Benefiting U

Interviewing Job Candidates — Strategies and Best Practices:

When you have an open position, the recruitment and hiring process can be challenging. The following tips about the interviewing process can help to ensure you hire a candidate with great qualities and potential for success.

We recommend using behavior based interview questions. Instead of hearing only “yes” or “no” as the answer, a behavior based question is open-ended and encourages the candidate to demonstrate their experience and provide insightful, meaningful answers. To craft the questions, first consider what you (and your search committee when applicable) deem most important in a successful candidate. What are the highest priority job requirements? What are the necessary knowledge, skills and abilities? What values do successful employees in your department exhibit? To encourage the candidates to share previous work experiences, start the questions with a statement such as:

  • “Tell us about a time when…”
  • “Give a specific example…”
  • “Describe a situation…”
  • “When you worked at (employer), tell us about…”

Ideally you want your candidates to provide specific examples of how they handled situations in the past, not to speculate about how they might handle a situation. So for example, instead of asking “How do you deal with multiple conflicting deadlines?” consider rephrasing the question to “Tell us about a time when you attended to multiple high priority objectives. What was your action plan, who did you involve and what was the outcome?”

It goes without saying that you must not ask questions related to any anti-discrimination laws or policies, such as race, color, national origin, sex, pregnancy, disability, genetic information, age, religion, veteran status, sexual orientation and gender identity and expression. It is also best to avoid topics such as political views, weight, personal habits, etc.

During the interview, ask the same core set of questions of all candidates. This makes it easier to compare candidates and provides all candidates with equal opportunity. You may of course ask follow-up questions and questions about their resume and experience. Give candidates your full attention during the interview and allow them an opportunity to ask you questions.

If you have any questions about the interview process, or would like assistance preparing for the interviews and/or crafting questions, please contact your HR manager or HR analyst.