Whether you are an experienced interviewer or preparing to meet your very first candidate, knowing a few fundamentals of employment interviewing will help you conduct efficient and effective interviews.
- Here are some simple steps to avoid common interview mistakes
- Prepare thoroughly, with a good understanding of the job
- Get your administration in order – have all the paperwork and the meeting logistics organised
- Explain the format, style and timeframe of the interview up front
- Focus your questions on job-related evidence
- Don’t ask too many closed or leading questions
- Make sure to move beyond the information on the CV or application form
- Probe the candidate’s claims, especially skill assertions
- Establish and check all important facts, and summarise
- Make sure all your questions are relevant, comprehensible and lawful
Closed questions tend to close a candidate down. If used well, they establish useful facts:
“What class was your degree? Did you complete it?”
“How many new customers did you win last week?”
However, closed questions are often used badly, e.g.
“Did you enjoy your last job?”, “Did that lead to promotion?”, Would you describe yourself as computer literate?”
Open questions are designed to encourage the candidate to talk, and to broaden out areas of information. They encourage frank disclosure in candidates, and should seek evidence of actual experience. Open questions may start with WHY, WHAT, WHERE, HOW – but a good opener is always
“Tell me about…”
Probing questions are generally more complex and can be used when a candidate is more relaxed, e.g.
“Tell me more about the problems you faced”
“Tell me about a time when you had to deal with a difficult team member
Leading to very high order questions such as
“What would you say was your greatest achievement?”
Question Styles to Avoid
Inappropriate Closed – Usually a succession of questions beginning “Did you…?” or “Have you…?”
Leading – Questions which encourage the candidate down a predictable path, e.g. “This role requires great attention to detail. How would you fit in?”
Multiple – Asking several questions at once, or questions with multiple alternatives.
Fantasy – Questions which have nothing to do with the job, e.g. “If you could be an animal in the jungle, what animal would you be?”Back