Most Managers Aren't Fit To Interview

Do you have a process for deciding who is allowed to interview job candidates at your company?

If you don’t, you’re not alone.  Most companies don’t give interview team selection much thought at all.  

But I would argue that selecting the proper interview team is one of the most critical steps of the hiring process.

Get it right and you hire the right people.

Get it wrong and you not only hire the wrong people, but you damage your employer brand in the process.

Don’t believe me?

Just take a look at a few Glassdoor reviews.   Many of the negative reviews that you see are caused by a bad interview experience created by someone who had no business being on an interview team.


So how should companies improve interview team selection?   

Let’s take a look at 5 ways...

Improvement #1 - Reduce the Number of Interviewers


The biggest mistake that companies make is having too many people on the interview team.  

There is some good research from companies like Google that suggests beyond 3 or 4 interviewers, you get diminishing returns.   

Each person has their own idea of what they’re looking for, their own style of interviewing and their own level of competence when it comes to assessing talent.

Research aside, I think we can all agree that the more people you involve in ANY decision complicates the ability to reach consensus.    And consensus is the key to making great hires.

To keep your interview teams at the optimal size you might have to hurt some feelings. But think about the upside to the candidate experience. Who really wants to meet 7 or 8 people from your company? Some of who are bad interviewers and all of whom are probably asking the same questions over and over. It’s just not a great experience.

Improvement #2 - Use candidate surveys to identify your best and worst interviewers


I’ve learned some really interesting things from surveying candidates after an interview.  

Like the time I learned that a Senior Vice President asked a candidate what nationality they were.    And the time that a manager told a candidate about a new product launch prematurely. And the time that a male manager asked a female college student out on a date at a university career fair.   

Yes, these things actually happened!

And they’re probably happening at your organization too…you just don’t know about it because you’re not surveying your candidates.

While it’s never fun to find these things out, or have the follow up conversations with the offenders, it’s better to catch it early and put an end to it before it ends up on Glassdoor.   Or worse yet, in a court of law.

Improvement #3 - Certify your interviewers with an interviewer training course


Let’s face it, managers aren’t born to be great interviewers.  It’s not their full-time job. And Interviewing skills are just like muscles — if you don’t use them, they tend to get really weak.


To compensate for that, it’s important to educate your interviewers with a training course that gives them a healthy dose of interviewing fundamentals.    

The companies who do this best, require managers to receive training before they’re allowed to conduct an interview.   Some even require managers to “shadow” an experienced interviewer. And elite companies, require managers to conduct interviews in the presence of an experienced interviewer so they can receive feedback.   So in the best case scenario, a manager should learn, observe and practice before being released into the wild.

It’s up to you how structured you want to be, but the bottom line is that managers are not automatically good interviewers.  They need to be trained.


Improvement #4 - Include an unbiased interviewer who has no skin in the game.


Amazon gets credit for this suggestion.  They call their unbiased interviewers “Bar Raisers”.   Because they help raise the bar on talent. These are employees who are a part of an interview team but have no affiliation with the department or the job.   As a result, they interview each candidate through a completely objective lens. They only focus on whether or not the candidate is a good representation of the company values, culture or employee quality.

This is an advanced practice, but the companies who use it swear by it.

And improvement #5 - Involve people who are good company representatives at various points of the interview process


This goes back to the entire purpose of this article.   That not everyone is cut out to be an interviewer. If you want to attract and convert top talent, you’ll want to put your best people in front of them.

So as you think about your interview team selection, visualize your employees who are highly engaged in their role, love working for the company and jump at the chance to talk about what they do.

These are the people you want to put on your interview teams.  


And these are the people who you want to represent your company at job fairs, office tours, lunches and other candidate touch points.   


In summary, spending some time thinking about interview team selection is one of the best ways to improve your candidate experience and improve your ability to convert high performing talent. Don’t assume that all managers are good interviewers.

By implementing just a couple of the tips in this article you should see the results on your candidate surveys, on your social media accounts and you might even see things like your offer-to-acceptance ratio improve as well.