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Seek employee feedback to improve job interviews

Posted October 26, 2017

By Ed Zalewski, PHR, editor, J. J. Keller & Associates

When conducting job interviews, recruiters and hiring managers need to ask the right questions to identify the best candidates. The perfect interview questions get to the heart of an applicant’s ability and desire to succeed in the job, but creating those questions isn’t easy. The good news is that the Human Resources department doesn’t have to create interview guides in a vacuum; hiring managers and their teams can be a valuable source of help.

To help develop more effective interview questions, encourage your hiring managers to ask their current employees for input about their roles. Employees performing the job likely have helpful insight about the skills and knowledge required to be successful. The input may also help managers provide candidates with a more accurate picture of what the job involves. This could help reduce first-year turnover and avoid the need to start advertising, interviewing, and training all over again.

Skills questions

Required skills and experience should be listed in a job description, but employees currently performing the job may have more detailed insights. Their input could help managers develop more focused (and more practical) interview questions.

Questions that a manager may want to ask might include:

  • What skills are most important? Which skills do you use the most?
  • What’s the most challenging part of the job?
  • What skills does our team need to add or develop? Where do we lack bench strength?
  • What skills will our team likely need in the future? Can we develop them, or should we look for someone with experience in those areas?

The answers might help uncover misconceptions about which skills are most important, or may identify new skills that are needed. For example, if employees indicate a need for someone who speaks Spanish (and that isn’t in the job description), the manager knows to look for that skill.

Environment and culture question

The manager will likely want to hire someone who will fit in with the team and with the company culture. Once again, asking current employees for input could be enlightening. Questions might include:

  • What do you like best about your job? What do you like least?
  • How much of this position involved on-the-job learning?
  • What was the toughest thing to learn? What was your biggest transition challenge?
  • What personal qualities help you in your current role?
  • What questions would you like to ask a candidate?

Responses to these questions could help the manager provide candidates with a better picture of the work environment. For example, one employee might respond that her favorite part of the job is the variety of challenges that pop up every day, while another might respond that he dislikes the constant interruptions with new assignments. This should help the manager better describe the daily workflow.

Using the feedback

After collecting responses, the hiring manager and recruiter should create interview questions incorporating relevant feedback. The resulting interview guide should help the hiring manager identify the candidate who is the best fit and also help candidates gain a better understanding of what the job entails. This helps build a foundation for a more effective onboarding process and a smoother transition for the new hire.

As a bonus, when employees answer questions about their job skills and work environment, they should help the manager learn more about the team, and the information could be used to create development opportunities.

About the author:

Ed Zalewski

Ed Zalewski is a certified Professional in Human Resources and an editor at J. J. Keller & Associates, a nationally recognized compliance resource company that offers products and services to address the range of responsibilities held by human resources and corporate professionals. Zalewski specializes in employment law topics such as the Fair Labor Standards Act, employee benefits, and discrimination and harassment. He is the author of J. J. Keller’s FLSA Essentials guidance manual and BottomLine Benefits & Compensation newsletter. For more information, visit and