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Building a Winning Interview Team: What Roles Should You Include?

In Interviews — by Dave Anderson


Hiring a new employee will have a wide-reaching impact on your company. They not only accomplish a series of individual responsibilities but also work and interact with different people in and outside the company.

A new hire first and foremost needs to carry out their primary tasks in order to help the team and company achieve its goals. They need to have the required skills and experience to do their job in a way that keeps the company progressing forward.

They also need to be a great member of the team they work with. In addition to accomplishing the individual tasks of their role, they need to collaborate with their immediate colleagues to complete major projects.

Anyone who joins your company also has to gel with other employees from different departments. They need to be ready to band together with other teams to successfully complete cross-functional projects. And of course, they should be friendly and a generally positive presence in your workplace. It’s important to ensure an ideal candidate not only has the required skills and experience but is also the right culture fit for the organization.

Lastly, the person you decide to hire should be excited to join your company and have a desire to evolve as a professional. They shouldn’t be content to do the same thing day-in-and-day-out, year-after-year but rather have a long-term career plan. They should want to learn as much as possible about your operations so they can offer up new ideas that benefit both themselves as a professional and the company as a whole.

But the question remains, how do you identify this person when hiring? Interviews are traditionally tailored toward finding someone with the right professional background while glossing over team fit, culture fit and professional development factors. In this blog post, we’ll provide tips on how to build a winning interview team that helps your company identify the candidate who is the complete and total package.

A member of the recruiting team

The first person to interact with a candidate should be a member of the recruiting team. It’s their job to prescreen the candidates who look the most impressive on paper and get a sense of the person’s ability and general personality. They can ask the candidate about experience in previous jobs, what they know about the company and how previous coworkers would describe them. They can also ask about compensation and salary expectations to ensure candidates are on the same page as your company so no one’s time is wasted.

A recruiting team member will almost never be able to identify the person who checks all the boxes on their own. But they can converse with different candidates, get a sense of the pool of applicants and eliminate the ones from contention who clearly aren’t the right fit.

These initial interviews can be conducted on the phone. They shouldn’t take longer than 30 minutes and there is no need to ask anyone to visit the office since quite a few candidates will participate.

The hiring manager

After a member of the recruiting team prescreens candidates, the hiring manager should do the same. They understand the role requirements and team dynamics better than anyone else and can benefit from having their own initial conversation with candidates before they come in for more in-depth interviews.

The recruiters prescreening interview should focus on why the candidate applied, what they want in their next job and touch on the role requirements. Whereas the recruiter likely asked if the candidate has the necessary skills for the job, the hiring manager can get more nuanced and essentially ask them to prove it. They can use their own knowledge and expertise to come up with detailed questions that help them learn how experienced a candidate is in certain areas and how they would use those skills if hired.

The hiring manager can also get a sense of how the candidate would fit in with their team and support their colleagues. They can ask what they know about the other positions on the team and how their expertise can support the department’s objectives.

The members of the future hire’s team

At this point, a few of the handful of candidates who were prescreened should come in for interviews. While the initial conversations were quick and revolved around questions concerning role fit, the in-person interviews should take a few hours and involve multiple employees who can offer their own perspectives.

The hiring manager should be tasked with assembling the interview team and having another conversation with the candidates. It’s important they don’t rehash the same questions from the phone interview since that approach won’t lead to any new insights and will make for a poor candidate experience. They instead should have a more detailed conversation with the candidates and try to determine how they would approach the challenges associated with the job. On the spot evaluation exercises and situational and behavioral interview questions can help the hiring manager zero-in on who truly has what it takes to do the job.

The members of the hiring team who participate in the interviews should follow a more prescriptive process. There’s no need to provide them with a list of questions to ask but requesting they complete a rubric on each candidate ensures they focus on the right factors. Interviewers who don’t know exactly what to look for often get caught up on details that don’t really matter, like what the candidate is wearing, how their resume looks or how they respond to a particular question. They can still offer a general opinion on a candidate but asking them to look for qualities that actually matter for the role will provide decision makers with a more well-rounded takeaway.

A colleague from a different team

The hiring manager and their team members will be able to learn a lot about a candidate’s personality during their interview with them. But many teams often have their own micro-cultures that differ from the overall company culture.

As we mentioned in the intro, new hires should be a positive presence in your workplace. Whether they’re working on a project that involves a team on the other side of the office or just eating lunch with someone from a different department, they have to be a friendly and respectful employee of your company.

It makes a lot of sense to have candidates interview with employees from other teams in the company. After they go through the rigorous conversations with the immediate hiring team, they can meet with an employee from a different department for a culture-fit interview. The people conducting it can ask questions that help them learn about the candidate’s personality, how they work with others and if they possess the same values as the company.

Unlike the other members of the interview team, there is no clear person who should interview for culture fit. It makes perfect sense to randomly select a couple employees from around the workplace and ask them to have a quick conversation with a potential hire.

A member of the leadership team

The best candidates have what it takes to do the job and an idea of how they can contribute beyond the immediate role requirements. They should have a career plan and hope your company can be part of it.

A member of your company’s executive team, preferably the owner or CEO, should also speak with an ideal candidate before you extend an employment offer. By this point, the hiring manager should already have an ideal candidate in mind and can ask a company leader to sign-off on hiring them.

Like the interview with members of different teams, the interview with a member of the c-suite doesn’t need to be specific to the role. Rather it should focus on sharing the vision for the future of the company and learning about the candidate’s career ambitions. At the end of the interview, the company leader should be prepared to give the go-ahead on hiring the candidate, unless he/she uncovers any major red flags.

Image courtesy of Zhipeng Ya

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