Ensure Success with Secondary Interviews

By Astrid Wonderley on June 10, 2022

Interviewing is one of the most important steps of the hiring process, and getting multiple perspectives of a person helps you make more informed decisions. When conducting secondary interviews, include people who can assess skills you aren’t familiar with, draw on a depth of experience you don’t have, or add a level of objectivity you may lack. Once you have your interview team assembled you need to communicate and coordinate.

Secondary interviews tips and tricks.

Here are some helpful hints to you get you on the right track:

  • Discuss your needs up front. Share your job profile with secondary interviewers before they sit down with your candidates, so there is no confusion about the type of person who will succeed. Discuss the job description and who the other team members are. With an understanding of the requirements, people will be better equipped to make recommendations. 
  • Develop a strategy. Work together to create interview questions and talking points beforehand. Discuss how to open the interview, how to wrap it up, and how to handle any questions the candidate has along the way. This ensures your interviewer knows what to ask and will come across prepared and organized.
  • Review interview basics. An incompetent interviewer will negatively impact candidate experience. If necessary, coach your secondary interviewer ahead of time on basic techniques like building rapport, watching body language, and probing a candidate’s answers to get more in-depth information. Be sure they understand the 80/20 Rule of Interviewing (the candidate should do 80% of the talking and the interviewer should only do 20%).
  • Debrief the right way. “So, what’d you think?” is not the way to debrief. You want concrete, specific feedback, so sit down with the interviewer and review the hiring profile so you can discuss matches and mismatches. Better yet, ask for a quick S.W.O.T. analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) based on what the secondary interviewer learned about the candidate. Give him or her every opportunity to provide both positive and negative input.
  • Stay neutral. You’ll get the most objective feedback if you avoid biasing your interviewers. Let them know you are interested in all candidates and recognize that each has pros and cons. If you indicate up front you’re leaning heavily toward one candidate over another, some interviewers will find it difficult to give you an honest opinion.

One of a hiring manager’s biggest challenges is weighing feedback from others against his or her own thoughts and inclinations. It can be a daunting task, but getting a solid second opinion from one or two carefully selected individuals can make it a little easier.

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