Be sure you get the right employee.

An interview is a formal, in-depth conversation conducted to evaluate a candidate’s acceptability and competency for the particular position.

A behavioural interview is widely considered the most accurate type of selection interview. It is based on the understanding that past behaviour is the best way to predict future behavior that if someone has shown themselves to be an excellent team player or leader in the past, for example, they will be more likely to act this way in the future.

There are many steps involved in planning, conducting and evaluating a successful behavioural interview.


Best practice shows that a team interviewer format is better than a single interviewer format, and that the most successful interviews are conducted by those who are experienced and trained in the process. Ideally, one of the interviewers should be the direct supervisor of the position in question.

Well-prepared questions enable you to gather important information about a candidate’s past or current behaviour. These questions should correspond to the selection criteria you have developed for the position.

Questions should give you concrete examples of the candidate’s strengths and elicit specific examples from their past work experience.

When planning an interview you will also need to:

  • Prepare a detailed interview guide to help you structure the interview.
  • Develop an interview guide and rating scale so you can consistently and fairly evaluate each candidate.
  • Determine each interviewer’s role.
  • Review the candidate’s application documents.


There are five major steps in conducting an interview:

  1. Open the interview.
  2. Ask questions about the application materials.
  3. Ask the prepared questions and take notes.
  4. Answer the candidate’s questions about the position.
  5. Close the interview.


To ensure that evaluations are thorough, consistent and fair, each interviewer should independently evaluate each candidate immediately after the interview. This involves:

  • Rating how well the candidate meets each of the selection criteria.
  • Developing an overall suitability rating for each candidate.

Interviewers should then meet as a group to reach consensus on which candidate is best suited for the position based on a satisfactory reference and background check.

A job interview is the first part of hiring and keeping good workers. Asking the right questions makes you as a manager more likely to select the best candidate for the job. If you don’t have good interviewing skills, you may end up offering a job to someone who is a poor fit for the job or the company.

Competition abounds for skilled and talented workers. Therefore, there is both an art and a science to hiring qualified employees. You must be a good listener, which means knowing how to reframe or redirect a conversation. In addition, you must be able to distinguish between people who want the job and the perfect candidate for the job.

Despite the economic volatility of the past few years, conducting a successful interview can help you secure the best candidates for the job. The following tips may help you with the screening process:

  • Prepare. Although it seems obvious, many hiring managers do not familiarize themselves with a candidate’s resume and other paperwork before the interview. Not being familiar with a candidate’s information is not only rude, but also indicates to the candidate that you are disorganized and poorly prepared.
  • Set the tone. Tell the candidates that you are glad to meet them and express your appreciation that they have come in for the interview. Use this time also to explain the interview procedure ? and then follow that format as closely as you can.
  • Prepare a script. Having several questions prepared beforehand is very valuable. In fact, many human resources departments have prepared sets of questions that can be used as a guide. Even though you are busy (aren’t all managers), it is very important to ask both open-ended questions as well as those that require detailed responses. For example, it is fine to ask what led the candidate to apply to the position. However, you may learn more from questions like, “Give me an example of when you had trouble meeting a deadline. How did you handle it?” Try to ask a mix of questions to gain insights into the candidates behavior, opinions, experience, and backgrounds. Your goal for the interview is to leave the room with a good sense of the candidate’s strengths, weaknesses, likes, and dislikes.
  • Listen to your instincts. Some candidates seem too good to be true, while others seem to lack the skills you need. As you assess the interview, be honest about your interviewing performance as well as the candidate’s performance. It may be that you need to pose more pointed questions or ask about different experiences. However, that said, a person’s ability to do a job will not change, no matter what questions you ask.
  • Know what you’re looking for. Be clear on the skill-set required for the position to avoid asking irrelevant questions and confusing the candidate. Making a list can help you ask pointed questions. When the candidate leaves the interview, they should have a sense of whether they would be a good fit for the job.
  • Manage your time. Do your best to stick with the schedule set aside for the meeting. However, you should be prepared to jump straight to the conclusion questions if the candidate is not qualified. There is no point wasting either of your time if the candidate is not a good match for the job.
  • Write it down. No matter what you think, you will not remember everything that is said during an interview. Take notes so that your memory will be triggered when it’s time to review the meeting. The more people you interview for the position, the more important note-taking becomes.
  • Don’t forget that you are being interviewed as well. You must be aware of the impression you are making on the candidate. You are trying to sell yourself, the company, and the job to the candidates just as they are selling themselves to you. Be ready to talk about the company and the position. The more you know, the better, since the candidates will depend on you to educate them.

Finding out if a candidate can do the job is easier to determine than whether the candidate will be the right fit for the job. The questions you ask in the interview process have to determine both. Your interview objective is to find out about the candidate:

  • “Can-Do” Skills: Verify their experience and skills as soon as possible to get a clear impression of the candidate’s viability.
  • “Will-Do” Skills: Find out about their values, culture, and temperament for the bulk of the interview process.

As interviewer, you play an important role. Keep these factors in mind as you prepare for the interview:

  • Be polite and professional. Remember that you’re representing your company’s brand and image. Also keep in mind that the candidate is evaluating you, too!
  • Be objective. Be friendly but don’t get too chummy. Keep all your questions job-related so that your hiring decision is based on qualifications, not just personality.
  • Don’t talk too much. Allow candidates time to describe their skills and qualifications during the interview while you make sure you’ve covered all your questions and haven’t missed anything.
  • Watch nonverbal signals. Watch for eye contact. Does the candidate communicate confidence?
  • Avoid personal questions. How can you keep the interview legal? It is illegal to ask questions that reference age, height/weight, marital status, disabilities, citizenship, arrest record, military service, etc.

Sample questions to ask:

  • What makes you interested in this position?
  • Tell me about your skills and strengths.
  • Talk about your related job experience.
  • How would you solve this problem? (Ask about a specific scenario related to the job opening.)
  • Tell me how you managed a work-related problem that you created?
  • What motivates you?
  • What new skills have you learned in the past year?
  • What skills have been most useful in your professional life?
  • How would you describe a great work environment?

Interview Dos and Don?ts