When a co-worker is ready for a new job in the workplace, you may find yourself faced with the challenge of having to interview her as you would any other job candidate. That has the potential to be pretty awkward -- or perhaps even easier than other interviews; after all, you probably already know her strengths and weaknesses, her work habits, and any personal issues that may conflict with doing her job properly. While this interview is bound to be different than other job candidates' interviews, do what you can to keep the playing field even.
Do some brainstorming ahead of time about things you've observed in the co-worker in the past. Consider things such as whether she shows up on time, her level of interaction with other people in the office – either too much or too little – and the quality of her work. Look for patterns in the person's behavior that may be worth discussing in the interview. If you don't work closely with the co-worker, ask other people with whom she works to describe her work style in a few words, and to mention anything that stands out about her performance.
Formulate a few questions based on your research and brainstorming. If you've noticed that she leaves early or stays late, you may ask about the reasons. If she continually has conflicts with certain people or departments, create a question that asks her to describe the conflicts. If she's going to be moving into a role that is completely different and doesn't seem to apply to her current skill set, create a question about how she will overcome the issue.
Treat the co-worker as you would any other job candidate during the interview. Be cordial but not overly friendly; if your employer is concerned with finding the best person for the job, you don't want to give this co-worker any special treatment.
Ask the co-worker to address any issues that have popped up in the past related to her job performance. Try to do this in a non-accusatory way, asking her to describe the experiences in her own words. When you're interviewing a stranger, you may ask the person to "tell you about a time when they had a conflict with another co-worker." This is a variation on the same thing – only you're likely to have the other side of the story to consider as well.
Score the co-worker's responses as fairly as you can. While it may be tempting to allow your personal feelings to affect your ratings, it's important to try to treat her the same as everyone else. The company leaders likely want to find the best person for the job, so don't let your personal feelings get in the way. If, however, you know the co-worker's performance to be in question, try to find a way to convey that opinion to the employers in a tactful way, and let the company leaders sort out what to do.
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.