Interviewing potential employees

Laura HartleyEver spent all your time researching the company, role playing with a friend and practising in front of the mirror, but you needn’t have bothered because the interviewer did most of the talking?

It’s easy to fall into the trap of selling the job and company to the candidate before you’ve interviewed them. Below are some tips on how to conduct an interview.


It isn’t just for candidates. Is the interview room comfortable and free from interruptions? Have you prepared a checklist with essential and desirable skills?

Ensure you have read the CV and you know what you are going to ask them; gaps in history, reasons for leaving, job titles and duties- just because it’s in the CV doesn’t mean it’s true.

Each candidate will be different so have set questions for each one.

Question types

• Open – ask open-ended questions this will allow the candidate to express themselves, describe their skills and experiences.

• But with multiple choice they will only answer the last option or the easiest.

• Leading questions are a bad idea as the only way they can give a quality answer is by disagreeing or interrupting you.

• Closed questions are used for finding specific information.

• About – “when in doubt ask about....” use this at the beginning, or for opinions, beliefs and feelings.

• Reflective – use these to ensure you have understood the answer or when you don’t want to influence the candidate.

• Hypothetical – used to test creativity and test how logically they think.

Using silence in the interview is a great tool.

Five seconds allows for gathering thoughts

Five to 20 seconds encourages candidates to share information they wouldn’t normally share

More than 20 seconds pressurises candidate to share confidential information

Remember to listen to the answers, although it is worth mentioning that verbal communication accounts for only 45% of the decision made, 55% comes from body language and facial expressions.

• Posture and gestures
• Expressions
• Orientation
• Proximity
• Looks and appearance
• Eye contact

Laura Hartley, director, Laura Hartley Recruitment.