Interview Preparation Checklist: How to Interview Someone for a Job

With low unemployment rates, candidates can now be more selective about the employer they want to work with. 

It's more important than ever to be a good interviewer. This is especially the case since CareerBuilder found that 74% of survey respondents have hired the wrong person for a position. 

As an interviewer, you should do all you can to gain valuable interviewing tips to reduce the time to hire

Here are 27 tips to help you conduct a job interview.

How to Interview Someone for a Job

Just how do interviewers prepare and conduct an  interview? 

The success of an interview largely depends on preparation. 

Employers should spend the majority of their time getting ready for the interview. The more prepared an interviewer is, the better chance of securing the right person for the job. 

Below, you will find  tips for interview preparation.

Interview Preparation Checklist

  1. Employers must review their business needs.
  2. Organize the interview questions before conducting an interview
  3. Create a rating system
  4. Design an interview timeline
  5. Dedicate time to research each candidate
  6. Get your pitch ready
  7. Schedule the interviews
  8. Reduce the candidate’s anxiety
  9. Organize your facilities
  10. Arrange snacks and drinks
  11. Provide a warm welcome
  12. Go over the Interview structure
  13. Make introductions
  14. Stick to structured Interviews
  15. The interview should be a conversation
  16. Ask questions about real-life
  17. Ask follow-up questions
  18. Make notes
  19. Be open minded and watch for potential biases
  20. Explain the next steps
  21. Sell the role and your company
  22. Finish the interview in a professional manner
  23. Check with others in your company
  24. Assess your notes
  25. Select the best candidate
  26. Send the job offer
  27. Send candidate rejection letters


Detailed Interview Checklist for Employers

1)    Employers must review your business needs 

As part of your interview preparation, you should decide what business needs your new hire will solve.You also need to understand which qualifications, experience and skills are important. Make sure to outline these different requirements in your job descriptions [Read: Sample Job Descriptions]. Setting these standards for conducting job interviews is critical.

You must know how to measure success when the selected person is in position. Review the traits of the top performers in the job and find out what soft skills are needed to become successful in the role. 

After you're done, customize your interview questions and assessments to ensure you find the right person to meet your business needs.

2) Organize the questions before conducting an interview

Another tip before conducting an interview is to organize all of your questions. 

You must be in a position to know exactly what you’ll be looking for before conducting an interview. Asking the right interview questions will help you determine whether the candidate has what’s needed. 

After you’ve compiled your list of attributes for the open vacancy, ask questions to help you settle on whether the candidate has the core competences needed. Be careful when asking questions, so you don’t imply discrimination. Interview questions relating to religion, marital status, gender, family planning etc should be avoided.

3) Conduct better interviews by creating a rating system

A rating system is important since it helps to determine the exact criteria needed to assess the candidates' answers in an impartial way. This helps you understand what to look for when interviewing a candidate, and to make the right decision about who will be suitable for the role.

4) Great interview preparation has a set timeline

Provide a summary of how the job interview will take place. 

Decide how to start the interview, how the interview will continue and how it will end. Setting a proper interview checklist for your hiring managers, ensures that everyone is on the same page during the process. For example, will you be informal or will your candidates receive a formal introduction? 

Every part of the interview should be planned in minute detail, so all candidates will have the same experience.

5) Interview preparation for employers requires dedicated time to candidate research

Take an in-depth look at resumes before the interview starts. 

Knowing a candidate's resume inside and out will help you ask better questions and have a deeper conversation. 

Look at the jobs the candidates have had and find out if they match the job criteria. You can also search social media for a candidate's profile. This is a two-way street since most candidates check out their potential employer on job sites, like Glassdoor. 

When checking social media, have a look at things like what your candidate does in their spare time and their interests.

6) Prepare your interview pitch for candidates

Another interviewing tip for employers is to remember that they also need to encourage the candidate to accept the job offer. 

Candidates will be deciding whether they want to work with your company. Therefore, you need to have persuasive selling points to get your ideal candidate to opt for your company. 

This pitch can include information about perks, benefits and how the workplace culture encourages flexible working.

7) Schedule the interviews

It's important to give your candidates enough notice when scheduling interviews. 

The best way is to use modern hiring software that uses automation to schedule interviews. Fountain’s interview scheduling toolkit sends out details of the interviews including contact information, agenda, and location, while automatically updating  yours and the hiring manager's calendars. 

This ensures that you spend less time going back and forth arranging interviews. Using Fountain also gives your business a professional look by showing candidates that you use the best recruiting tools.

8) Good interview processes reduce the candidate's anxiety

Job interviews can be very stressful. 

Therefore, try to do all you can to reduce anxiety by explaining the interview agenda and process. Let candidates know what they should expect from the interview, including:

·       Where the interview will be

·       What time the interview will take place

·       Who will be involved in the interview

The aim is to ensure that the candidate is fully prepared and there are no uncertainties or surprises on the big day. 

You can also provide them with their own interview preparation checklist that includes the dress code and the topics you will discuss. Your aim should be to make the candidates as comfortable as possible to get the best out of them.

9) Organize your facilities before conducting an interview

Another tip before conducting interviews is to organize the venue in advance and ensure you won’t be disturbed during the interview. 

Reserve the best available room to conduct the interview. It should be a quiet room. As the interviewer, you need to inform your colleagues that you’re unavailable at specific time to take calls, have meetings or talk to anyone.

10) Arrange snacks and drinks during the job interview

An additional touch is to make light snacks available during the job interview – for example, tea, coffee and cookies. 

At the very least, provide a glass of water for your candidates.This will show that you’re considerate. It will also give candidates the comfort of having something to drink if they get thirsty during the interview.

Interview Preparation Checklist for During the Interview

After you've done your preparation, it should be easier to conduct the interview, but conducting good job interviews can still be complicated. 

You have to do more than just ask questions and listen to responses.  You must be tactful enough to steer the candidate on the right track if they start to go off track.

11) Provide a warm welcome as your candidate arrives for the job interview

A firm handshake, a welcoming smile and eye contact all help to give your candidate a warm welcome. 

This will set a positive tone for the interview and help your candidate feel more relaxed.

12) Go over the interview structure and agenda

Although you’ll have given your candidate details about the interview agenda ahead of time, it pays to go over the plan again. 

This helps candidates feel like they understand what's coming and be more prepared. Also, give them the estimated duration of the interview.

13) Make introductions to your interviewing team

Introduce yourself and anyone else on the interview panel. Then talk about your company and the position you’re interviewing for. 

Although the candidate should have done research on your company, ensure you don't skip over this part and clarify any information gaps your candidate might have. This part of the interview helps to highlight any positive information about your company.

14) Stick to a structured interview process

Structured interviews are where employers ask a pre-arranged set of questions. 

Print out your questions and bring them with you to the interview. Stick to the questions on the list. 

All candidates should be asked the same questions in the same order. This will provide an objective basis for the hiring team to make decisions.

15) Have your hiring team use a conversational interview style

You will get more from the candidate by approaching the interview as a conversation instead of an interrogation. 

Adopting this mindset will encourage candidates to relax. It’s important as the employer to review the candidate’s resume ahead of time facilitate a conversational tone. 

When you ask a question, listen carefully to everything the candidate is saying. Don't be tempted to fill in the silence. Let the candidate think through their answers and give more details, if necessary.

16) Use behavioral or situational interview questions

Questions like “what are your weaknesses?” have their place in interviews, but they are broad and most people have figured out how to answer them. 

A more constructive use of interviewing time is to ask candidate show they would deal with real-life solutions related to the job. For example, if you own a restaurant and are hiring a chef, ask how they would go about prepping and cooking a meal. 

You can also give real-life scenarios about problems you have encountered with your team and ask candidates to describe the processes they would use to solve these issues. Employers who prepare for interviews with behavioral questions are more likely to find candidates with the applicable skills they are looking for. 

17) Ask follow-up interview questions

When you listen to the initial answer, you may need to ask the candidate to elaborate. 

These follow-up questions will give you greater insight into how the candidate thinks and also give them an additional opportunity to explain their thought process.

18) Take detailed notes during the interview

After weeks of interview preparation, it would be a shame to go through the process and not properly remember which candidate was the best. That’s why in addition to this interview preparation checklist , you’ll want to take detailed notes to remember everything you can about how your candidates respond to each question. 

It may not be that easy to remember all the answers, especially if you have several interviews on the same day. Using a laptop will cause distraction, so it’s recommended that you use pen and paper.

19) Be open-minded and watch for potential biases

It's important to find out what your biases are to prevent you from getting carried away with your first impression and then looking into everything the candidate says to support it. 

Give everyone a blank slate. Don't jump to conclusions and take the candidates' answers as you find them.

20) Explain the next steps after the interview

When the interview has come to an end, let your prospective employee know what comes next. 

Give details about the remainder of the hiring process and the proposed timeline. The candidate should leave the interview knowing what to expect.

21) Sell the role and your company during the interview

If you’re impressed with the candidate, ensure that he or she will choose you over anyone else. Remember, job interviews are also an opportunity for you to “sell” your company to the candidate.

At the end of the interview, tell the candidate why you think they're a good fit. Also, ask if there is anyone else on the team they would be interested in meeting.

22) Finish the interview in a professional way

As the interviewer, you always have to ensure that you end in the proper way. 

This means allowing the candidate enough time to ask questions, answering the candidate's questions fully and honestly and describing the next steps. 

If you’re very interested, give the candidate a tour of your office, so they can observe the company culture.

Job Interview Checklist for Employers: After the Interview

After you’ve met the candidates, the interviewing process isn’t over. 

As an interviewer, ensure you continue the good work you've started. This is when you'll be making the decision about who to hire.

23) Check with others in your company

The candidates you interview will be at their best during the interview. 

They will be enthusiastic and engaged, so, hopefully, you have a way of finding out how they behave when you’re not around. 

Ask the receptionist about how the candidates appeared while in the lobby. Were they smiley and friendly? (Because someone who is nice to receptionists or other staff is probably going to be a good team member, but the opposite can also be true.)

24) Assess your interview notes 

All the information and scorecards collected during the interview should be arranged according to the rating system you’ve developed in your interview preparation checklist.

25) Select the best candidate once the interview process is done

If you’ve prepared interview scorecards, this should be easy. 

Your scorecards should rate each candidate by the criteria you’ve set. Choose the best three with the highest scores. Then compare them against each other with your team to make the final decision.

26) Send the job offer to your prospective employee

After successfully conducting an interview, it’s finally time to pick up the phone to tell the selected candidate that they have got the job. 

After they accept, quickly send them a formal job letter or email. Include details about the compensation, benefits, working hours, etc. and outline the next steps.

27) Send candidate rejection letters once you've made a hire

When the candidate you have chosen accepts the offer, it’s vital to contact all the others and let them know promptly. 

To make it easier, we have provided some job rejection letter templates you can just plug and play and send to applicants that haven't been successful.

To ensure the interview process goes smoothly, use the right recruitment software, like Fountain. Sign up for a 14-day free trial to see how we can help you improve your full hiring process.

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