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A company can conduct team interviews by forming a group of employees to evaluate and query job candidates. When using a group approach to interviewing, getting all the parties lined up behind one candidate takes coordination . The team leader generally selects group members who are likely to work with the candidate, if hired, and helps them prepare for the interview.
The Gendreau Group, a revenue-building, project development firm, recommends a team of four to eight of the candidate's would-be peers. The team also can include the potential hire's manager and direct reports. A multilevel team of interviewers allows you to observe how well the candidate communicates with colleagues, bosses and subordinates.
Each team member must buy into the group approach to interviewing candidates. "Buy-in" means that the members treat each other as equals under the leader's direction, even with managers and subordinates on the team. The purpose is to ensure that everyone's assessments and observations are valued. Members should expect to make a successful hiring decision, or reject a candidate as a group, while expressing their individual opinions.
The team leader briefs the members on the candidate's credentials and the qualifications needed to fill the position. Each member submits a specified number of interview questions, perhaps three to five. The topics chosen are crucial, because they help the team decide whether the candidate has the skills to do the job and personal characteristics that are suited to the organization's culture. The team leader should group the questions into categories relating to the job, such as communication, managerial and delegating skills, teamwork, conflict resolution, technical knowledge and organizational skills. Team members with experience in a particular subject take responsibility for handling questions in that category.
One way for the team to decide whether the candidate has the skills to succeed is to create a list of tasks for the person to perform during the interview. For instance, if the team needs a graphic designer with experience in group dynamics, it might ask how the candidate would collaborate with copywriters on a marketing campaign. If hiring a computer programmer, the team can give the candidate a sample code to review, assess and correct.
Team members meet 10 or 15 minutes before the interview to review the process. When the candidate arrives, they introduce themselves and their job responsibilities. The team leader, or designated facilitator, starts the question-and-answer session in round-robin style. The team will note the candidate's responses and demeanor in the interview, and overall ability to meet the job qualifications. Members will discuss their observations in follow-up meetings before deciding whether to hire the individual. According to the Gendreau Group, candidates are more likely to reveal their strengths and weaknesses when they don't know team members' title or rank.
Under federal and state law, some Interview questions are illegal. Without a legitimate business need-to-know, interviewers should avoid asking candidates about their race, religion, gender, physical disability, marital status, parenting status, and height and weight. Finally, questions about a candidate's medical background are forbidden until a job offer is made.
Valerie Bolden-Barrett is a writer, editor and communication consultant specializing in best business practices, public policy, personal finance and career development. She is a former senior editor of national business publications covering management and finance, employment law, human resources, career development, and workplace issues and trends.
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