Interviewing Candidates

Interviewing Candidates

For many individuals, the job interview can be a scary process – even if you’re the one hiring. You’ll want to be prepared for interviews you conduct with job applicants by having appropriate questions that can help you choose the right person.

Begin with a List of Questions

Before scheduling any interviews, invest some time in developing a strong list of questions. Determine what questions will help you make an informed decision. When interviewing multiple candidates for the same position, ask the same questions of each prospect in the same manner, allowing you to fairly compare candidate responses.

Although you’ll want to use some of the time to explain the job and your practice, the majority of your time after that should be spent listening to the candidate.

Here are some sample questions to get you started:

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?
  • What five words describe you best?
  • Have you ever done this kind of work before?
  • What are your long-range goals?
  • Why do you want to work here?
  • Why did you leave your last job? Why do you want to leave your current job?
  • What would your previous employers tell me about you?
  • Why should we hire you for this job?
  • What kind of software are you familiar with?
  • How do you work under pressure or tight deadlines?
  • What would you do in this situation? (Then describe a work-related scenario.)
  • What do you think of working in a group?
  • When would you be able to start?
  • Would you be willing to work as a temporary or contract employee?

Avoid these topics:

  • Age
  • Ancestry and perceived race, color, nationality, place of origin, etc.
  • Family status
  • Marital status
  • Mental disability
  • Physical disability
  • Receipt of public assistance
  • Religion
  • Pregnancy
  • Gender-related questions
  • Sexual orientation

Scheduling Interviews

After you've identified the questions you want to ask, it's time to schedule interviews. You may want to block some time over several days to conduct the interviews. Allow enough time to address your questions, as well as those the candidate may have for you.

As you wrap up the interview, explain your next steps. That may involve an additional round of interviews (and possibly meeting with other staff members). If possible, provide a timeframe for making a decision.

You may also want to provide your contact information in case the candidates have additional questions or if they need to follow up.

Assessing Each Applicant

After interviewing several people, it becomes hard to remember specifics. Take notes during the interview and at the end, write a short summary with your thoughts and impressions.

After you complete the interviews, re-evaluate each applicant and follow up with those who made a good impression and meet your qualifications.

Conducting Second Interviews

The second interview is an opportunity to follow up with the applicants and delve into more specifics about their background, how they’d fit in, etc. It should help you more clearly determine if they’re the right person to hire.

This is also the time to discuss salary, verify a possible start date and answer any questions the applicant may have.

If the candidate doesn't have any questions, review the responsibilities and expectations for the position. Ask permission to contact the applicant's references.

Let the applicant know WHEN you will be calling back (usually within three to four days).

Checking References

If you ask for references (you should), don’t be afraid to call those references as you identify candidates you may be interested in hiring.

And although many employers think they need to wait until they make an offer before calling references, it may be advisable to contact them after the first interview.

References should have had a working relationship with the applicant because you want to determine if the individual can do what he or she claims he or she can do.

You may want to ask references questions such as:

  • Length of time they worked with the applicant
  • Working relationship with applicant
  • Responsibilities of applicant
  • Briefly explain the position and your practice and ask how they think the applicant would do in this environment
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