By:  Angela Nino, CFI

If you are a Human Resources professional, chances are you are naturally inquisitive and care about people; you know how to be discrete and ethical; and people describe you as empathetic and intuitive.   These qualities are necessary for success as an interviewer.

Interviews and difficult conversations are a part of the everyday life of most HR professionals, yet many struggle when it comes to getting to the truth.  Simply asking for the truth is easy.  Getting the truth can be difficult.  It’s even more difficult to get the truth when consequences exist for the person disclosing, especially when it goes against self-preservation. Detecting signs of deception requires skill.  Getting the truth requires expertise.

There are several “myths” I hear fairly often when discussing interviewing for HR professionals.  If these myths are believed, the same professionals that dedicate their careers to helping others, and protecting the company, could be putting themselves and the company at risk. Here are the top 5 myths I hear most often:

Myth #1:              I don’t need training.  I already know how to interview.

Truth:                  Being naturally inquisitive isn’t the same as having interviewing expertise.  

Even the most talented people practice their skills.  Michael Jordan was known for staying late to shoot foul shots even after other players went home.  Whether you are a professional athlete or an HR professional – if you have natural talent and don’t practice, you will be surpassed by people with less talent who practice harder.  Would it make sense if a manager said, “I’ve been a leader for years; I don’t need any leadership training?”   Of course not, and it doesn’t make sense to say that about interviewing skills either.

Myth #2:              HR must be getting the training they need – they are in charge of training!

Truth:                   HR is likely to be someone who thinks of other people before themselves.

A common personality type for an HR professional is a caregiver.  They are not the type of people who sacrifice the needs of the organization for their own needs.  HR professionals also have a tendency to be perfectionists.  They might not want to believe they could make an error during the investigative interviewing process.  There may also be concern that an error will be perceived as a personal failure.  Those who stay current on their skills, and continue to learn, are successful professionals.

Myth #3:              Interview training is for loss prevention and cops.

Truth:                   Interview training is for anyone who needs to know the truth.

One of the biggest concerns I hear from HR is that they don’t want to sound like cops or security, and I obviously understand that concern.  Many think the norm for police interviews is what they have seen on drama television shows like NYPD Blue.  If you watch interviews from well-trained police interview rooms, it’s nothing like what you see on television.   Understanding how to properly obtain the truth is just as important for HR as any other interviewing professional.

Myth #4:              HR interviewing skills are for hiring / candidate interviews.

Truth:                  Interviewing skills are required for investigative conversations, he said/she said conversations, sexual harassment investigations, workplace disputes and workplace violence investigations.      

When I tell people I teach HR interviewing skills, it’s often assumed I mean hiring interviews.  Many don’t think about the amount of difficult conversations that happen after people are hired.

Numerous articles exist telling HR what not to do during investigative interviews with little information on what they are supposed to do.  It’s like a diet that lists all the things not to eat, and you sit there wondering what you can actually eat.  At WZ we teach how to have those difficult conversations, and get to the truth.

Myth:                    We’ve never needed interview training before.

Truth:                    The elite break the status quo.

Job assessments and behavioral interviews used to be controversial.  Now it’s the norm.

Leaders know investing in training means they are investing in their people.  I don’t know anyone that left a company because they provided too many opportunities to better themselves.  I don’t know any person that left a company because there was too much investment in training.


The ability to ask the right questions the right way, at the right time, and communicate at a new level is a skill.  NEVER has an HR professional left my seminar and said it was a waste of time.   All of them, even those with 25 years of experience, say they learned something new.

Learn more about interviewing with Wicklander-Zulawski.  Click here to see when we’ll be in a city near you! Follow us on Twitter @WZ_Training or Like us on Facebook!