Interviewing candidates for your vacant position is crucial in determining the best person for the job. How to interview candidates is about asking the right questions and using the right approach, to help you will learn vital information about applicants, including their qualifications and personality.
The job interview is also a superb opportunity for testing candidate skills, exposing red flags, assessing how they work under pressure, and finding out if the individual will match the company’s culture.
To help you prepare for and conduct effective candidate interviews, we take you step-by-step through the process.
Preparation is critical to ensure you and the candidate get the most from the interview. Begin by creating a list of responsibilities and qualifications needed to complete the role. You may need to speak to the appropriate manager or supervisor overseeing the position or refer to the job description and job advert for these details.
Next, create a list of interview questions, considering job-specific and common questions. You will likely want to enquire further about the candidate’s qualifications and experience. It would help if you also spent a moment thinking about what the candidate might ask you. It helps to review your company’s goals and values and prepare a pitch that promotes your company as a desirable place to work.
Finally, review the candidate’s CV and determine what you would like the candidate to elaborate on. You might be able to gain valuable insights into what they are like by searching for their social media account, such as their LinkedIn profile.
Follow a consistent interview structure: The interview process
A consistent interview structure for the same position is vital if you want to make effective comparisons later. It would help if you looked to ask the same questions and follow an interview template to ensure discussions don’t go off track.
It can help to start with a brief description of your company and the role, followed by your interview questions. Ensure you allow candidates to ask their questions, which in turn can be valuable and insightful.
Essential resources for structured interviews
Optimise your hiring process and conduct effective interviews with these resources:
- Formatted interview structure
- A guide on how to hire
- How to conduct phone interviews
- Job description templates
- Job advert templates
- Flat fee recruitment solutions
- Questions not to ask in an interview
- Should salary be discussed in an interview
Document the interview
If you are running a succession of candidate interviews, taking notes will be crucial when reviewing applicants and determining a shortlist or making a hiring decision. If you want to focus on the discussion, could you ask another employee to sit in and take notes on your behalf?
When you hire a candidate, your interview questions are vital. A selection of good hiring questions include:
- Why do you want a job with our company?
- How will your previous job role as X help you succeed here?
- How can we improve our efficiency or focus?
- Tell me about your current position and the specific details of your job?
- How do you make good decisions?
- How would you describe yourself to a colleague?
- What motivates you at work?
- Tell me about your most recent success?
- What is your greatest weakness and how will you overcome it?
Delve deeper to quantify skills
Don’t take what the candidate states on their resume or says during the interview as fact. Delve a little deeper by, for example, asking for specific sales figures or for an example of how they successfully solved a customer dispute.
If you want to check the validity of their statements, record the facts and figures quoted by the individual and ask for them again later in the interview. If they don’t match, challenge candidates because this could signify that they are not truthful about information such as sales numbers.
You can gain further insights by asking why the individual applied for the position, their career goals, and where they see themselves in ten years. Write out your questions before the interview and leave a space to write notes.
Determine salary expectations
To avoid later disappointment, enquire about the candidate’s salary expectations. You can then determine where to position your job offer.
Outline the next steps
Finalise the interview by explaining the next steps in your interview and hiring process. It would be best to let the applicant know when they will hear from you, about further interviews, and the onboarding timeline.
Be a good listener and show each candidate genuine interest. You will encourage the individual to share more information. Also, look for clues in their body language that reveal their level of interest and honesty.
When conducting an interview, try to follow these rules to get the most satisfactory results:
- Do – ensure question consistency across all candidates
- Do – stay focused on the candidate and show interest
- Do – review and understand the candidate’s CV
When hiring avoid these don’ts:
- Don’t – let candidates steer the interview and veer off-topic
- Don’t – take over the interview, giving candidates little time to speak
- Don’t – let personal biases affect your opinion
How to interview candidates FAQs
It will help you to follow our interview tips and the process set out here as a guide. Be prepared to start the conversation in a timely manner to have sufficient time to assess the applicant. Begin by giving the job candidate an overview of yourself, or the team, if you are running a panel interview. However, keep small talk limited to maximise the time you have for assessing the potential new hire.
Ensure the job candidate is comfortable and put them at ease by showing them an overview of the interview process. It is helpful to have the current job description for the particular position at hand and the job candidates’ resume, which will help you ask relevant questions.
The top five specific questions to ask in an interview that will help you determine if job candidates are a good fit include:
1. How do you make good decisions?
2. How would you describe yourself to a colleague?
3. What motivates you at work?
4. Tell me about your most recent success?
5. What is your greatest weakness, and how will you overcome it?
A formatted interview structure is one of the most preferred interview techniques of hiring managers. The STAR interview technique (Situation, Task, Action, Result) is also helpful, along with using a selection of competency-based interview questions and situational questions.
You might start with telephone interviews to talk to job candidates, screening them to assess their professional experience to see if they are the right person for the open position before moving on to remote interviews or in-person interviews.
Good hiring questions to ask candidates, assess their skills, and gain valuable information from their answers include:
1. Why do you want a job with our company?
2. How will your previous job role as X help you succeed here?
3. How can we improve our efficiency or focus?
4. Tell me about your current position and the specific details of your job?
These interview questions and answers will help you gain insight into if the applicant is interested in the challenge and professional development across short-term roles up to a management position.
How to conduct an interview: An interview checklist you are looking to hire for your company, you need to prepare for interviewing. Interview preparation should include:
1. Prepare your job description
2. Assess your company values by speaking to the team and managers
3. Prepare the interview questions to ask employees, considering the STAR method
4. Review resumes ahead of interviewing
5. Introduce yourself and the company to the candidates
6. Explain the process of your meeting to candidates
7. Ask your questions and document the answer to each to ensure you record each valuable insight
8.. Wrap up the meeting and explain to job seekers the next steps in your process to hire