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How to Avoid a Bad Hire | Part One

3-Tiered Interviews

The basic hiring process has ten general steps: 1) Identifying the Job Description and its requirements, 2) Screening applications, 3) Identifying a short list based on application responses, 4) Scheduling a preliminary interview and any required testing, 5) Developing another “Short, short list”, 6) Scheduling several rounds of interviews with others in the company, 7) Ranking final candidates, 8) Making preliminary offer contingent on background check, 9) Final offer, and 10) Onboarding.

Here we will discuss how to improve the most subjective part of the hiring process: the interview.

Most of us have biases based on past experiences and preferences. On a visceral level, male interviewers prefer attractive women and female interviewers prefer attractive men. Candidates may have certain characteristics that remind interviewers of other relationships, whether they are good or bad. Most importantly, candidates assume the role of the candidate and put on the best show they can. With said, that is why it is best to have multiple interviews to build a consensus view of the candidates. In addition, studies have shown that the more a candidate is required to do in the hiring process, the more likely they are to value the relationship and help to reduce premature turnover.

As for the one interviewing the candidate, it is always a good idea to have more than one interviewer as first impressions can be very persuasive. All subsequent interviews should be done by a team of interviewers that can best determine how the candidate might fit in with actual work teams at various levels of the job requirements. Indeed, an HR person who is not familiar with the actual job requirement and group dynamics is not as qualified as a person who participates in the job on a daily basis. Likewise, interviewers at higher levels in the organization can also have a view as to the potential future development of the candidate for potential organizational advancement; both the short-term and long-term potential of the candidate should be part of the assessment.

For multiple interviews, there is a logistical consideration: interviews should be scheduled as close together as possible to make for a more credible consensus amount the interviewers. For example, the candidates should be able to complete the interviewing process within two days, and the consensus rankings are done on the third day. While the tiered interviews are costlier than having just a single interview, making a bad hire, particularly after any training and onboarding costs, far outweighs the cost of multiple interviews.

At the end of each level of interview, the interviewers should develop a consensus immediately after the departure of the candidate from the interview. The consensus of each interviewing group is submitted in writing to the candidates file for consideration by the ultimate decision maker(s).

To ensure the efficiency of the tiered interview process, it is a good idea to develop interview teams for each level interview and together with HR to develop a list of open-ended questions that would best reflect the job requirement for each level. Interview time should be kept to a maximum of thirty minutes and monitored by a team leader to make sure interviews don’t turn into a social event. Also, there should be a strict policy of non-disclosure on the part of the interviewers; any violation of that policy could create a liability for the company and potential problems for the violator.

In the current “War for Talent,” having a coherent, fair and efficient interview process can go a long way to onboarding and retaining the right people.


Nation's Executive Search Group is sought out by leaders in Enterprise Risk Management, Marketing Services and Decision Analytics for mission critical sales and marketing leadership talent.

For more information, email or call Rob at (410) 827-0180,



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