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Effective Interview Techniques

Whether you’ve conducted hundreds of interviews or are about to conduct your very first interview, it’s important to have a game plan put together before you meet with a potential candidate.  And while that game plan may be quite different depending on the size, industry or culture of your organization, there are some tips and techniques that apply pretty universally to any company.

Below are some tips you can use to polish your interviewing techniques across every stage of the interview process:


  • Review the job description. Even if you’ve read through a job description hundreds of times, you should always review it again the day of the interview to ensure that you have a very clear understanding of the skills and qualifications your ideal candidate should possess.  If you’re not clear on any of the job duties or necessary qualifications, make sure to consult with the person who will be managing this employee to determine exactly what they’re looking for in a candidate.
  • Print out the candidate’s resume, application and other pertinent materials. No matter how well you think you know a candidate’s resume, it’s helpful to have it in front of you when you sit down with a candidate.  Printing out the resume or application also allows you to make any notes about information you have questions about or any aspect of a candidate’s previous experience you would like to hear more about.
  • Know what questions you want to ask. Many companies have standard lists of questions they want hiring managers or interviewers to ask.  If your employer does have an interview template or list of questions, make sure to have that with you when you meet with the candidate.

During the interview

  • Put the candidate at ease. Don’t make the interview feel like a game of “20 questions.”  Starting with some small talk can help put the candidate at ease and help set a conversational tone for the rest of the interview.  Spend some time telling the interviewee about the company and the position, as well as a little bit about yourself and your role within the organization.
  • Let the candidate do most of the talking. The whole point of an interview is to learn more about the candidate, which won’t happen if you’re the one doing all the talking.  A good rule of thumb to keep in mind during interviews is the 80/20 rule – the interviewer should only do about 20 percent of the talking, while the interviewee should do about 80 percent of the talking.
  • Take notes. Writing down your impressions of the candidate, including their answers to the questions you ask and your reaction to them will help you better recall the interview later on when you’re trying to narrow down your list of candidates.  Do not, however, make notes about the candidate’s race, gender, age, national origin, etc., as these could land you in hot water later on and lead to charges of discrimination.


  • Ask for feedback from anyone the candidate may have interacted with. Odds are that a candidate will have interacted with at least one other person from your organization during their visit.  Check with the receptionist and anyone you may have met on the way to or from the room you conducted the interview in to see what their impressions of the candidate were.
  • Follow up with the candidate. Sometimes it may take several weeks to make a hiring decision.  Make sure to keep candidates updated if there are any delays in the process.  The last thing you want to do is to lose out on a great candidate because they assumed you weren’t interested.  And if you do end up selecting a different candidate, make sure to follow up with the other candidates to let them know the position has been filled.

Want to learn more about other potential legal pitfalls you might encounter during the hiring process?

Check out the recap of one of our latest webinars: “Legal Pitfalls To Avoid During The Hiring Process,” presented by one of G&A Partners’ experienced HR advisors. Click here to watch the recorded webinar.

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