Table of Contents
Table of Contents
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What Is an Interview Guide?
Simply put, an interview guide is a set of predefined questions based on the type of interview to be conducted, i.e. a pre-screen or culture-based interview. The interview guide is provided to each interviewer as a way to make the decision-making process as consistent and valid as possible.
Although there are some benefits to hiring for culture fit, building a team too heavily based on it can result in competency gaps on your team. The solution is to balance hiring for fit with hiring employees who can add new competencies. The easiest way to accomplish this is through the use of interview guides.
Why Are Interview Guides Helpful?
An interview guide is designed to bring structure to a process that has frequently been left unchecked: the interview. This structure brings several benefits to every team who adopts it.
- Minimizes interviewer bias. By providing a framework from which to evaluate every candidate based on the job requirements, interviewers are less likely to let their biases determine which candidates are right for the job. Data drives more accurate decision-making.
- Equal comparison of candidates. Because they have all been asked the same questions and scored consistently, candidates are stacked and ranked equally based on the relevant data gathered as opposed to “gut feeling” or “instinct,” which does not provide fair and equal comparison but instead is based on whether an interviewer “liked” or “disliked” someone.
- Greater process efficiency. Interview guides remove the pressure of having to find interview questions prior to an interview or guess at whether candidate answers are good answers or not. Thus, interviewers spend less time on each interview, focusing only on what the interview guide is asking for. Hiring teams have faster response times and clearer communication to candidates, creating a better candidate experience.
- Making the best hire. When you structure your interview process using interview guides, you can ensure that you’re not only looking for someone who fits the role, but also someone who aligns with your culture and fills in competency and behavior gaps you have in your culture and team.
Necessary Elements of an Interview Guide
Every interview guide is dependent on one main element: question bundles. Question bundles contain the main interview question, context, clarifying questions, indicators, and scoring (all defined below).
Once you have the right question bundles, you can organize them into interview guides based on interview purpose and required criteria.
This is arguably the most important part of the interview guide. Finding the right questions depends on the predefined job qualifications and behavioral criteria of the role.
Next, it’s important to define why exactly we are asking each question. Sometimes the context is only for the interviewer; sometimes the context can be shared with the candidate.
Sample context for interviewers:
- Remember to tell the candidate how this question is relevant to the role.
- This is a yes/no question. Sometimes the candidate has some extenuating circumstances to discuss before they can answer.
Sample context for candidates:
- This role is responsible for [list responsibilities].
It is extremely important to anticipate gaps in candidates’ answers and help the interviewer fill in those gaps to avoid any assumptions. Predefining these clarifying questions ensures that interviewers are prepared to follow up and generate more clarity if an answer is vague or lacking in relevant data.
Indicators are the answers we want to hear (and sometimes the ones we don’t want to hear). They indicate whether the candidate has the qualities we are looking for. Indicators can be a specific skill or knowledge, i.e. a type of sales strategy like cold calling. Or they can be behavior-based, focused not on the actual situation being described by the candidate, but on the behavior we are looking for, i.e. accountability or good communication skills.
A score is a numeric value that gives you information about how the candidate measured up to the standard of evaluation. Each interview conducted and submitted contributes to the overall candidate score for the round. It’s important to design interview guides and rounds in such a way that your candidate scores are meaningful and reflective of whether the candidate can do the job they are interviewing for.
We want to get as much relevant information out of every interview as we can. Having a Notes section gives the interviewer an opportunity to add more in case the indicators do not cover everything.
Every interviewer should have a voice in the overall decision-making for the role. After all, we’ve asked them to be part of the process for a reason. Therefore, every interview guide should have a final section asking for a final recommendation from the interviewer on why or why not this candidate should continue in the process.
How to Create an Interview Guide
This process doesn’t start with putting a bunch of questions together. The creation of the interview guide relies on a hiring team coming together to analyze the job and define what success will look like when the right candidate is hired.
Step 1: Identify Your Team’s Culture and Find Your Gaps
Start by defining the key criteria that contribute to your overall team culture (for example, communication skills, self-management, or innovation). Then define the gaps you’re looking to fill with a new teammate.
Step 2: Define the Job Requirements
Every job has a minimum set of requirements that need to be met. These include experience, education, skills, and personal attributes. What are those for your open role? What are the criteria that you know your team can teach a candidate and therefore aren’t required? A well-written job description can begin this discussion.
Step 3: Group Your Required Criteria
Group your criteria by ability (skills and competencies), alignment (culture and behavior), and growth (stability potential and retention) categories. Then find the right questions and/or build question bundles (see above) that will help you evaluate candidates for each criteria.
Step 4: Create Interview Guides and Rounds
Organize your question bundles into interview guides, grouping them by ability, alignment, or growth.If you have nine criteria, we recommend that you focus each interview on two to three criteria at a time. You would group your nine criteria into three to four interview guides and therefore conduct three to four interview rounds.
Tips for Effectively Using an Interview Guide
Here are the steps to using an interview guide effectively. Companies should consider implementing interviewer training to help bring consistent and effective preparation to anyone involved in the hiring process. Preparing those employees for the responsibility of hiring new teammates is as important as interviewing is and deserves similar amounts of attention.
Tip 1: Candidate Information Review
Interviewers should review all relevant candidate information that has been prepared by a recruiter or hiring manager, such as information pulled from resumes or social or professional profiles, as long as this information aligns to the requirements of the role. Don’t include any data that isn’t relevant to the position.
Tip 2: Interview Guide Review
Just because the interview has been “prepared” ahead of time does not mean the interviewer shouldn’t review the guide before each interview. This helps ease any stress that comes with an interview.
Tip 3: Check Your Biases
It is very important for interviewers to be aware of what triggers their biases and when those biases may interfere with conducting a fair and equitable interview.
Tip 4: Share the Interview Guides with Candidates
Share the interview guide with candidates a few days prior to the interview. This will de-stress the experience for them; it’s like knowing the test questions before you take the test. Because you have already predefined the indicators you’re listening for, candidates cannot cheat in any way. This level of transparency creates such a great candidate experience that candidates will tell their friends about your company even if they don’t get hired.
Tip 5: Document in Real Time
Using an interview guide gives the interviewer the ability to document the interview as it happens. Your indicators can be checkboxes that can quickly be checked (or not) based on candidate answers. With real-time documentation, interviewers avoid recall bias, because if we rely on our memories, we often only remember what we liked or didn’t like about a candidate.
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Questions You’ve Asked Us About Interview Guides
UB leads interviewIA’s marketing and business development strategy through a constant state of innovation and “outside the box” thinking. He has taken his deep experience in client and customer solutions to build a company focused on people first, the value that every human brings to the table, and centered on belonging. UB is the “six degrees of Kevin Bacon” in the HR world. In the Malcolm Gladwell framework, he is the ultimate connector. UB has an intrinsic ability to span many different worlds through his combination of curiosity, self-confidence, sociability, and energy.