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How to conduct the perfect job interview - tips for the interviewer

Our step-by-step guide to running a job interview will make the search for your next employee easier. It covers everything from what questions you should ask to the post-interview process, helping you hire the right person for the job.

1. Understand what you are looking for

Before the job interview starts, it’s important that you know what you’re looking for in a candidate. You need more than a well-written job description.

Think about how your ideal employee would behave in the role. As the interviewer, you need to ask interview questions that test your interviewee against your expectations.

Writing a checklist of these expectations will help you compare interviewees and make it easier for you to make a decision on who to hire.

2. Know what questions to ask

It’s essential you prepare a list of questions when running a job interview. The balance of question types is equally important.

You should include competency questions to see how the interviewee would approach the role. Character questions test how the candidate will fit with your team. Asking about career goals lets you learn what motivates your interviewee. Remember to ask open questions – that can’t be answered yes or no – to encourage the candidate to talk in more detail.  

Preparation is key: from greetings to the final question, make sure you have all bases covered.

3. Prepare beyond the job interview

Don’t underestimate the importance of little details in the job interview. You want your interviewee to be comfortable enough to get their true personality across.

Check the interview room, for example. Is it private and comfortable? Do you have water on the table? Or will you offer interviewees tea or coffee beforehand? Did you remember a spare pen?

Introducing candidates to your team members before the interview is a great way to see how they interact with people, while giving the interviewee a chance to learn about your company.

4. Practice makes perfect

Running through your questions and expectations with a colleague before an interview will boost your confidence.

It’s worth asking a second team member to join you in the interview to take notes. This gives you more time to focus on the interviewee and respond to their answers.

Colleagues are a good source of tips on how to run a job interview. They may be interested to get your interview advice too!

5. Make it a conversation

A job interview can be an insightful and enjoyable experience for interviewer and interviewee.

Help your interviewee get the most out of the session by putting them at ease at the start. Conversational questions will help you get to know the candidate, and encourage them to talk freely before the more challenging interview questions begin.

Follow the 80-20 rule of interviewing: let the interviewee talk 80% of the time.

6. Listen more

As the interviewer, you will be thinking about your questions and how to guide the job interview.

Remember that your aim is to learn about the candidate. A popular rule is speak 20% of the time and listen for 80% of the interview. Silence can be unnerving, but give your interviewee time to think about how to answer your questions – and resist the urge to break the silence yourself.

You should also encourage the candidate to ask their own questions, during the interview and at the end.

7. Be aware of ‘unconscious bias’

As the saying goes, don’t judge a book by its cover. You get your first impression of someone in just seven seconds, driven by your unconscious brain.

When running a job interview, it’s important that you are aware of this bias. Remind yourself not to make your final decision too quickly. Stick to your planned questions and use a standardised checklist to give every interviewee a fair chance.

8. Don’t promise what you can’t deliver

It’s natural to want to paint an positive picture of the job on offer. However, be careful not to misrepresent the role or your company.

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development describes this conversation as a “psychological contract”. If the reality of the job is different to the expectations set at interview then the psychological contract is broken, which can lead to a new hire leaving.

9. Consider the next steps

Running a job interview process doesn’t stop when the interviewee leaves the room.

Put yourself in the candidate’s shoes and think about how they experience the next steps. You should tell them when they can expect to hear back with a decision, and let them know if there are any delays in the process.

Don’t rush into a final decision during the interview itself. Take time to review your interviewees’ performance before updating everyone on the outcome.

Finally, always be willing to offer constructive feedback should an interviewee request it. 

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