How to Conduct a Job Interview

Learning how to conduct a job interview can be a challenging task, but an important one to get right. After all, you want to make sure you’re asking the right questions and interviewing in the best way so that you can determine which of your candidates is most suitable for the job. Whatever type of interview you choose, you need to prepare effectively.

Make sure that the candidate has information about the role

Make sure that all candidates shortlisted for interview have a copy of the job profile or job description. This will allow them to prepare for interview in the best way possible, and ensure there are no surprises when it comes to what the job involves.

Allow enough time

It sounds simple, but a common mistake is not allowing enough time to conduct an interview and then debrief afterwards. Sort out a schedule with everyone who needs to be involved and stick to it as closely as possible. Decide how long each interview will take, and communicate that to your candidates.

If you're setting up a series of interviews across one day, allow a minimum of half an hour between each so you have buffer time for any that overrun, and so that you have time to debrief with your fellow interviewers, or write any notes, prior to the next interview.

Be flexible

Try and be as flexible as you can with candidates. They are likely to have current jobs that they need to work around, or families to juggle. Try to give more than one option for the date/time for interview, if possible.

Organise a suitable interview space

Remember to book a room! Simple things often get overlooked. Make sure you have a quiet space booked for the interview and that your colleagues are aware so that you aren’t interrupted.

During the interview, look to roughly follow this process:

Welcome the candidate and thank them for coming. Introduce yourself and briefly explain what the interview will involve. Put them at ease with some general conversation and offer them a drink before the interview begins.

Don’t just launch straight into asking questions. Set the context by giving a brief overview of your business and giving some information about the role.

Then begin your questions. Asking them to talk you through elements of their CV can be a good starting point to put the candidate at ease, whilst giving you the opportunity to ask any questions.

Ask open-ended questions so that the candidate has the opportunity to express themselves fully. Give them time to answer fully and make notes of interesting or important points that they make so that you can reflect on them later.

A job interview is as much for the candidate to find out if they would like to work for you as it is for you to see if you would like them to join your team. Always talk about the positive aspects of your business. If it’s helpful, think of them as a client that you are hoping to do business with - you want to impress them!

At the end of the interview, ask the candidate if they have any questions. Then let them know about the next stage of the process – will there be a second round of interviews? How quickly can they expect to hear from you? Once all questions have been asked and answered, thank the candidate for their time.

Then use your buffer time before any following interviews to write up any notes. Never presume you’ll remember everything – it can be difficult to remember who said what after a day of interviews.