Debriefing the Interview: 6 Keys to Perfecting the Process


Hiring for talent is hard work — and it takes a team to get it right.
Interview_Debriefing.jpgThat’s because team input diffuses the risk of a bad hire and reduces the likelihood of bias entering the process. Teams also harness the power of collective intelligence.

But how can you be sure to use team input efficiently while avoiding the potential pitfalls?

Here are six (6) key steps to a successful interview debrief process:

  1. First Things First: Get the right people in the room.  

    A successful interview debrief will be impossible without the right people in the room to start. So when deciding who will interview candidates consider carefully.

    Haphazard panel interviews, while perhaps well-meaning in their intention to create a more democratic hiring process, can create more problems than they resolve. For example, does everyone on the panel have a legitimate purpose for interviewing this particular person for this particular position? If so, what is that purpose?

    Know the answer to those questions before the interview questions begin to fly.

  2. Keep it structured

    Now that you know who should be asking the questions and why, you’ll want to be sure to prepare the interview questions.

    A good interview should resemble a good conversation, and that entails some unexpected detours during the give and take, but job interviews have a specific purpose, after all.

    Prepare your interviewers well, and they’ll solicit the information you need to make an excellent hiring decision. On the other hand, lack of preparation can result in a lot of talking but, ultimately, not enough useful data.

  3. Assign a content curator

    Content curation is a relatively new profession and entails weeding through all the vast amounts of information on the web and then presenting the best information to your intended audience for its intended purpose.

    Your interview debriefing process needs a content curator, too –- someone who’s responsible for culling all the opinions (the “contents”) and giving weight to only the most useful.

    Without a curator, non-relevant (i.e., non-employment related) data may be given a lot more credence than it warrants.

  4. Getting the timing right

    It’s best to hold the debriefing as soon as possible after the interview, so that recollections are fresh. However, don’t let your debriefing end and begin with that initial session.

    Hold another meeting two or three days later. The introverts in your group need time to mull things over beyond their first impressions, and a little more time won’t hurt the extroverts in the room either.

  5. An Interview Truism: The loudest voice isn't necessarily the wisest

    In any group, it’s only natural for some people to be more assertive, opinionated, and louder than the others.

    Yes, you want the interviewers to form and assert their opinion — why else involve them in the process? –- but take care that no single voice dominates the conversation.

    You want everyone’s input, and that won’t happen unless everyone is given a real opportunity to say his (or her) piece.

  6. Don't pull rank, but you MUST respect the leader

    As noted above, every member of the interviewing panel really needs to be heard. That means rank has no standing in the room.

    That said, there are good reasons to respect the hiring manager’s perception above all others.

    The hiring manager will work with the new employee on a daily basis and be responsible for mentoring and developing this individual. If the hire ends badly, the manager will undoubtedly bear the brunt and be responsible for making the situation right.

    So, unless the hiring manager is brand new to the world of management and being trained, it’s best to support his or her decision rather than override it. 

    Which one of these steps have you used to create a successful interview debrief process?


About The Author

As the leader in web-based talent decision tools, Checkster enables organizations to make better talent decisions. Using the new science of collective intelligence and ubiquity of social networks to deliver fast, accurate social ratings, Checkster gives organizations certainty in new hire decisions and employee promotions.