Human Resources and Management

Interviewing Guidelines

Some people think managers and HR personnel are born with an innate ability to conduct good interviews. Nothing could be further from the truth. A person may have great interpersonal skills, but that does not ensure that he or she will be a good interviewer. Good interviewing skills must be learned and rehearsed. The following guidelines may be helpful to you in preparing for and conducting interviews.

Before an Interview

  • Plan sufficient time for the interview.

  • Set up a comfortable and private room.

  • Prevent all cell phone or pager calls or other interruptions during an interview.

  • Review the application and resume and prepare interview questions.

  • Schedule interviews in the morning whenever possible. People tend to be fresh and at their best in the morning.

During an Interview

  • State the purpose of the interview at the beginning and tell the interviewee how much time will be allowed for the interview.

  • Break the ice. Put the interviewee at ease by engaging in small talk before the serious questions begin.

  • Always maintain a cheerful and professional tone.

  • Take notes during the interview that will help you remember the strengths and weaknesses of the candidate. Notes will also help you remember to ask questions that need further clarification during the interview.

  • Ask interview questions that directly relate to the know-how skills required to be successful on the job. Example: Speaking Spanish is a requirement for this position. Describe your formal training and informal experiences with speaking Spanish.

  • Ask open-ended questions that cannot be answered with a simple yes or no. Example: What duties or experiences at your current or previous positions have helped prepare you to be successful at performing this job?

  • Ask questions about motivation, problem-solving skills, interpersonal skills, integrity, and flexibility. Discuss strengths and weaknesses of the candidate and why she or he should be hired. Example: What aspect of this job do you think you would find most challenging, and how would you meet this challenge?

  • Give the applicant sufficient time to respond to each question.

  • Give the applicant an opportunity to ask questions. Example: What questions do you have about this position or our company?

  • Follow the same methods each time you interview. Use the same questions for each interview, perhaps stated in slightly different ways. Allow the same time for each interview and provide each candidate with the same opportunities to explain her or his know-how skills.

  • At the close of the interview, let the applicant know how she or he will be contacted regarding obtaining or not obtaining the position.

Avoid During an Interview

  • Avoid nodding, pausing, and repeating everything the candidate has said.

  • Do not become so focused on one aspect (skill, education, experience, personality) of the candidate that you are blind to other aspects or a lack of know-how skills that may make the candidate unsuitable for the position. This situation is referred to as the halo effect.

  • Do not treat the interview as a casual meeting requiring no preparation. Prepare interview questions and review the candidate's resume in advance of the interview.

  • When conducting several interviews for the same position, do not use different interview questions in the various interviews or allow more time for some interviews than for others.

  • Avoid talking more than 15 percent of the time. Let the applicant do most of the talking.

  • Avoid questions or comments that are unfair or discriminatory. Do not ask questions about age, health condition, family status, nationality, sex, religion, political affiliation, or race.