How to conduct a job interview
Our advice on how to interview someone
On the surface you may wonder "how hard can it be to conduct a job interview?" Doing it well can really affect the level of engagement you have with each candidate, allowing you both to make a better judgement on suitability for a particular role.
Everyone has their own style of interviewing, sometimes honed after years of practicing, but you want to find what works for you. So, read our steps below to ensure your job interviews are effective for both interviewer and candidate.
Best practices for how to conduct a job interview:
Do your homework
Before you go into the room, you should know exactly what it is you're looking for from a candidate, and what the ideal candidate will look like in terms of skills, experience, mindset and cultural fit.
You should also make sure you have read through each candidate's CV thoroughly so you know what to ask. Read our separate articles on writing a job spec and evaluating candidates, and spotting CV red flags to find out more about this.
If you haven't conducted a job interview before make sure you check up on your company policies or employment legislation, alongside working out how long an interview should last for. There are certain things you have to ask all candidates for fairness and, of course, some absolute no-goes. The last thing you want is legal trouble before you've even hired anybody!
Consult with a recruitment consultant or employment legislation expert if you are unsure about anything.
When conducting the interview:
Thoroughly explain the process. Put each candidate's mind at rest by letting them know how the interview will be conducted – will it be formal? Will it be marked and recorded? Will they have a chance to ask questions? Whatever the setup, let them know, so they can relax and give you a fair account of their abilities and suitability for the role.
There may be occasions when you want to see how candidates react in challenging situations, but generally speaking you want to make sure they're comfortable and aware of the process.
Conversation not interrogation
The best interviews are actually conversations. You may well have your set list of questions, but the more you can make the interview flow, the better. It's ok if the candidate wants to take a few seconds before answering. Give the conversation room to breathe. You may want to take notes, and you may want to ask a follow-up question, but always give the candidate an opportunity to answer properly first. Do them the honour of listening attentively, and let their responses shape the direction of the conversation.
Encourage the candidate to ask questions too - about you, the team, the role, or anything else. Again, listen and give them a friendly and thorough answer. The facts and how you tell them should be enough to give the candidate a good impression of the organisation.
And for advice on rounding it off, read our article on how to close an interview »