How to get the least from a team interview

Recently I was teaching a class regarding the fundamental management skills and I was asked by one of the participants about the pros and cons of having different people around the organization interview an employment candidate. The woman who asked said that she found it to be one of those ideas which are nice in concept but a waste of time in "the real world."As we discussed it, it became clear that her company's approach was typical to how many organizations use the so-called 360 degree interview technique. I said that I agreed with her opinion - the way they used the approach was pretty useless. It provided them minimum return for maximum investment.

Their approach started OK - they'd identify a candidate who seemed to have the requisite job skills, bring her or him in for a preliminary screening interview, and if the individual seemed to have the right stuff overall, they'd then schedule a series of meetings for others in the organization to check them out.

The benefits of doing this are:

  • Individuals within the organization can see if they believe the candidate can do the job technically as well has being able to predominately
  • The people who will be working with this new person can see if he/she is going to fit in. One may have the technical skills but the personality of a bull elephant - not going to make it obviously.
  • The people in other departments get to meet a new employee whom they may not otherwise get to know, this facilitates interoffice or interdepartmental communications.

But done improperly, this approach can be a major waste of time. And the woman in my class explained how they took a good idea and wasted it:

  • They failed to give the interviewers any information about the candidate beyond the resume.
  • They didn't give the interviewers any sort of "supervisor's overview," meaning an informal explanation of what they are looking for in the new hire with regard to the job to be done, who the new person would interact with, and nice-to-have skills or traits
  • In some cases the interviewers didn't even get a job description for the job to be filled
  • There was no "check list" for the interviewer to quickly fill in to get an assessment to the hiring supervisor. Without this, the supervisor had to rely on the interviewer to take the time to write out something and send it back - in a busy organization, this often didn't occur. I like lists which provide the review with a number scale system such as 1 to 5, with 5 being the best.
  • There was no formal correlation of all the interviewers' reviews to see if there was a consensus regarding positives or negatives

Consequently, people were interviewed by people who were unsure about what the company wanted in a new hire, and often their comments were poorly communicated back to the hiring manager. A lot of effort and time with little benefit.

Bottom Line: Hiring interviews that use people in other departments and people at levels above and below the role to be filled - if managed properly - will provide the hiring supervisor with a much better chance of hiring someone who is going to fit in and succeed. Done without structure, they are a waste of time and energy.

- john

  Success Coach