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Best practices for interviewing

General tips and best practices for designing and running an interview

Josh Spencer avatar
Written by Josh Spencer
Updated over a week ago

According to leading research (McCarthy et al, 2017; Salgado & Moscoso, 2011), the job interview is the most widely accepted and utilised selection method by recruiters and candidates alike and plays a central role in making hiring decisions.

However, its predictive power depends on doing it right, which involves structuring the process to overcome the limitations of unstructured interviews.

Unstructured interviews…

  • Leave too much room for subjectivity, favorability cues, and adverse impact

  • Put you at risk of overlooking critical skills and experiences relevant to job performance

  • Can inadvertently introduce biases and disparities in the hiring process

  • And most critically… limit your ability to accurately predict a candidate's job performance

Here are some tips and best practices to get it right!

Interview process design

Measure what matters

Review the job requirements. What competencies are vital for successful performance on the job? What situation-behaviour-result (SBR) type questions will give the candidate the opportunity to present that competency? What guidelines or examples can be used to align the assessment of that competency amongst multiple interviewers?

Clear intentions with each interview

After establishing what is important to assess in an interview, the conversation turns to when it should be assessed.

The goal, when designing one's interview process should be for it to be as predictive and candidate friendly as possible. Creating a clear purpose/intention for each interview and ensuring there is little-to-no overlap between interviews in terms of questions/assessment is critical.

Same interviewers

Having the same set of interviewers assess all candidates for the role is desirable. In this way, differences between interviewers and the effects that can have on interview assessment are minimised.

Before the interview

Interviewer preparation

Read through the interview guide and familiarize yourself with the questions and scoring guidelines for each. This will help you assess candidates more effectively during the interview.

Although it is well-intentioned and can make you feel prepared before the interview, research shows that searching for information from social media and other online sources before the interview will do more harm than good for the fairness of the interview. Try to avoid falling into this trap!

Candidate preparation

We all want our candidates to perform well! So, to set them up for success, it's important to be transparent with the candidate about the format, who will attend, provide examples of the types of questions that will be asked (SBR), and how you plan to assess the interview. This information will reduce stress and increase the preparedness of your candidates.

During the interview

Making the candidate feel at ease during the interview will help you get better information. Some tips for achieving this include:

  • use a gentle tone

  • use the candidate's name

  • display a relaxed posture

  • act friendly

  • spend some time getting to know the candidate before getting to the actual structured questions

Introduction phase

This is the phase where you align on the discussion you are about to have.

Remember to start the interview by introducing yourself, asking the candidate about their experience with the process so far, and ensuring they understand the purpose/structure of the interview. This is important to establish rapport and set a good tone for the interview, which in turn improves the candidate experience. 

Allow some time for answering questions from the candidate. This will improve their experience of the interview, which is important for attracting them to the job and your company as an employer.

Structured interview phase

This is the phase where you ask your pre-determined questions.

The main purpose of the interview is to collect information that can be used to make a fair judgement of the candidate. Try to avoid making any judgements or final decisions in this phase, focus instead on making sure you collect the information you need. Take notes as needed.

Try to score the answers during the interview, in that way you will be the most objective. Otherwise, make sure you complete the scorecard right after the interview.

If the candidate can't think of an example, skip the question and come back to it later.

Closing phase

This is the phase where you sum up and finalize the interview.

Ask how the candidate experienced the interview. Then, revisit the next steps in the process and make sure there are no remaining questions or concerns.

After the interview

Make sure you have the scorecard completed as soon as possible after the interview and do not consult any other interviewers before documenting your own impressions.

Visit our article on how best to review the interview results.

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