Interviewing job candidates

An interview helps you decide whether a candidate is suitable for a job. During the interview, you can find out more about candidates' skills, knowledge, experience and personal attributes. You can also get an idea about how well they will fit into the culture of your business.

Inviting candidates to interview

Once you have reviewed all the applications for a job, you can invite your shortlisted candidates to an interview.

Contact candidates by letter, phone, or email. Decide whether you will interview them by phone or in person, or both.

If you are interviewing candidates in person, make sure you ask them to confirm they will be attending, and give them all the details about the interview, including:

  • when and where it will take place and how to get there
  • how long it should take
  • who they should ask for when they arrive
  • what documents they should bring, such as samples of their work or certificates
  • the names and job titles of the people conducting the interview
  • what the interview will involve, such as a test or presentation.

Preparing for interviews

To get the most out of interviews, it's important to prepare by familiarising yourself with the candidates' applications and the job description.

Think about what else you want to know about the candidates and prepare a set of questions. You should ask each candidate the same questions to keep the interviews equal.

Make sure your questions don't breach any:

If you are conducting the interview with others, decide who will ask which questions. Prepare a standard evaluation form for yourself and the other interviewers to help ensure each interview is consistent - this helps you avoid bias.

Ensure your receptionist and other relevant colleagues are aware of the interview schedule.

Conducting interviews

Remember that interviews can be stressful. You will get more useful information from candidates if you try to put them at ease. Create a friendly environment and conduct the interview in an area that is free from interruptions.

When conducting an interview, you should:

  • introduce yourself and the other people present
  • explain how the interview will be run
  • outline your business and the job
  • encourage the candidate to talk about their skills, knowledge and experience
  • focus on what you want to achieve in the interview and try not to get sidetracked
  • ask open-ended questions that can't be answered with a yes or no
  • keep the candidate talking - try not to interrupt them and prompt them if you want more information
  • if you're asking standard questions, all candidates should be prompted in the same way
  • take notes during the interview
  • ask the candidate if they have any questions
  • let the candidate know what the next steps will be - a reference check, another round of interviews, a test, or when you think you will make a decision
  • thank the candidate for their time.

Review your notes immediately after the interview. You might need to expand on points, summarise answers and record facts. After you have conducted all the interviews, use your notes to help you decide who to appoint.