Want to align teams and run better interviews? You need a pre-brief meeting

Want to Run Better Interviews? You Need a Pre-Interview Meeting (Free Template)

 Align teams and Enjoy Productive Interviews with a Pre-Interview Meeting of Stakeholders

What do we mean by a pre-interview, or pre-brief meeting? Well, a seamless interview includes more than candidate experience and playing calendar games. It’s important your team is ready to make the most comprehensive, fair, and scalable assessment possible. How? A pre-interview, or pre-brief meeting ensures a great candidate experience, a comprehensive evaluation, and a standardized and repeatable interview process. We began conducting a pre-interview meeting before interviews at Hired and we’ve found them to be game-changing.

How we knew we needed a pre-interview (or pre-brief) meeting as part of the hiring process

After a recent debrief, our talent team realized many of our interviewing teams needed alignment on what they were supposed to be assessing. We found interviewers fell into a pattern of asking the same questions and, candidly, not adequately evaluating interviewees.

We forgot to:

  • identify specific areas for each interviewer to evaluate
  • provide examples of questions in line with the goal of each interview
  • present a list of best-fit candidates.

So we learned:

Before we let the interviewing team do their thing, we must get all key stakeholders on the same page with a pre-brief, or pre-interview meeting. Stakeholders include the recruiter, hiring manager, and interview squad.

The pre-interview meeting is exactly what it sounds like: a briefing before interviews begin in order to ensure everyone is clear on their role within the interview process.

If candidates wind up answering the same questions in multiple interviews, they’ll be fatigued, and your team won’t get a well-rounded, accurate assessment of their abilities.

How to execute a pre-interview meeting

A day or so before the scheduled interview, the recruiter (that’s you!) sets up and runs a 30-minute meeting. It’s not necessary to do this for every single candidate.

The pre-interview meeting is most useful when:

  • hiring for a brand new role
  • when it’s been more than six months since the role opened
  • there’s been a shift in the company, like a re-org or merger
  • your interview panel is sufficiently different than it was for previous candidates.

What to include in a hiring pre-interview meeting

Before the pre-interview meeting starts, send out a collaborative document including:

  • a link to the job description
  • an outline of the interview process detailing who will own each stage, from initial screen to offer delivery
  • the focus area each on site interviewer has been assigned, along with some example interview questions
  • examples of what a best-fit candidate might be like (known in the biz as “benchmark candidates”).

When the meeting starts, make sure everyone has access to the shared document, is familiar with the job description, and understands the organizational need to be served by filling the role. Then, have the hiring manager take a deeper dive into the on-site loop.

Align teams and run better interviews with a pre-brief or pre-interview meeting

The game plan for a “pre-brief”

For a role brand new to the company, ask the hiring manager to assign each interviewer the area of assessment to drive the conversation. To prevent lots of overlap, give the team the option to go over and call dibs on example interview questions.

Once everyone’s clear on the area to assess, review benchmark candidates to give the interview team examples of “best fit” candidates.

Feel free to include:

  • current employees (if it’s a role you’ve hired for previously),
  • candidates already in the interview process the hiring manager is excited about, or
  • some LinkedIn profiles of people who match the job description well.

This helps the team better understand what the hiring manager needs. As a bonus, it may jog ideas for candidates in their own network and even inspire referrals.

What happens when there’s no time for a pre-interview or pre-brief meeting?

Occasionally, a great candidate has a strict timeline, and/or the competition for talent is fierce. This may require you to streamline the process. You do not have time for all stakeholders to meet.

If this happens, ask the hiring manager to send an email to the interview panel detailing interview roles and some background on the candidate. 

Ready to align your teams and run better interviews?

To make this easy for the hiring manager, we made a template to make sure all bases are covered. We’d love for you and all your hiring managers to use it. To get your copy, click the giant button below!

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Previously published in 8-1-17, Revised 1-11-22, 5-24-23