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How to Avoid This Big Interview Mistake

When it comes to finding new talent, making sure they fit in with a company’s culture and core values has become an important part of the interview process. Why? Because your culture is a reflection of the character, personality, strengths and weaknesses of your people.

Finding people who are fully committed and engaged with your vision and ideals is critical to both your company’s success and your employees’ job fulfillment.

Peer interviews are a common hiring practice for many businesses because teams can determine whether a candidate is right for the position and the culture. However, there are some pitfalls to be aware of, especially for fast-growing companies that need to hire quickly.

Online shoe retailer Zappos compares its hiring process to courting: Before making any hiring decision, multiple Zappos employees will meet with a candidate to make sure he or she is a good fit.

The Issue

The biggest hazard of peer interviews is that many front-line employees don’t actually know what they can and cannot ask in such a setting. If they ask questions related to things like a candidate’s age, gender, marital or family status, religion, disability or medical history, race or origin, it could open you up to discrimination claims in your hiring process.

Sounds like a no-brainer, but when’s the last time you checked to make sure your company’s peer interviewers have all been formally trained?

It is easy to see how someone could ask the wrong question, when you consider that many of today’s go-to social conversation starters include such seemingly innocuous inquiries as, “Are you married?” or “Do you have kids?” or “Where are you from?”

Even hiring managers have trouble. In a 2015 survey released by CareerBuilder, 20 percent of hiring managers said they have asked an illegal question in an interview.

So how do companies minimize their risk? They start with these two fundamental steps:

1. Standardize Your Interview Process

In other areas of your business, you put procedures and processes in place to reduce risk and guarantee consistent, quality results. Structuring your interview process can help you do the same for your hiring. Standardizing interview times and questions for everything from phone interviews to panel or final peer interviews can help create a positive, unbiased candidate experience for your applicants and keep you from making a wrong hire.

2. Train Managers and Employees Alike

It’s also important to make sure that any hiring manager or peer who interviews an applicant for your company is consistently trained on:

  • Hiring practices and criteria
  • Areas of liability for both federal and state regulations
  • Reducing unconscious bias

If you don’t know who has been trained and who has not, learning management solutions can help you quickly deliver and track course completions so you know who should (and should not) sit in on interviews for your company.

Hiring well is so important to your company, but the responsibilities that come with it often don’t just lie with your recruiters and your hiring managers. Helping all of your employees understand how important it is and the role that they play in it can improve your talent acquisition while limiting your liability.

About the author
Author picture, Tiffany McGowen
Tiffany McGowen
Tiffany McGowen, Paycom’s Vice President of Recruiting, is responsible for the oversight of staffing corporate headquarters and growing the nationwide sales force. She has more than 10 years of recruiting experience, ranging from executive-level talent to interns, with a specialty in sales professionals. Passionate about motivation, McGowen is constantly on a coast-to-coast hunt for the best and brightest talent in every market.