How to Interview Potential Employees

Tips for assessing skills, experience, and a candidate's cultural fit

Woman in business casual clothing leading an interview.
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Want job interview tips to help you select the most qualified employees? These tips will help you assess the skills, experience, and cultural fit of your potential employees. The job interview is a powerful factor in the employee selection process in most organizations. While it may not deserve all of the attention that it receives, the interview is still extremely important.

Background checking and checking references are also key factors in your hiring decisions. Hopefully, you have added these checks of factual information to your hiring arsenal. Recent trends are moving toward favoring test scores and other impartial means of assessment in employee selection, but most companies still rely on a good, old-fashioned job interview.

The job interview remains your key tool in assessing the candidate's cultural fit. It is also the tool you can use to get to know your candidates on a more personal basis. The interview process helps other employees get to know the candidate, too.

Including additional potential coworkers in the interview and selection process helps the new coworkers own and feel some responsibility for the success of the new employee when they join your organization.

How to Select Candidates for the Job Interview

Your starting point, before scheduling a job interview with a candidate, is to review each candidate's cover letter and resume.

When faced with 100 to 200 candidates, it's important to use tools that separate the great candidates from the many. These will help you select the best candidates for the job interview. They will also help you prepare your list of questions to use to telephone screen candidates and then ask during your onsite or online job interviews.

Telephone Screen Candidates Prior to a Job Interview

The telephone interview or candidate phone screen allows the employer to determine if the candidate's qualifications, experience, workplace preferences, and salary needs are congruent with the position and your organization.

The telephone interview saves employee time and eliminates unlikely candidates. While you will want to develop a customized job interview with customized questions for each position, this step helps narrow down your prospects.

How to Prepare for the Job Interview

The interview team was selected at your earlier recruiting planning meeting, so the interviewers have had time to prepare. You will want to use the list of qualities, skills, knowledge, and experience you developed for the resume screening process.

Use this list to make sure each interviewer understands their role in the candidate assessment. Review each interviewer’s questions, too, to make sure the interview questions selected will obtain the needed information.

Illegal Job Interview Questions

Ask legal interview questions that illuminate the candidate’s strengths and weaknesses to determine job fit. Avoid illegal interview questions and interview practices that could make your company the target of a U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) lawsuit.

Hold a Behavioral Job Interview With Each Candidate

During the job interview, help the candidate demonstrate their knowledge, skills, and experience. Start with small talk and ask several easy questions until the candidate seems relaxed. Then hold a behavioral interview.

A behavioral interview is the best tool you have to identify candidates who have the behavioral traits and characteristics that you have selected as necessary for success in a particular job.

Additionally, behavioral interview questions ask the candidate to pinpoint specific instances in which a particular behavior was exhibited in the past. In the best behaviorally-based interviews, the candidate is unaware of the behavior the interviewer is verifying. This is a much better approach to learning about your candidate then asking the individual to look into a crystal ball and predict probable future behavior.

In addition to the candidate's verbal responses during the job interview, you'll want to notice all of the nonverbal interaction, too.

Assess Candidates Following the Job Interview

Provide a standard format for each interviewer to use to assess each candidate following the interview. You should have several candidates who you'll want to ask back for a second or even third job interview.