Basic Steps on How to Conduct an Interview

An interview can fly by, so be sure to craft your questions wisely.

An interview can fly by, so be sure to craft your questions wisely.

Even if you don't work in the human resources department, you might at some point have to conduct a job interview. In fact, it’s common for companies to subject job candidates to a round of interviews with multiple managers or supervisors to get a consensus on a new hire. For these reasons, it helps to know some basic steps to follow when conducting an interview so you can proceed with skill and confidence.

Review an applicant’s resume and supporting materials before the interview. Jot notes to use as talking points or questions in the margins.

Meet with your co-workers if you’re adopting a “team interview” strategy. Suggest covering different lines of questioning to avoid duplicity. Ensure that everyone agrees on the appropriate skill set that the job requires including those traits and skills that are most important to you.

Create a list of questions -- a "script" for your interview. Structure them so that they move from the general like, “So how did you hear about this job?” to the more specific. Consider a mix of fact-finding, behavioral, situational, creative, problem-solving and self-assessment questions. Remember that open-ended questions such as, "Would you please tell me about the dynamic among the creative team at your previous job?” will provide greater insights than closed questions like, “Did you like your last job?”

Evaluate your questions to ensure that each one is relevant. Each question should serve a purpose so you gain the information you need to hear.

Greet the job applicant warmly and put her at ease by engaging in some friendly icebreakers, such as, “How was your ride over here?” or “Do you think it will ever stop raining out there?” Offer her some water or coffee. Then briefly explain what will go on during your interview and how long is will last. For example, if you're one of several people interviewing the candidate, let her know what you intend to discuss so that she knows what to expect.

Take good notes during the interview, but don’t let your note taking overtake your ability to listen attentively and maintain eye contact with the job applicant.

Cover the areas you told the candidate you would discuss so you convey a sense of order and organization. If the interview is going well and you want to ask additional questions and/or extend your conversation, simply ask the applicant if she's OK with that.

Give the applicant sufficient time to ask questions. If appropriate, take the applicant on a short tour of your company. Savvy job applicants are not just looking for a job or any job; they're looking for the right fit and are evaluating you during the interview, too. To ensure a good fit for both of you, provide the applicant with as much honest information as you can so that she can make an informed decision, if it comes to that.

Thank the applicant for taking the time to interview with you. Demonstrate good manners by walking her to the door. As you shake her hand, explain how you expect the process to proceed. Let her know when you expect to make a decision if you haven't already discussed it.

Tip

  • Put your personal experience to good use during interviews. For example, if your last few hires were good at crafting marketing campaigns but weak at implementing them, be sure to ask probing, thought-provoking questions about implementation to avoid making a poor hiring decision.
 

About the Author

With education, health care and small business marketing as her core interests, M.T. Wroblewski has penned pieces for Woman's Day, Family Circle, Ladies Home Journal and many newspapers and magazines. She holds a master's degree in journalism from Northern Illinois University.

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