How to Conduct a Job Interview

Interview Prep

Learning how to conduct a job interview looks easier than it is. And that's the problem. The vast majority of managers and small business owners take conducting an interview for granted. The interview process should be structured and well planned. Establishing a consistent, methodical approach is important.

Conducting an interview is one stage of the hiring process where it's not advisable to be creative or spontaneous. By having a system in place that allows an objective standard on which to base your decisions, you'll overcome interviewing pitfalls and identify the best person for the position.

Conducting an Interview: The Basics

Knowing how to conduct an interview also means knowing how to prepare for the meeting. Here's a checklist of things hiring managers should do before conducting an interview:

  • Thoroughly familiarize yourself with the job description, especially its hiring criteria.
  • Review everything the candidate has submitted to date: Resume, cover letter and so on. Note any areas needing clarification, such as quirky job titles, gaps in work history or hobbies that may reveal aspects of the candidate's personality that can have a bearing on job performance.
  • Set up a general structure for the interview. Create a basic schedule for the interview so that, as the meeting progresses, you reserve enough time to cover all the key areas you want to address. Having a rough schedule to adhere to also will help you begin and end the session on time, allowing you to be more efficient and show that you respect the candidate's time.
  • Write the questions you intend to ask. Base your questions on the areas of the candidate's background that deserve the most attention, based on the job description and your hiring criteria. Keep the list in front of you throughout the interview.

Before conducting an interview, be sure to make arrangements to hold it in a room that's private and reasonably comfortable. Generally speaking, a conference room is a better place for conducting an interview than your office. But if your office is your only option, try to create a calm environment. Clear your desk, close the door, and set your phone so calls go to voicemail or are forwarded somewhere else.