How To Interview A Potential Employee

How To Interview A Potential Employee

Interviewing candidates for a job can be as nerve wracking for the interviewer as the interviewee. We'll show you how to interview candidates for a post and find the right employee.

Step 1: Preparation

Before the interview day, make some time in your schedule to craft your interview questions. Be specific about the job description, and what essential qualifications and experience the successful candidate must have.

Before the candidate arrives, read through their CV once more and make notes of any questions it prompts. Use these notes to tailor the interview to the individual.

You should also make sure you have a private room set aside for the interview that is comfortable for both you and the interviewee. Try to avoid interviewing over a desk.

Step 2: Meet and greet

When the candidate arrives, welcome them with a handshake. Begin with some brief informal conversation to put them at their ease. You will get a far more accurate sense of their personality if they are relaxed.
Once you're both seated, give them a basic agenda for the meeting. Explain how long it will take, the kind of questions you'll be asking and why you'll be asking them. You should aim to be talking for no more than 30% of the interview - meaning you should be listening for 70% of the time.

Step 3: Effective questioning

To get the most out of your interviewee, you'll need to ask a variety of questions.

You should begin with some open questions. These are what, why, when or where questions that encourage the candidate to talk about themselves. For example, "I see you were a team manager at the toothbrush factory. What were your main achievements in that time?"

These are questions that push the candidate to talk in more detail about a specific subject. If they have responded with: "I increased the efficiency of our production line by 58% over three years, and in my spare time developed a revolutionary new bristle technology that has changed the toothbrush industry forever"
you might like to ask them, "How exactly did you increase production?" or "developing new bristle technology was somewhat outside of your job description. How did you manage to do that without compromising your other responsibilities?"

These are a great way of finding out how the candidate thinks. Propose a situation and ask them what they would do in that situation. Or ask them to think of a time when they had to deal with a particular situation and explain what they did. For example: "If one of your team approached you with a complaint against another, how would you go about dealing with their complaint?"

These are questions with a simple yes or no answer and can be particularly useful for pinning the candidate down on key points: "If I offered you the job, would you take it?" or "Does the salary interest you?"

According to UK employment law, you can only make a decision to employ - or not employ - someone based on their ability to do the job. There are certain topics you are not allowed to ask about, including their religion, sexuality, marital status or plans to have children. If you ask questions about these subjects and they don't get the job, they may have grounds to claim that you have made your decision unfairly and they could take you to a tribunal. For more information on employer's responsibilities and avoiding discrimination, visit

Step 4: Take notes

If you're interviewing lots of people, you'll need to take useful notes that will help you to remember each candidate and make your final decision. So - make your notes useful. Did a particular line of questioning enthuse them? Did they demonstrate excellent experience in a specific area? Or did they fail to meet your criteria on every front?

Under the Freedom Of Information Act 2000, anyone can to ask to see any notes you have made about them, so you should write as if your notes were going to be read. After each interview take note of your immediate reaction - it can be useful to remind yourself of this later.

Step 5: Review

Once you'