How to Script an Interview

A scripted interview sheet is helpful when you have multiple interviewers.

A scripted interview sheet is helpful when you have multiple interviewers.

When you are interviewing candidates for an open position at your company, you need to devise a way screen all candidates fairly. One way to do this is to create an interview script that asks the same questions of each candidate, covering topics such as work experience, skills, and education and training. If you are conducting the interview with other members of your hiring staff, it can be even more important to develop this interview script, as it ensures that all members of the hiring staff are on the same page.

Have a discussion with the other hiring staff members to outline the important skills, education or traits you are looking for in the ideal candidate. Make a list of these traits and then group them into categories such as "necessary," "ideal" and "a big plus." If you have developed a job posting, you likely have done some of the leg work for this already; use the job posting to identify those traits that are necessary, ideal or a "big plus" in a candidate.

Develop two to three introductory questions that give you and the job candidate a few minutes to warm up. Write these questions at the top of your interview script sheet. Warm-up questions may include asking the candidate how she found out about the position, what she knows about the company or more casual questions about the weather or her mode of transportation to get to the interview site.

Write down an estimated amount of time you would like to spend on each question. Writing down the timing for each question will help you and the other hiring managers stay on the set time schedule.

Create a section of your interview sheet that includes questions about the "necessary" traits of the job. If you're interviewing a candidate for a manager position, you may want her to have experience in management, and to describe her management style and how her education gave her the right skills. If you are hiring a ski instructor, you may want to know how many years of experience she has teaching skiing. Arguably, this is the most important section of the interview, as it helps to weed out candidates who may have specified the "necessary" traits on their resume, but during the interview, you find out they really don't have what you need. If you get through this section and find that the candidate doesn't have what you want, you may be able to stop after this section and thank the candidate for her time.

Create a section that asks a few questions about the "ideal" facets of the job. This section may include items that are less concrete; you may want your ideal candidate to know a great deal about your part of town, for example, or to speak a second language. Separating these questions from the "necessary" section may make it easier to make a decision between two good candidates after the interviews.

Create a section that asks a few questions about the "big pluses" you want to see in a candidate. You may choose to ask a candidate an open-ended question in this category -- asking them what they have that makes them extra-special, or you may have noticed something in a candidate's resume that you want to discuss. If you are interviewing with a team of hiring managers and you have something specific you want to discuss with just one candidate, be sure to tailor the script for that individual or include that information on each hiring manager's interview script.

Allow for time for the interviewee to rate her eligibility for the position. One way to do this is to ask the candidate "“How do you see yourself in relation to this job?" advises the New York State Department of Civil Service. This not only gives the candidate a chance to sell herself, but it makes it possible for you to see if you have described the job adequately enough for candidates to understand it.

Tip

  • Also consider adding a rating system next to each question or section. On your interview form, write a series of numbers from 1 to 5, for example, and ask each interviewer to rate the candidate's responses as you go along.
 

About the Author

Nicole Vulcan has been a journalist since 1997, covering parenting and fitness for The Oregonian, careers for CareerAddict, and travel, gardening and fitness for Black Hills Woman and other publications. Vulcan holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism from the University of Minnesota. She's also a lifelong athlete and is pursuing certification as a personal trainer.

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