How to Conduct a Successful Interview

Challenge Consulting’s “Hiring Techniques to Secure the Best Candidates Every Time” learning and development workshop will provide all the techniques you need to conduct interviews with the confidence that you are hiring the best candidate for the position you are filling. 

To learn more, please visit our website’s Staff Development page here.

Interviewing is one of the most important steps in hiring a new employee. It is an opportunity to evaluate an applicant’s work experience as well as a chance to review the applicant’s specific skills and abilities (as prescribed by the job description). Interviews provide an opportunity to evaluate the applicant’s interpersonal and communication skills and to get a “feel” for their personality. The interview can also be used to verify qualifications and education as indicated on the resume.

The following tips will help you to conduct successful interviews. Remember to have fun with the process!! Effective interviews require time and effort, but it is a privilege to be involved in the hiring process. Effective interviews can be a great benefit to both you and your company by helping you to hire the best person to meet your needs.


Types of Interviews

The interviewer should decide what type of interview works best for them. Some interviewers prefer a more informal, relaxed type of interview while other people prefer a more formal, structured type of interview. Regardless of the type of interview, the interviewer should ensure that they effectively assess the qualifications of the applicant through the interview process.

When Utilising an Agency

Utilising an employment agency can be very helpful in finding the best candidate for the position. Utilising an employment agency to short-list applicants can streamline the process for the employer. It also affords more time for the interviewer to evaluate the personal traits of the applicants, therefore making it easier to identify the candidate who best fits the corporate culture of the organisation. Regardless if an employment agency is used, it is in the best interest of the employer to verify the applicant’s experience and qualifications.

Preparing for the Interview

TIP: When choosing an agency to help in the initial screening, find out what criteria they used.

  • Do they conduct testing? 
  • Do they only interview? 
  • Have references been checked for the short-listed candidates? 
  • Do you need to ask more technical questions or do you need to focus on questions assessing personal traits? 

This will help you determine the type of interview you will conduct.Being prepared for the interview is critical to the success of the hiring process. Knowing the particulars of the job such as salary, duties, education, etc. is the first step in finding the best candidate for the position. Look around at other staff, what personal attributes do they have that make them a vital asset to the company.

  • Prepare a list of questions as this helps to keep you focused on the important aspects of the job. 
  • Review the candidates’ resumes before they arrive.
  • Give yourself enough time for each interview.
  • Be prepared to answer questionsfrom each applicant.

Conducting the Interview

Interviews require active listening, not just hearing the words but also understanding “what is really being said”.

Maintain good eye contact and be aware of body language. Remember that verbal communication is a small percentage of effective communication so be aware of what is “not being said”…voice intonation or body language can reveal much information about a person.

Develop rapport. Try to make the interviewee as comfortable as possible. Determine if there is something of mutual interest that could be discussed briefly before starting the interview. This icebreaker technique will help both the interviewer and interviewee to relax.

Questioning Techniques

Discussing the advantages and benefits of the job during the interview may become essential in a very “hot” job market. If the job market is very active, attracting qualified candidates may prove to be a challenge. The interviewer may be required to do some promoting of the position/company in order to attract suitable candidates.

Open-ended Questions: You want to get as much information as possible from the candidate, so avoid yes or no questions. Try to ask open-ended questions where the interviewee will be required to provide examples and specific details in response to the questions.

Try not to anticipate answers.


Questions you can’t ask

Direct questions about family, marital status, age, religious or political affiliation are not permitted within the employment interview. 

Labour standards have determined that these questions are not relevant to a person’s ability to do the job. If you have concerns about certain issues, the question needs to be worded so that it is relevant to the job. 

For example, if you are concerned that family obligations will present a problem with required overtime, you might want to ask the following question: “Will working evenings or weekends interfere with your family situation?”

Check with local labour standards to find out more about what can and cannot be asked in conducting an employment interview.

Sample Questions

  • How does your past experience make you qualified for this particular position?
  • Tell me about your education/designation/courses? Which course(s) do you/did you like best? Why did you like it best? Which course did you dislike? Why?
  • What part of your job do you enjoy the most?
  • What part of your job could you could improve on?
  • What work-related accomplishment are you most proud of? Did it save the company money or time?
  • What additional responsibilities would you like to see in a new job?
  • Why are you looking for new employment?
  • How could you make your current job better?
  • Who do you use for references? What will they tell me about your performance, attendance, attitude, and teamwork skills?
  • Describe a difficult work situation with a co-worker and how did you resolve the situation?
  • Describe your ideal boss? What do you expect in regards to his/her management style?
  • Have you ever supervised people? If so, explain.
  • What creates stress for you on the job?
  • How do you eliminate stress in the workplace?
  • What value added can you bring to this new job?
  • What do you do in your spare time? What is your favorite hobby?
  • What are your salary expectations and when are you available to start?

Mistakes Interviewers Make

  • Talking too much. If the interviewer talks too much then several things happen: the interviewer does not gather enough information to make an informed decision about the applicant, the applicant feels that the interviewer may not be that interested in them or their application, and the process can not be used to adequately compare the skills and abilities of all the applicants being considered.
  • Accepting general answers. By not “digging” for more clear answers, you may not get a good feel for what the person can really offer you. Get them to describe information in detail or provide examples of when and how they used those skills.
  • Relying on memory instead of notes. When you are seeing several candidates in one day, it can become very confusing. Take notes…most candidates will understand if you have to pause between answers to document their answers. Once you have completed the interview process, it will be much easier to compare and rank the candidates. Detailed notes will help you identify the best person for the position.
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