Whether too many want to be involved, or you are dragging colleagues into an interview kicking and screaming, who makes up your interview team matters. As the professional or group that has to select who and who not to include things become complicated very quickly. While every campus will have their unique dynamics, this article will put forth a framework for intentional decision making around how to select your interview team.
To pick the right people, you have to first identify the essential tasks. In my opinion, interviews can and should accomplish three things.
1. Interviews should inform you about the candidate and if they are someone you want to employ.
2. An interview is a sales pitch. Learning about a candidate, and wanting to employ them is not enough if they do not also like your organization. So, an interview is also your opportunity to sell your organization as an employer of choice, and more directly as the right choice for that candidate.
3. An interview is a political opportunity. Who is involved in your interview process will mold and shape the mindset of campus partners about their worth and voice to your organization. Interviews can therefore be a chance to build upon partnerships.
With so many factors in play, how are priorities set?
While each search will require a different balance, the general rules and order to follow are fairly simple. If we pick the wrong person, it probably doesn’t matter how much good will we gained politically, and it probably doesn’t matter how well we sold our amazing institution. If we build incredible good will politically, but in the process that person speaks negatively about the institution or my department, we can lose a candidate that we have identified as an excellent match. For these reasons the order in almost every search is:
1. Know the candidate.
2. Sell our institution, department, and position.
3. Gain political favor when feasible or mandatory.
Having now examined the framework, we arrive at the hard part. We reside in a field that believes in everyone, and gives everyone grace to grow and develop. In many cases, our natural instinct is to involve as many people in an interview as possible. Gain all of the voices, and to allow for anyone who wants to participate. It is time to look at this philosophy, and move to something better. In short, we need to “over manage” the process. We will not micro manage, but we should over manage. Interviews should not be a set of blanks to be filled out by whoever is available. Intentionality must be applied at every level. What are the functional things you need to know about this candidate, and what group of people would be best to evaluate those things? We must now balance that with how many people should be in that room to ensure that we also make the environment welcoming, safe, and fair for a candidate. Most professionals have faced an interview where they sit down with 10 people in one crowded conference room. Those stories rarely end well, yet we continue to trudge down that path without acknowledging that it will lead where it has always led.
We must start with the functions (what are the interviews that will tell us what we need to know), then move to the numbers (how many interviews and how many interviewers in each interview is appropriate), and finally move to the individuals. Out of all the colleagues we could ask to participate, who understands what would make an excellent candidate for us in that functional area? Out of all the colleagues we could ask to participate, who is an excellent ambassador for our brand that can show the candidate who we are and why we are excited to work at our institution? Finally, out of all the colleagues we could ask to participate, who is a partner that we could gain perspective from that both knows what we need and shares and reflects our enthusiasm well?
Armed with a new mindset, we can build better interview teams.
This post is part of our #SArecruits series, which will share experiences from a variety of #SApros who have hired new employees. We hope that these stories will give great insight for both professionals looking to improve their hiring tactics, and also those on the job search looking for an inside perspective. For more information, please see Bill Mattera’s intro post. Be sure to check out other posts in this series!
> BONUS <
Podcast With Danny Malave on New Professional Retrospective on the Job Search