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Preparation Is the Key to Conducting Successful Job Interviews

For busy job interviewers, preparation is the key.

With so many people out of work and applying for new positions, today's managers and recruiters are busier than ever when interviewing to fill openings. So it's the right time for those interviewers to sharpen their skills.

Robert Hosking, Executive Director of OfficeTeam ( offers these tips for success:

Be prepared. Review applicants’ resumes again before the meetings and develop a list of questions that will help gain a better understanding of the candidates’ skills and experience and how they match the responsibilities of the position. Prepare the same set of questions for all applicants, to establish an objective standard on which to base conclusions. Also, try to schedule back-to-back interviews, when possible, to assist with the comparison.

Make a good impression. In many ways, the job candidate being interviewed is interviewing the manager and company, as well. By dressing appropriately – for example, wearing something that would normally be worn when meeting with senior management or an important client or customer – and being respectful, the manager will ensure that the prospective employee leaves the meeting with a positive impression of the organization.   

Set the right tone. Create an environment where candidates can feel comfortable and shine. Reserve a room that is quiet and free of distractions. Begin the discussion with small talk to help set the person at ease and then provide an overview of what is expected from the meeting.

Ask the right questions. Pose open-ended interview questions that reveal a candidate’s thought processes, motivations and decision-making skills, as well as past experience, to help determine whether the applicant is a good fit. Some examples include:

  • How have you handled a difficult boss, budget cut or mistake at work?
  • How were you able to adjust your strategy on an underperforming project to improve the outcome?
  • How would you handle an irate customer?
  • Can you describe your greatest work achievement? 
  •  Can you walk me through a complex decision you had to make at work?
  • Can you describe an ethically challenging situation at work and how you handled it?
  • What type of work environment brings out your best performance? 
  • What type of work environment are you least likely to thrive in? 
  • What did you like best/least about your last job and why?

Rephrase questions when needed. If an applicant’s response to a question is unclear, don’t be afraid to ask it in a different way.  For instance, a manager could rephrase “Why did you leave your previous position?” as “What types of opportunities are you looking for that your last job did not provide?”

Listen carefully. Allow the candidate to complete his or her thoughts before thinking about what the next question will be or jumping to another point. Managers don’t want to miss any information that will help them better evaluate the applicant.

Discuss company perks. Highlight aspects of the organization that would appeal to applicants, including details about the corporate culture, benefits package, work/life balance offerings and professional-development programs.

Don’t rush to judgment. Avoid forming an immediate opinion, good or bad, based on one comment. Instead, evaluate the discussion as a whole. Consider taking notes to help remember all of the details of the meeting.

End on a positive. Once the manager feels he or she has collected enough information, politely end the interview. Thank the applicant for his or her time and interest, and briefly mention the next steps in the hiring process.


© 2018, Information Strategies, Inc.
P.O. Box 315, Ridgefield, NJ 07657