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The interview room: how to interview

01 Sep 09

Interviews can be stressful for both hiring managers and candidates, regardless of the level of role.

For hiring managers it means taking time out of a busy and pressurised working day to interview for key roles that  could make a big difference to their businesses. In this busy environment it’s easy to overlook the preparation that is required before interviewing, but some planning and structure can make the experience easier and more pleasant for  both parties. What follows is a guide to assist.

Take a few moments and prepare for each interview.
Take the time to read the candidate’s CV and list a few questions regarding any points of interest that you’d like to discuss during the interview. Also know your job description well and understand the skills and experience you’re looking for.

Greet the candidate with a handshake.
When you meet your candidate always greet them with a handshake – not a  vice-like grip – and introduce yourself. After you’ve led them into the interview room it’s sometimes nice to make a   bit of chat to ease any tension. Questions such as ‘No problems finding us today?’ or ‘How is your morning going?’  can be good icebreakers.

Explain the interview format.
Once the interview starts, explain the format of the interview and then summarise your company, the role that you have  available and why it exists.
Use open-ended questions.
Start with a few general, open-ended questions that will give you an understanding of the lay of the land.  Opened-ended questions to consider might be: ‘Tell me about your current situation with regard to employment’ or  ‘Tell me about yourself’, which gets them talking and feeling comfortable.

Ask about their work history.
Next, lead in to more specific questions about the roles they’ve worked in before, starting with the most recent.  Questions probing their interest in their current role, what they enjoy about it and why they might be leaving are useful.  Also ask them to outline a typical day in their current role. Other questions that might reveal some interesting  information include: ‘How is your performance measured in this role?’, ‘Have you achieved the set goals for this role?’,  and ‘How does your performance compare to the rest of the team?’.

Follow with some questions surrounding motivation.
After you’ve gone through the relevant roles on their CV, ask some general questions that will give you an insight into their motivation. These could include questions about the type of role they are looking for, their areas of interest and  expertise, their personal sense of self worth (‘Do you consider yourself successful?’, ‘Are there any areas you need to  improve on that are relevant to a new role?’, ‘How would your most recent boss describe you and would they hire you  again?’), and questions surrounding their personality, such as how they like to be managed, how their friends  would describe them, how well they work in a team and where they see themselves in five years’ time.

To wrap up, summarise the role again.
Once you’ve finished, summarise the role once more, its major focus and what type of background or person you’re  seeking. You might like to ask what the candidate knows about your organisation and why you should consider their  application. This is their final chance to really sell themselves. If they know nothing about your organisation and haven’t  done any research, I’d see this as a warning sign.

In closing:
Thank them for their time and let them know what the process will be from here. Make sure you always shake hands  when they depart, as this is professional and marks the end of the interview.

Never ask the following:

Certain questions are prohibited by law and should never be asked in an interview. These include questions surrounding  age, physical attributes, religion, race, sexual orientation, marital status and others. For more information,consult the Human Rights Act 1993 at

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