Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Train Your Interviewers!

So, you got a call from 'that' Company you were so eager to work for!

You believed that your work experience would make you an ideal-match for that company. You sent across your resume and as expected got through the initial rounds of resume screening/HR phone interviews successfully. Now, they want to meet you in-person for an entire day at their office. This would give their interview panel of 4-5 people (across levels) a good chance to get to know you well. Also, to ensure the grilling interview would help them in determining your ‘fitment’ into their organization.

The day arrives and you feel prepared to take on questions!

Round #1: You meet the first interviewer. The questions flow freely and so do the answers. You are told that your candidature suits the role perfectly! You are confident of a positive outcome!

Round #2: The questions delve deeper into your work experience, specialties, etc. Your area of expertise gets identified. Again you ace all the questions!

Round #3: The Subject Matter Expert (SME) for your area of expertise walks into the room. You notice a certain ‘look’ on the interviewer’s face and don’t like it. The looks tell you that the person has decided the outcome. The interview is just a formality which needs to be completed. No attempts are made to make you feel comfortable. The discussions starts and you start feeling pressurized to think of solutions the way the interviewer would have approached them. You’re getting the feeling of forcefully being ‘led’ in a certain direction - one that you don’t agree. At times, the interviewer gets aggressive. The discussion starts to veer towards an argument! You have no clue on what’s happening. The discussion ends and you are told – “Some one from HR (they don’t remember our names!) will get in touch with you are the next round”

Round #4: The business head wants to meet you! After all, he/she runs the show for that department and they want the best for the team. Talks go smoothly and you feel back-on-track! ‘The HR Person’ is up next.

Round #5: ‘The HR person’ does the final round and takes some notes on your role fitment, salary details, etc.

Interview Result: The wait for the results lasted for over a week. A mail was sent to you informing that you didn’t get through!!! Apparently, Interviewer #4 didn’t like you much! The feedback was that you are not ‘up-to-the-mark’. You are stunned! What happened? You were the ‘ideal’ candidate for the role. Unfortunately, this situation does happen for real.

It’s unfortunate, but interviewers do make their share of mistakes too!

Reasons could be:

- Lack of training for interviewers: Not much time and money is spent on training interviewers. They are told to learn on-the-job from other interviewers! “Who has the time for training? Our daily work is run on tight deadlines!” - is the usual reason.

- Favoritism: it’s definitely bad! Candidates should be chosen based purely on merit and off course with a clean background (Ref checked!). However, it is obvious at times that interviewer’s do have a tendency to go with their favorite candidate.

- Unrealistic Expectations: If the role doesn’t involve creating rockets - then you don’t need scientists! Know what you need and then start the interview process. Else, you are wasting a lot of effort, time and money.

- Pressured to Hire ASAP

- Comparisons with Oneself: Interviews are not a place to check on skill-percentile-positioning!

- Depending heavily on First-Impression: First impressions are generally formed within 30 seconds of meeting a person. The next 30 minutes are spent in confirming the impressions! Stay away from it.

What’s the role of HR in fixing this problem?

To start with, sell the idea of ‘Interviewer Training’ to the management. Really! You’ll need a buy-in to even take the first-step. Training involves money; you’ll need to justify the spending. Use your best creative efforts! You don’tneed to learn rocket-science to find out the costs of a bad hire.

- The HR Store