Conducting an interview


In the past few blogs we wrote about how candidates can prepare themselves for job interviews, questions to ask and what mistakes not to make during an interview. This time the tables are turned and we look into how to conduct a good interview. A skilled interviewer who makes the candidate feel comfortable will gain valuable information about the person and gives a positive image of their company.

Your goal is to hire the best people you possibly can. This means your interviews should be the best it possibly can.

First of all, don’t forget that during the interview process the candidates are deciding if they want to work for you just as much as you are deciding if you want to hire them. So, this is your opportunity to make a good impression and sell the role and company to the candidate.

Preparation is key
Thoroughly understand what you need. Before the interview make sure you have a clear understanding of –

  • The job spec and key responsibilities of the job that you are interviewing for.
  • How someone can be successful in the role, determine what qualities someone should have to fit in the company culture and tailor your selection process to finding the person who has the skills that your company needs.
  • What qualifications, experience or accomplishments the candidate needs.
  • The cultural fit. Determine how you will identify the candidate with the right personality, interpersonal skills and interests.


Be ready to answer questions about the company, it’s values and culture, the role, the team and maybe even about yourself. Don’t forget to bring a copy of the candidates’ CV and cover letter and a piece of paper and a pen to take notes.

Before the interview, you want to have a good understanding of the candidate so read the candidates CV and cover letter. As it’s the 21st century, don’t forget to check LinkedIn and maybe even other social media platforms. You can’t ask intelligent questions and create a compelling conversation if you have no idea who is sitting in front of you.

Be open about the interviewing process
The candidate should know what to expect from the interview, where the interview will take place, who will be involved in the interviews etc. Make sure there are no uncertainties or surprises.

It may even be worth setting an agenda early on/prior to the interview.

Start easy
Try to make the interviewee feel comfortable and at ease. Ask if the candidate would like to drink something for a start. Once the interview has started, leave the difficult questions till a little later in the interview. Instead, start with easy questions such as; what did you study and what did you do at your previous job? Ask about hobbies and interests and encourage the candidate to speak freely about their accomplishments and qualifications.

Keep in mind that it’s not an interrogation. You want to have a conversation with the person in front of you.

Be considerate, thoughtful and be yourself
Relax and guide towards a naturally flowing conversation. It’s normal that the interviewee can be quite nervous for an interview. Being very overpowering can increase the nerves of the interviewee, which can lead to shutting down. Just be yourself. As the interviewer, you want to find out if the person is a good fit for the company and has the skills for the job. A candidate will be more open and honest when he/she is in a friendly atmosphere. And keep in mind that if you don’t show your best self, the best candidate might decide this is not the company for him/her.

Ask open questions
This might be a no-brainer, but it’s very easy to ask closed questions instead of open-ended questions. You want to get specific answers from the candidate and you can get these by asking open-ended questions. Examples are i.e.:

  • Tell me about yourself
  • What are your strengths/weaknesses?
  • Why should I hire you?


Solution-oriented questions
Let the candidate solve a problem if you really want to find out how well suited they are for the role. Provide a problem that the company has faced and ask the candidate how they would resolve the problem. The question should fit the job that the candidate is interviewing for. This is also a good question to look back at when you have difficulties deciding what candidate suits the role best.

Be consistent
When you are interviewing multiple candidates for the same role, make sure you ask each candidate the same questions. This will provide a good base to compare each candidate.

Be flexible
Consistency is important because you want to be able to compare candidates. But also be flexible. If an interview is taking a different turn, go with it. As long as you can still ask the key questions taking a bit of a different turn is not a problem.

Don’t worry if there’s a silence. You don’t have to keep talking all the time. Give the conversation room to breathe. If there isn’t a straight answer from the candidate and a short silence, that’s ok. This also gives you the time to consider the candidates replies to previous questions. Most of the time candidates will fill a silence with additional examples on the question you asked.

Don’t ask inappropriate questions
Did you know that it’s illegal to ask questions such as;

  • What’s your age?
  • What’s your race?
  • What ethnicity are you?
  • What’s your religion?
  • What’s your marital status?

As a Recruitment/HR professional you should be aware of employment law and make sure that all interview questions comply to such guidelines. These questions might seem harmless, but yet, are in fact discriminatory and therefore illegal.

Time for questions
Good candidates want to know as much as possible about the role, the company and its culture and will ask questions. Give the candidate time to ask questions and be open and honest when answering them. This is always a great time for you to be open about your experiences within the company (good/bad).

The next step
At the end of the interview describe the next step of the interviewing process. Explain what will happen next and when this will take place.

Obviously, you will follow-up with successful candidates, but don’t forget about the candidates that haven’t been successful. They put in time and effort to prepare for the interview and it will only take a few minutes of your time to follow-up with them and explain why they weren’t successful during this job application. This feedback is helpful to the job seeker and also leaves a good impression of your company.

Offering the job to the candidate
Once you decided to offer the job to a candidate, be enthusiastic about it, show your enthusiasm. You should be just as excited as the candidate.

Last but not least – don’t forget to have fun with the interview