How to Conduct a Successful Interview

The success of an interview not only depends on a well-prepared candidate, but also a well-prepared interviewer. It can be challenging to gather all of the information you need in such a short period, so it is important to make this time as productive as possible. Following these tips will help you make a more informed decision as to which candidate is the best fit for your institution.

  • Prior to the interview, make a list of skills necessary to be successful in the position you are looking to fill. The interview questions you ask should be focused on determining if the candidate has the specific skills you have identified.
  • When selecting your interview questions, choose open-ended questions to help avoid “yes” or “no” answers. Begin your questions with phrases such as “Tell me about a time when” or “Explain a situation that you were in.” This type of behavior-based question will prove to be effective because past behaviors are an excellent predictor of future performance.
  • If the candidate does not provide enough specifics, ask follow-up questions to gather the information you need.Interview
  • Be prepared. Reread your candidate’s resume just prior to the interview and become familiar with their past experiences. It is acceptable to glance at their resume during the interview; however, if you are not familiar with the individual's qualifications, you may overlook an important point.
  • Listen more than you talk. The more the candidate is allowed to share, the better equipped you will be to make an informed decision. Refrain from dominating the conversation. Instead, leave time at the end of the interview to answer the candidate's questions.
  • Find out how much the candidate knows about the position as well as your institution. This is a key indicator of the candidate's dedication to becoming a member of your team. A strong candidate will have researched your institution in and out.
  • Take notes during the interview so you can refer back to them. This will be especially helpful if you are interviewing several candidates.
  • To assist in your selection process, complete a score card at the end of each interview. Rank each candidate on the list of skills you created as well as other factors including professionalism, competency, and knowledge of the institution. Also, note any highlights or red flags that arose.
  • Consider taking your candidate out to a meal. If possible, bring along a few of the individual's potential co-workers. This will help you gauge how the person might fit into your office culture. Also, a more relaxed setting may help your candidate feel more comfortable and willing to be open.
  • Be on time. Have your questions and a copy of the candidate's resume ready to go. Being late or unprepared for the interview may give the impression that the interview is not important to you.
  • Review the topics to avoid during recruiting  to ensure that you do not ask an inappropriate question during the interview process.
  • Don’t try to embellish the position. A good hire is one that is a match for both the employer and the candidate. If the candidate has unrealistic expectations of the position, it may decrease the chances of employee satisfaction and retention.
  • Close the interview by informing your candidate of the next step as well as a timeline for the decision-making process.


Updated Oct. 23, 2012