Implement Interview Load Balancing and Never Give a Candidate a Bad Interview Again

May 5, 2016 at 12:00 PM William Clarke


Interview load balancing is a way of scaling your interview process in a structured way to protect your recruiters, hiring managers and other team members from burnout. The goal is to create a replicable, consistent and sustainable interview process.

Interviews can be really exhausting, and not just for the job candidates. If your interview process relies too heavily on a small, core number of interviewers, it can create points of failure within your hiring, like careless candidate feedback notes or a homogeneous evaluation system. Even worse, bad interviews are toxic for the hiring process, a huge waste of time and energy for everyone involved, and bad for your employer brand. That behooves organizations of every size to ensure that their interview process is optimized with interview load balancing.

Now here’s what that means in practice.

Create a Hiring Forecast

The first thing you need to know is how many hires you need to make. Create a hiring road map that will allow you to make forecasts – sit down with your head of recruitment and hiring managers and figure out how many jobs you anticipate filling. Sometimes it might make sense to figure out the next six months. Other times you might be thinking about the next year. A quarter is probably the smallest unit of time that can be reasonably planned out. Once you have a solid idea of what roles you’re hiring for, break your calendar into a weekly schedule where certain tasks like sourcing, outreach, phone screens, first round interviews, final interviews and offer stage are mapped out for each role.

At this point you should have a pretty good idea of how your weeks and months will look in terms of total interviews, phone screens and other parts of the hiring process. If, for instance, you see that you’re due for a glut of Sales hiring but still only have three trained interviewers in Sales, you know you need to find and train more people to perform Sales interviews. Do the same for every type of hire, from the associate level to manager level. Having enough qualified people to interview candidates for each and every role is an absolutely crucial aspect of interview load balancing.

Determine the Interview Capacity of Each Team (and Individual)

You probably have a decent idea of how many interviews it takes to make a hire for various departments. Now, consider how many trained, experienced interviewers you have at the ready. If you have three people qualified to do interviews for a customer success role, then how many people can they reasonably interview each week? Come up with a ballpark figure that won’t put undue stress on team members but will still result in enough interviews to make hires. 

For example: If it takes 12 total interviews (four candidates interviewed three times each) to fill a Sales Manager role and you have three qualified interviewers, you can reasonably anticipate an interview process of two to three weeks. But that’s not all. The interviewing capabilities of individuals will vary as well. For interview load balancing to really work, identify how many interviews each individual can conduct without burning out and task someone with tracking everyone’s weekly interview load (a simple dedicated Google calendar can work).

Standardize Training For Your Interviewers

Every organization has their all-star interviewers, but relying on a handful of people to perform all of your interviews just doesn’t scale. Throwing people into interviews without the proper training and context is a disaster waiting to happen. If you need to dramatically scale up your capacity, the best way to do so is to train as many staffers as you can.

Try this: Create a standardized series of questions and criteria. Then, have your more experienced interviewers train other employees on best interviewing practices. Put coaching into action through peer-to-peer, mock interview sessions followed by feedback.

The benefits of a standardized training process is that it ensures each and every interviewer is basing their interviews on the same criteria. It also reduces the incidence of bias and ensures that each candidate has a similar experience without any unfair or overlapping questions. This, in turn, helps control for a positive candidate experience, and also means your data is consistent across individuals, which helps you make smarter, more informed hires.

Track Your Interviews and Look For Trends 

To fully optimize your interview process, identify and rank your interviewers. If you’re an organization that holds multiple interviews for each candidate, identify who participates in interviewers at each stage. Also, figure out if you’re performing too many interviews.

The key metric is how many interviews your people are performing. If you’re not doing it already, track your interview data. Look for trends that point to imbalances or overload on certain interviewers. Ideally, you don’t want any single person on the hook for too many touch points, especially over a short period of time.  

Create a feedback loop so that you know how the process works for everyone. If Barb in Sales just can’t do Thursday interviews, be sure you don’t schedule them. If Sammy in engineering’s notes seem to get shorter and less detailed for each interview after the second, try to only have him do two a week. 

Ultimately, load balancing is about creating an interview system that allows your team to perform to the best of their abilities. The bandwidth of your interviewers will ebb and flow as they take on other projects and responsibilities, which means an agile system that can be tweaked as necessary will keep your hiring process running effectively and efficiently at all times. 

Related articles:

How False Negatives And False Positives Are Both Sabotaging Your Hiring Process
Getting Your Team To Give Meaningful Interview Insights 
How To Identify And Manage Interview Chameleons 

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