HR Management & Compliance

Do You Train Supervisors to Ask the Right Questions?

Face-to-face interviews with job candidates help your supervisors choose the best-qualified people for the jobs they have to fill. A good interview should bring out a candidate’s strengths, weaknesses, and suitability for the job. Properly conducted interviews identify the kinds of employees you want and need for your organization, helping to develop a diverse and productive workforce.
Interviewing often starts as a basic communication process. It then grows in complexity as the job candidate progresses through the different hiring stages. The initial screening interview is usually conducted by an HR staff member. If the applicant appears qualified, the supervisor seeking to fill the position will typically conduct the next (and often final) interview. Interviewing obviously is a key aspect of the recruiting process but is not a skill that comes without practice.
It takes practice to fully realize the goals of an interview: to learn about the candidate, evaluate the candidate’s ability to perform the job, describe the job opening and your organization, and to answer the candidate’s questions.

Training Objectives

When a training session on interviewing skills is completed, trainees who interview job candidates will be able to:

  • Recognize legal and policy issues related to interviewing.
  • Identify styles and types of interviews.
  • Plan an effective interview strategy.
  • Develop good interview questions.
  • Conduct successful interviews.
  • Take precautions to prevent discrimination.

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Training Requirements

Although there are no laws that require you to train supervisors in interviewing skills, the ultimate success of your organization depends on all supervisors being effective interviewers.
At a minimum, supervisors who conduct interviews should know:

  • Legal and policy issues related to conducting interviews
  • Interview styles and types
  • How to plan effectively for successful interviews
  • How to develop useful interview questions
  • How to conduct and conclude interviews effectively
  • How to avoid discrimination in hiring

Trainer qualifications. Trainers should be familiar with the requirements of state and federal fair employment laws, your organization’s Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) policy, and your interviewing practices and procedures.
Audience. Training and information about interviewing skills should be provided to all supervisors.
Training frequency. Training should take place when any new supervisor begins work and whenever there are any changes in hiring policies or procedures. Supervisors should also receive periodic refresher training.

Training Tips

Here are some suggested activities to involve trainees by making the training as interactive as possible.

  • Ask trainees to talk about situations in which interviews made all the difference in their hiring decision. For example, perhaps an applicant looked really good on paper but was a disappointment in the interview. Or perhaps an application and résumé weren’t too inspiring, but the candidate’s real strengths and qualifications came shining through during the interview.
  • Review your organization’s EEO policy, highlighting provisions that apply specifically to interviewing. Materials to have on hand: Copies of your organization’s EEO policy.
  • Ask trainees to choose a specific job they supervise and spend 5 minutes writing interview questions for that job.
  • If your organization uses an interview evaluation form, distribute samples to trainees and discuss the form. Materials to have on hand: Samples of your organization’s interview evaluation form.
  • Ask for two volunteers to role-play a brief interview between a supervisor and an applicant in a wheelchair. Have the rest of the group comment on the supervisor’s performance.
  • Ask for two volunteers to role-play a brief interview between a supervisor and an applicant who appears from her attire, to be a Muslim. Have the rest of the group comment on the supervisor’s performance.

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The information in today’s Advisor is adapted from BLR’s PowerPoint® training session, “Interviewing Skills for Supervisors.”
In tomorrow’s Advisor, we’ll go over the legal issues involved in interviews, plus we’ll showcase a dynamic online resource that helps you train effectively on more than 100 key HR topics.