: Ask two questions per competency.

It will also be helpful to ask at least two questions per competency. A candidate may go off topic on the first question, but by asking a second question, you'll have another opportunity to collect data around the competency.

CHALLENGE #2: I don’t always know if the candidate is being honest or telling me the full story.

Most of us have been here. Have you ever interviewed a candidate and had a great conversation so you hired them only to realize that they were not a good fit or they quit within a few months? Maybe they indicated that they had experience doing a certain task or have great organizational skills, but you find out they are lacking in these important areas once they're on the job. Looks like the candidate was not so honest during the interview.

TIP: Ask probing questions to your past behavior questions.

Past behavior questions are the best types of questions to ask during an interview because past behavior predicts future behavior. In addition to the past behavior questions, it’s helpful to already have follow up or probing questions written down that you can ask during the interview. This will help you determine if a candidate is being honest. When asking probing questions, you are searching for more details about a specific situation. From a candidate perspective, it’s difficult to lie or stretch the truth when being asked about specific details around a certain situation, so when asking about those details, you’ll be able to make a better rating around that competency.

CHALLENGE #3: It’s difficult to take notes during the interview.

Taking notes can be a struggle for many interviewers because knowing exactly what is important to write down can be a challenge. When interviewing many candidates in a short timeframe, taking notes is especially important to ensure you can refer to an accurate picture of the interview. 

TIP: Only write down job relevant information and abbreviate.

It’s important to note that you don’t need to write down everything that the candidate tells you during the interview. In fact, you only want to write down job-relevant information. A good rule of thumb is to only write down enough information to recall the candidate’s response.

BONUS TIP: Be Consistent!

This is a tip that can help with almost any interview challenge you face. Consistency is very important throughout the entire hiring process. To be consistent, you should ask all candidates (who are interviewing for the same position) the same questions around the same competencies. By doing this, you are measuring candidates against the same criteria and thereby, keeping your process legally defensible.

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Rachel Reid Rachel Reid is a Consultant based in the Pittsburgh office of PSI. She supports clients in varying industries and has expertise in selection and development assessments, job analysis, validation, interview training, and the candidate experience. She has been involved with multiple criterion-related validation studies as well as the creation, development, and validation of custom pre-hire assessments and technical knowledge tests.