How to build an interviewer training process that raises the bar

Camille Hogg

Camille Hogg

15 Jun 2022 • 6 min read

Most of us have a memory of a bad job interview experience — and you only need to check Glassdoor to find scores of candidate reviews echoing the same. Some candidates report being talked over. Some report confusing questions or unfair evaluations. Some report that the interviewer was late or never showed up at all.

And then, there are the great interviews. The ones that feel more like a challenging, interesting conversation with a group of people who are passionate about what they do. Where expectations and questions are clear, and evaluation feels structured and standardized. As Angela Miller, Head of Recruiting at Instabase, puts it:

“We want our candidates to feel like they just got in a room with a whiteboard to solve an interesting problem with someone that they respect."

So what turns a poor interview into a great one?

Interviewer training. When your interviewers are well-trained, they’re better able to identify, evaluate, and entice your best candidates to join your organization. But when they’re not, you’re more likely to make a mis-hire, or miss out on a candidate entirely.

Interviewer training is an essential part of building a great team, but many organizations struggle to build a repeatable process that scales alongside their hiring needs.

In this article, we’ll outline why interviewer training is integral to building a high-performing team, the key building blocks that every interviewer training framework needs, and how to build an interviewer training process that powers your hiring funnel.

Why is interviewer training so important?

Interviewer training for hiring managers and other team members is a critical part of the hiring process that’s often overlooked — and we see two reasons why this happens.

When organizations have little or no training in place, hiring targets often take priority, meaning interviewer training takes a backseat.

When organizations do have training in place, the process becomes difficult to manage at scale — eventually leading to slower training cycles, or abandonment of the process itself in favor of hiring demands.

But when organizations get their interviewer training process right, there’s a huge payoff:

  • Improve your time-to-hire: Organizations with a solid cohort of trained interviewers have a strong competitive edge when it comes to hiring velocity. They’re able to schedule, evaluate, and make an offer more quickly — meaning you’re less likely to miss out on key talent.
  • Improve candidate acceptance rates: A great candidate experience is your employer brand differentiator. Organizations with well-trained interviewers are more likely to be perceived as fair — and well-prepared interviewers contribute to a positive candidate experience.
  • Improve hiring quality: Well-trained interviewers are aligned to your company culture and beliefs, and are better at identifying the standout candidates that not only have the skills required, but demonstrate the cultural alignment that will benefit your organization.
  • Reduce the likelihood of bias: Humans are innately biased, but research proves that well-trained interviewers are more likely to run standardized, structured interviews than untrained ones. The result? Decisions based on evidence, not gut feel.
  • Increase business velocity: Organizations with a sizable pool of trained interviewers are less likely to succumb to operational pitfalls, such as scheduling conflicts and slow hiring velocity. Plus, interviewers have a more balanced load, meaning they have more time to focus on their work.

Ultimately, interviewer training is a critical part of your hiring process, because it feeds directly into long-term hiring outcomes.

A well-trained team of interviewers are better able to spot the best candidates for your team — meaning they’re more likely to stay with your organization long-term. Organizations with large cohorts of interviewers have a more balanced interview load, meaning your employees have more time to spend on the projects they joined your company to do.

The 5 key components of a great interviewer training process

Building a great interviewer training process requires you to create the right conditions for optimal learning, knowledge-sharing, and continuous development.

On a basic level, this requires providing the right resources, motivation and tools for your team to learn — but it also requires a mindset shift. Interviewer training is not a one-and-done training session; it’s an essential part of your hiring mechanism that requires continuous, sustained effort to keep everyone’s skills calibrated and aligned over time.

The best interviewer training frameworks we’ve seen all share the same five fundamental characteristics:

  1. Intentional and proactive
  2. Ongoing, not one-off
  3. Peer-driven and collaborative
  4. Personalized and contextual
  5. Rigorous and credible

Let’s unpack these in more detail.

1. Intentional and proactive

Interviewer training is often seen as more of a means of avoiding discrimination and bias. This means it’s perceived as a reactive and preventative measure, rather than a proactive one that can pave the way to fairer hiring outcomes.

Organizations with efficient training programs in place understand this necessary mindset shift — and they integrate interviewer training as an essential part of their hiring process rather than viewing it as an add-on.

2. Ongoing, not one-off

Traditional learning models for interviewer training have historically focused on a one-day one-to-many course or learning module. While these are effective for short-term knowledge recall, they’re not going to produce long-term results.

Research repeatedly proves that long-term, continuous learning trumps one-and-done training methods time after time. Why? Because when we find new ways to adopt, apply and adapt our learning to new situations, we internalize the information far better.

It also goes back to that mindset shift we already mentioned. Interviewing is a blend of skills and behaviors — and building new habits requires time and conscious change at an individual level.

3. Peer-driven and collaborative

Interviewer training is often hampered by lack of capacity — busy recruitment teams simply lack the people power required to run interviewer training sessions for the whole team.

But when organizations leverage peer-driven learning, they unlock a powerful knowledge sharing resource. Peer-driven learning is effective because it encourages both mentee and mentor parties to learn from one another and it incentivizes mutual success. And in an interviewer training process, having your trainees learn from your best interviewers drives critical alignment on what good looks like.

4. Personalized and contextual

One-to-one peer-driven learning is an essential part of interviewer training — but it’s also key to provide your employees with personalized learning opportunities that tap into their unique development points.

Research shows our learning efficiency can vary wildly depending on our motivation, the learning environment and our individual preferences. In the interview process, this variation among individuals can translate directly into inconsistency, bias and a poorer quality hire.

This is why personalized learning is essential to a great interviewer training process. When trainees are given contextual, personalized learning tracks that dial in on their individual development needs, they’re more likely to internalize and apply their training. Win-win.

5. Rigorous and credible

As an organization, the quality of your interview process depends on the quality and rigor of your training.

That means that everyone, no matter whether they’ve been interviewing for a couple of months or 20 years, needs to undergo the same training process, and have belief in why it’s so important. It means everyone is also held to the same quality bar, and re-evaluated regularly. It also means not compromising on quality — even when a new trainee doesn’t match your existing standards.

How to build an interviewer training process that scales with your organization

Interviewer training is an essential part of building a successful hiring process — and when done well, it has a positive impact on everyone.

Hiring managers and interviewers feel more confident and prepared in the interview room to ask questions that identify the best candidates. Candidates feel more valued by a high quality, high-rigor experience, making them more likely to accept an offer. Recruiters have fewer operational stumbling blocks and scheduling headaches, making them able to move more quickly on key hires.

Whether you’re a small team preparing for growth or a larger one looking to optimize your process, getting a great interviewer training process in place may seem overwhelming at first. We get it.

That’s why we’ve just published our new playbook all about this topic that digs into the how and why of how to build a successful interviewer training framework — so that you can scale your team and build a great team of interviewers at the same time.

Backed by empirical research and decades of experience from the people who built recruiting powerhouses at Uber, Palantir, Amazon and Typeform, Interviewer training that raises the bar outlines some best practice advice for setting up an interviewer training process from scratch.

You’ll discover:

  • The empirical research behind why interviewer training is so important
  • 5 best practice principles and ways to implement them
  • 4 actionable steps you can take to build your own sustainable, scalable interviewer training framework

Read it here — and get started building a world-class interview process.

Get our latest updates sent straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our updates

Stay up to date! Get all of our resources and news delivered straight to your inbox.

Other resources

Virtual Event: How Tally Hires Engineers

Event • 45 min watch

Metaview Events
Metaview Events27 Sep 2022

Most common questions asked in Engineering Manager interviews

Blog • 5 min read

David McDonald
David McDonald23 Sep 2022