CXR Member Spotlight: Innovations in Interviewing

How DaVita’s Interviewer Certification Program Changed Hiring Manager Habits While Improving Retention and Candidate Experience

Ineffective interviewing costs companies time, money and often good hires. When talent is plentiful, it is often a problem some companies are willing to overlook. However, when you’re looking at a talent shortage, the problem can become a huge deficit. In today’s labor market, it’s becoming more and more expensive to make a bad hire. Thus, it is no surprise that many companies are reviewing their interview procedures and looking to standardize the process.

CareerXroads Enterprise member DaVita saw that challenge and decided to tackle it head on. “We know from years of research that behavioral interviewing is a strong predictor of performance,” notes DaVita’s Senior Manager of Employment Strategy, Erica Drew (see graph below). “But in reality interviewing is very personal and changing habitual behavior is difficult – especially when you are talking about the behavior of 5000+ hiring managers.”


Developing a behavioral interview program that would standardize the interview process and improve hiring decisions nationwide was a sizable challenge. At the start of this process, DaVita had existing behavioral interview tools that were cumbersome and underutilized. DaVita had also provided behavioral interview training for years, but it wasn’t enough to create change. Drew stated, “We realized pretty quickly that we needed to do more than best-demonstrated practice (BDP) sharing and quick training sessions. So we went back to the drawing board.”

In developing the process and training program, DaVita identified six main drivers that needed to be addressed:

  • Retention/Quality of Hire: An emphasis on evidence-based decision making was needed to improve retention and quality of hire. Bad hires are often a result of decisions that are based on feeling and judgments, instead of fact.
  • Consistency: To improve the quality of data collected in interviews, a clear, consistent process needed to be implemented. Standardization provides the opportunity for apples-to-apples comparisons.
  • Tool Simplification: To make interviewing more accessible, DaVita took their original 21-page behavioral interview document and narrowed it to one page with four questions per interviewer.
  • Process Improvement: The interview process was boiled down to three steps: Prepare, Interview and Decide. “We realized the simpler we made the process, the easier it was to follow,” says Drew
  • Skills Training and Practice: Once the tools were launched, several managers provided feedback. They explained that they didn’t feel comfortable with behavioral interviewing. Specifically, they didn’t understand how to ask follow-up questions and use the data they collected to make decisions. Erica decided to go beyond previous trainings that focused on best-demonstrated practices (BDPs) and take a more tactical approach while providing an interactive learning experience. DaVita learned very quickly that simply creating a tool and delivering a training was not enough to make it stick.
  • Accountability: DaVita created a certification program that allows only interviewers who meet clearly defined expectations to get in front of candidates and make hiring decisions.


To create behavioral change, DaVita realized they needed to help hiring managers to learn, as opposed to teaching them. Thus, Interview Coach was born. Interview Coach is an interviewer certification program based on the 70-20-10 model of learning and development. 70% interview practice, 20% feedback from a coach and 10% formal training.

What is Interview Coach?

Interview Coach is an interviewer certification program that helps teammates learn critical interview and hiring decision skills. The program begins with interview-skills training to set expectations and provide interviewers the knowledge and tools they need to be successful. After that, interviewers are partnered with a coach to rehearse and receive feedback on their skills throughout three structured interview activities. The coach acts as a mentor, demonstrating the right interview behaviors and holding the interviewer accountable to DaVita’s criteria.

The time to complete Interview Coach is dependent on available interviews within the geography. Only one activity can be completed per month. Therefore, the fastest the program can be completed is three months. Typical program completion is 7-9 months.



DaVita began with a pilot across 10 divisions in December of 2016. They carried out 28 trainings and currently, have 83 coaches who worked with 263 interviewers. DaVita has closely monitored progress during and after the program was completed to adjust elements as needed.

In an early survey hiring managers reported that they were uncomfortable with behavioral interviewing and lacked the confidence to use the tools in interviews. After Activity One, DaVita saw a 13% increase in confidence. By the end of Activity Three, hiring manager confidence had improved by 26%. In a post-pilot survey, hiring managers reported satisfaction with the support and feedback coming from their coaches and also felt the benefits of added practice and accountability after training. As one hiring manager noted, “We are learning to use data instead of just our intuition.”

Kristen DesPalmes, Senior Director of Employment Strategy shares, “It was clear to Erica and I that we needed to try something different. We are really excited about the early pilot results we are seeing. Especially in regard to Hiring Manager confidence and Candidate Experience.”

Below is a summary of early pilot results in five key metrics: (1) Retention, (2) Quality of Hire, (3) Interviewer Quality, (4) Interviewer Confidence and (5) Candidate Experience. These results are not final and are being updated regularly.


  • Overall company retention increased by 2.1% ─ Pilot areas went up by 4.4%.
  • Compared to control groups, YOY retention is 3% higher in pilot divisions.
  • 70% of pilot divisions improved retention.

Quality of Hire

  • A new Quality of Hire survey was piloted within Interview Coach. As of July 2018, the emerging metric has launched company-wide.
  • Pilot areas increased by 4.8%; 64% of pilot divisions improved Quality of Hire.
  • Compared to control groups, Quality of Hire was 0.2% higher in pilot divisions.

Interviewer Quality

  • Coaches noted major skill improvements in key focus areas from Activity 1 to Activity 3.
  • Follow-up questioning improved by 9%.
  • Decision making improved by 16%.
  • Managers are reporting a significant increase in confidence in their own hiring decisions ─ a number that correlates to the people that have gone through certification.

Interviewer Confidence

  • Interviewer confidence in hiring decisions increased by 26% from before training (65%) to Activity Three (91%).

Candidate Experience

  • Overall candidate experience increased by 1% ─ pilot areas improved by 6%.
  • Though pilot groups started 11% pts. below control groups, they finished 5% ahead.
  • Pilot group’s delta (Q4 2018-Q1) is 17% pts. higher than control groups overall.

CXR Thought Leadership

DaVita’s largest takeaway over the two years spent developing this program is that change management processes are critical. Interviewers naturally have attachments to their interview style and it can be hard to change those habits. “Training and tools are great,” comments Drew, “but you have to give people the ‘why’ behind the process and have lots of open communication.” When interviewers understand how their behavior impacts candidate experience and hiring decisions, they become more open to trying something outside of their comfort zone.

Picture of Chris Hoyt

Chris Hoyt

A veteran of recruiting and HR, Hoyt is a sought-after speaker with presentations including national conferences with SHRM, LinkedIn, HR Technology, ERE and others in the USA as well as UNLEASH, iRecruit, Australasian Talent Conference and more abroad. Chris has been promoting and leading full scale and enterprise-wide integrations of social media and mobile marketing within workforce strategies for his entire career. His expertise and passion for interactive/social recruiting, candidate experience, and both national and international recruiting strategies are all areas that Hoyt now leverages as co-owner and President at CareerXroads, a Recruiting/Staffing consulting and think tank organization that works with corporate leaders from around the world to break out of traditional recruitment practices and push the envelope in an effort to win the ongoing war for top talent.

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