Hiring Team and Interview Guidance

Last updated: Oct 18, 2023

This resource provides guidance for designing a hiring plan, including:

  • Building a committee;

  • Structuring interview stages;

  • Interview best practices.

For a detailed overview of how to plan for a hiring process, including estimated lead times and budget considerations, check out our resource: Strategizing for a new hire.

Constructing a hiring team

As you prepare for a hiring process, a diverse hiring team made up of key stakeholders in the position you are hiring for, as well as colleagues with experience relevant to the position, can support multi-faceted, informed decision making and help mitigate bias.

Some questions you may want to consider when constructing a hiring team include:

  • What are the various roles needed on your hiring team to best support your hiring process?
    • Common roles include:
      • Hiring lead: leads on job creation and determination of hiring decisions;

      • Coordinator: serves as primary point of contact for hiring team members and candidates;

      • Application reviewers:
        • This role often overlaps with interview committee members.

        • Application review can be the most labor-intensive stage of a hiring process. If this labor will be distributed amongst several reviewers, be sure to establish common ground on the criteria to advance or reject applicants.

      • Interview committee: conducts and assesses interviews.

    • A hiring process for a senior position, or a position wherein you expect a high volume of applications, may require a larger hiring team to that of an entry-level position.

  • Who will lead on the coordination of your hiring team?
    • Who will keep members on the same page and accountable to a timeline?

    • Who will manage candidate communications?

  • Who is on the interview committee and what qualities is each person evaluating?
    • How many rounds of interviews do you plan to have?

    • Are members of your interview committee able to assess transferable skills when a candidate’s experience is not an exact match for the description in your job post?

    • Does it make sense for the same interviewers to participate in all rounds, or would your process benefit from the input of a different set of interviewers from first to final rounds?
      • It is recommended that the interview committee remain consistent within each respective round, to standardize the candidate experience.

  • How are decisions made on your hiring team?
    • Will you use consensus, or does your hiring lead make final decisions on rejecting and advancing candidates?

    • How does your interview committee debrief and decide on next steps?

    • Are there members of your interview committee, such as members of the CS&S team, where it would make sense for them to participate in the interview and offer feedback, but not vote on a decision?

Interview best practices

Once you have thought through the stages in your hiring process and determined the makeup of your hiring team, set your interview committee up for success with the following considerations:

  • Estimate a timeline for each round of interviews that provides lead time to schedule with candidates and deliberation time to assess next steps between rounds.
    • When possible, schedule holds for your interview committee to ensure availability for synchronous calls throughout your timeline.

    • Estimate the duration of interviews in each round.
      • Early rounds may be as short as 15-30 minutes while later rounds could benefit from a longer call of 45-60 minutes.

      • Avoid going longer than 60 minutes in respect of the fact that candidates’ time is unpaid.

  • Prepare and share interview questions with your committee in advance.
    • Working from a script can keep your interview committee on task and maintain consistency between interviews.

    • You may want to assign questions to interviewers, to support the flow of conversation.

    • Be sure to save time for candidate questions: a successful interview determines mutual fit and is not a one-way street.

  • Consider questions relevant for employee versus contract hires:
    • What is the scope of work for the role? How closely will they work with your team? What is the depth and frequency of support available to the role?
  • Consider options to promote accessibility:
    • Does your hiring team have capacity to offer asynchronous interview options?

    • Can you enable captioning?

    • Can you drop questions in the chat and offer time for candidates to process before responding?

    • Can you share interview questions with candidates in advance?

    • Can you field accessibility requests in advance? There is always more to learn when it comes to expanding awareness of access issues.

  • Flag conflicts of interest:
    • If a member of your hiring team has a pre-existing relationship with an interviewee, it may be appropriate for them to recuse themselves from hiring decisions if they are unable to remain unbiased.

    • If your team has already worked with a candidate in another capacity, consider how to mitigate the advantage you may be giving them over candidates with whom you do not have a previous relationship.
      • Ask questions that can identify sensibilities/approaches you have not seen in your previous work with them.

      • Establish consistent criteria by which all candidates can be equally assessed.

  • Practice bias awareness in deliberation sessions.
    • Focus on assessing fit for the unique needs of the role rather than a candidate's personal traits.

    • Reflect on the impact of race, power and privilege when judging “professionalism.”

What to ask (and not ask) in an interview

In addition to questions about candidates work experience and/or lived experience that qualifies them for the specific objectives and responsibilities of the role, include the following considerations:

  • Assess skill sets and readiness:
    • Ask where strengths and areas of comfort lie versus areas for skill-building in order to meet the expectations described in the job posting.
      • Does your team have the capacity to support skill-building in the areas described?

  • Emphasize the importance of mutuality by asking candidates how your team can meet their needs.

  • Learn about communication preferences:
    • If your team works remotely, share information about the style and tools used for effective communication.

    • Ask what they have found works well and is a blocker in team communications.

    • Invite candidates to share previous experiences giving and receiving feedback to assess their approach and support needs when navigating challenging situations.

  • Ask candidates to share how they would like to grow/how this role supports progress towards personal and professional goals.
    • Prepare your interview panel for this conversation by aligning on growth pathways for the role, and the professional development resources available on your team.

  • Do not ask questions prohibited and discouraged by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) which address protected aspects of identity such as race, color, religion, sex, national origin or age.
    • This applies to all communications with or about the applicant, including application forms, interviews questions or comments and reference checks.

    • This applies whether you are seeking information from the applicant or from someone else, such as the applicant's doctor, former employers, friends or family.


Director of Human Resources

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