May 28, 2021 – Executive interviewing skills is arguably one of the most critical skills needed to secure the most appropriate sales and management talent for achieving revenue goals. Research continues to reveal the lack of ongoing interview training being introduced by human resource teams, as well as executive leadership to ensure hiring managers are trained and aware of how to identify, assess and measure the risk/reward of hiring, according to Russ Riendeau, senior partner and chief behavioral scientist with New Frontier Search Company. And bad hires cost millions.
“Pandemic world has further enforced this training to be able to identify traits and skill-sets that will better operate in our new ways of selling, presenting, marketing and sourcing new customers,” Dr. Riendeau said. His new report shows examples of how this omission is continuing and how executives can take the initiative to secure better interview training for their teams.
Dr. Riendeau says to consider this research of business leader interviews and empirical evidence:
- What percent of hiring managers in American businesses have had even one hour of professional interview training in the past four years, even in the pandemic timeframe? Less than five percent.
- What percent of HR executives install and require interview training initiatives in their companies? Less than 10 percent.
- What percent of hiring managers pursue interview training/coaching on their own time? Less than three percent.
- How many courses listed on the American Management Association website focus on dedicated interview training? Less than three percent.
- What percent of companies are refining and redesigning how they sell and market their products and services to meet the pandemic world? 100 percent.
Dr. Riendeau says to read any strategic plan, any corporate mission statement, any agenda for the corporate sales and marketing meeting, any new product rollout, any leadership conference or retreat–what is typically missing? “A training session or discussion about the critical skills of interviewing required for business,” he said.
Russ Riendeau, Ph.D., is senior partner and chief behavioral scientist with New Frontier Search Company, a retained search practice specializing in senior leadership, sales & sales management. The author/co-author of 11 books, numerous TEDx Talks, and a highly regarded keynote speaker, he also consults and writes about behavioral science topics and peak performance.
The lack of interview training for hiring managers in America has been the No. 1 assassin of great business strategic plans over the past 35 years or more, yet rarely discussed as a critical missing piece, according to Dr. Riendeau. “Great marketing ideas, great sales techniques trained, great customer service, on-time deliveries, guarantees, excellent on-boarding–all excellently researched and ready to launch, only to fail because the hiring managers didn’t have the training to recognize the right talent to hire and to execute the plans,” he said. “So the strategic plans were blamed for flaws, while the real assassin was hiding: lack of interview training that would allow the plans to be carried out properly.”
Evidence Of Omissions of Interview Training
Consider the recent Harvard Business Review interview with a CEO of a public corporation, pointing out the reality that every American business school provides future graduates with courses on how to interview for jobs–yet don’t teach these future business leaders how to conduct interviews when they become business leaders. Dr. Riendeau said that this “perfect storm of misdirection of skills and knowledge means the interviewee is better prepared to—unintentionally or cleverly—manipulate the interview because of the ineptness/lack of training of the interviewer who will then default to simplistic, heuristic decision devices to determine a potentially good or bad ‘fit’ for the job. End result: candidate gets a job offer based on the wrong measurement criteria and potentially destined not to be a successful outcome. The candidate’s motivation to secure an offer and belief that they can do the job is perhaps genuine, yet could be inaccurately misdirected.”
Dr. Riendeau asked why, given every corporate anthem of “Our people are our most important resource,” is there such a giant chasm dividing the importance of understanding the science of identifying great employees while investing nearly zero time, money and attention to this critical skill? And given the tightest—most competitive market to recruit talent—why again is interview training not on the meeting agendas?
Why Is Interview Training Not Emphasized?
Post-mortem analysis in Dr. Riendeau’s conversations with management professionals suggested that perhaps they simply accept or rationalize a failed hire as a “bad hire, wrong person for the job, bad timing, needed to get a body in the role, stop the bleeding, the boss didn’t like the other candidate….” the list goes on. “In reality, the real assassin to the demise of the failed employee is often the fact that they should have never been hired in the first place. Interview skills and a better evaluation process based on key initiatives required for the job would have vetted that person more thoroughly and determined they simply were not aligned with the job,” he said. “Risk/reward would not be worth it.”
Dr. Riendeau proposes several questions. Could interview training be seen as an insult or unnecessary by hiring managers who believe they are good interviews already? Could the perception be that successful leaders obviously have skills to manage and hire good people, as how else would they have been elevated to the current role? Could it be that interviewing training is difficult to measure the efficacy in a profit and loss statement? Is it because interview training is not mandated/required by labor laws, unions or government agencies, thus the cost and focus is lost on compliance-driven training? Is it because interviewing skills are perceived as highly intuitive, thus difficult to create formulas and processes that are replicable in all situations?
Traits and Skills of Successful Interviewers
Interview skills are indeed skills. “Interview effectiveness requires self-awareness, effective listening skills, objectivity, critical analysis and understanding of exactly what will be required and measured in that person’s job role,” Dr. Riendeau said. “Interviewing requires a plan of action, preparation and research before the applicant walks in the door while that manager reads the resume for the first time. Interviewing skills require a company’s commitment to teaching and measuring skills of hiring managers to insure better outcomes.”
Benefits of Training
Dr. Riendeau says that when corporate leaders recognize and accept this critical need, better hiring occurs, turnover diminishes, costs of recruiting/training/damage control go down, morale improves and every employee feels more empowered, confident and part of the solution and success of the company. “Mastering interviewing skills is critical in this post-pandemic as the revealing nature of new ways of selling, marketing and presenting are more technical and virtual,” he said. “This reality is creating a learning and skills gap in people not pursuing advanced training.”
Difficult Labor Market
Dr. Riendeau points to a recent Hunt Scanlon Media article delivering recruiting tips in a tight labor market took the bold and critical approach to show the critical skills and flaws that companies can improve on to find talent, as well as offering a critical reminder that all good ideas fail if interviewers can’t recognize and evaluate talent in a tight labor market.
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“If corporate leaders, human resource professionals and professional services organizations really believe in employees being the heart of their businesses, there must be a stronger emphasis to install and require every hiring manager with the needed interviewing skills and coaching—regardless of that employees role, experience or longevity with the company,” Dr. Riendeau said. “The new world at work has grown far too complex and intelligent to accept that outdated/non-existent interview skills will hold up the rigors of today’s demand for attracting and securing top talent. Even the best strategic business plan or idea awaits the assassin’s influence, if the individuals hired to execute the strategic plan or goals are not correct person for the job.”
War for Talent
The demand and war on finding top sales and leadership talent is apparent. “Lack of skilled labor and unskilled labor is tight, forcing companies to shift growth plans, new product rollout and even the automotive industry can build as many cars because of a chip shortage,” said Dr. Riendeau. “What this all means is a company’s hiring managers have to become better at evaluating untraditional talent that could transfer skills and interests into new industries.”
Dr. Riendeau says that leaders have to take more calculated risks and expand the labor pool to meet their objectives. “And they can’t do this if they don’t know how to truly assess and identify transferable skills,” he said. “As important is senior leadership’s willingness to allow this widening of the type of profiles are being hired. This could mean stronger on-boarding training and more time to coach.”
“This pandemic has created much stress, anxiety, risk avoidance and uncertainty in people making career moves,” said Dr. Riendeau. “It’s also revealed the need to hire talent with strong resiliency, grit, self-awareness, self-motivated—all measurable and critical skills that reduce the risk of a bad hire. Hiring managers have avoided taking risks in hiring talent that falls outside the box of default experience and this habit pattern will need to shift if they expected to secure the best talent in this economy for the next years to come.”
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media