Dear Matt: I’ve been asked by my supervisor to help interview candidates for some open positions in my department. I feel honored to help make decisions that will play a role in choosing my future co-workers. But I’m curious — why are companies having employees who do not have a hiring background help out with interviews? And how can I prepare for this?

Matt says: This is quite common for a number of reasons. The company HR team may be small, or they may not know enough about the intricacies of the position to ask the appropriate questions.

It may be that your manager wants to focus on not only finding the right person, but the right fit. By asking both managers and team members to participate in the interview process, the overall team can get a better idea of how the person they select will fit in from both a talent and cultural perspective.

“In some cases, the manager is also on the fence and wants to get a second or third opinion,” says Jake Wyant, a national practice recruiter in the St. Paul office of avaap (, a technology-driven enterprise software services company.

“Or a manager may also not be experienced at hiring,” Wyant adds, “and does not want the responsibility to fall on them if it turns out to be a bad hire.”

If you are asked to interview potential employees, either individually or as part of a panel, seek guidance from your manager as to what they want you to accomplish:


• Do they want you to dig down to a deeper level?

• Do they just want you to have a high level conversation, looking for that cultural fit?


Then check with HR and see if they can assist with finding questions to ask — and/or tips on what not to ask.

One Twin Cities employee was recently asked to be on a team interviewing for people to work in her department. She started off with a list of five questions to ask, but soon realized that five wasn’t enough, as candidates can sometimes answer more than one question in a response. So bring a copy of that person’s résumé with you to the interview — it can help trigger other questions or discussions.

“If you have been employed at the company for some time, maybe you have seen others fail,” said Wyant. “Reflect back as to why they did not work out. You may be able to come up with questions about their past that may lead to you interpret how they would do.

“People inherently do not change much. How they have reacted and worked in prior positions is a very strong indicator of how they will do in the future.”