How to conduct a job interview as an interviewer, direct the conversation to your liking and properly evaluate a candidate

Preparing a structure and outline for the interview session | How an interviewer can move first and move fast to set the tone of the interview

How to conduct a job interview as an interviewer, direct the conversation to your liking and properly evaluate a candidate
Advice and instructions on how to conduct a job interview well from an employer's perspective.

An interviewer has a large responsibility to assess the candidate. When conducting a session, you need to have a tight grasp on the discussion and ask questions systematically.

How well an interviewer controls the time, the feel and the space affects the quality of information extracted from the candidate. An interview done well should be thorough, investigative but should not feel invasive or uncomfortable. The exchange of thoughts and words should, in a worthwhile interview, allows the interviewer(s) to evaluate the candidate's qualifications, skills and most crucially the fit for the role.

Preparing a structure and outline for the interview session

Make sure you have an outline of what you want to cover in the interview. This will help keep you focused and on track.

An interview outline is a bulleted list of topics and questions you would like to talk about during the meeting. It is similar to a meeting agenda.

Penning an overall outline helps you organize your thoughts and keep you from feeling overwhelmed by the interview process. Start by brainstorming a list of topics that you want to cover in the interview. Once you have a list of potential topics, start narrowing them down to the most important ones. Try to limit your list to no more than 10 topics.

Once you have your list of topics, start putting together an outline for the interview. Start with an introduction, then move on to each of your topics in turn. For each topic, make sure to include a question that will help prompt the person being interviewed to talk about that topic. The result of this is a compiled topic list from all the interviewers which is used to increase productivity during the interview session and also avoid breaching off-limit topics, or warping an interview into an unintentionally invasive interrogation session.

An interview plan should set expectations early, introduce an agenda of your choice, assemble lots of relevant questions you need answers from your candidate, a wrap up conclusion and an interview outcome.

A structured interview should have a plan and include these 5 key components :

  1. First things first: when you're starting off the interview, it's important to set the tone and let the candidate know what to expect. Start by introducing yourself and your role in the company, then explain the format of the interview and how long it will take.
  2. It's also a good idea to give an overview of the structure of the conversation - for example, you might say that you'll start with some general questions about the candidate's experience and skills, before moving on to more specific questions about their suitability for the role. Introducing an agenda to the interview keeps the conversation on track, and specifically on a track you decide. An agenda prevents the dialogue from derailing and "missing the point", plus you as an interviewer get to decide early on what to talk about, thus you retain the control of the interview session.
  3. Once you've explained all of this, it's time to jump into the actual questioning. Remember to keep your prepared questions relevant to the role at hand - there's no need to ask about things that won't help you assess whether or not they're right for the job. And while it's important to probe beneath the surface a little bit, don't go too deep until you feel like you have rapport with the person. Then it’s time to begin asking questions about their experience and qualifications. This will give you a good idea of their background and what they can bring to the table to set themselves apart from other competing candidates. When asking questions, be sure to listen attentively to the answers and take notes if necessary. It’s also important to ask follow-up questions if something isn’t clear or you want more information. Some candidates can slip up - fatal flaws and no-gos that cross your threshold or the company's threshold are reasons to immediately disqualify a candidate.
  4. Finally, wrap up the interview by thanking the candidate for their time, and letting them know what will happen next in the process.
  5. If you think they could be a good fit for the role, tell them so! Conducting a successful job interview is all about asking the right questions and getting a sense of whether or not someone would be a good fit for your team. Throughout the conversation, try to get a sense of the applicant’s personality and whether they would be a good fit for your company culture. Spending 30 minutes to an hour of your workday should be enough to give you a sensing of the interview outcome. Plus, the candidate has taken out the same amount of time to spend with you. It is only fair and just for the interviewer to give some indication which way you sway.

Possible list of topics to talk about during an interview an interviewer should always ask

Performance: Ask the candidate to define the company's goals and job goals and how he or she can help to achieve them

Most Common Interview Questions & How to Answer Them
• Give a 30 Second Introduction• Why You Think You Are Qualified• Initiative & Goals• What Others Say About You• What Kind of Person Are You• Why Did You Quit

Culture: Ask the candidate to state what he or she thinks the company's culture is and how the he or she intends to adjust in order to fit in

More culture questions found in these articles:

Questions Interviewees Can Ask Back In Response
• Questions for Job Applicants to Ask Interviewers• Sample Ability & Potential Questions• Company Culture Fit• Behavioural & Expectation• Work From Home Arrangement
Questions Interviewees Should Ask Employers In An Interview
• Questions to Ask Your Potential Employer• Company Culture• Business Goals & Plans• Work-Life Expectations• Career Development• Perks and Benefits• Decision-Making Process

Readiness: Ask the candidate their availability to start employment and if they are required to serve a bond or notice period with their current organisation

Be knowledgeable on notice period requirements by reading this next article:

Everything you need to know about your current notice period
How notice works | What current notice is | What happens when I serve notice
Understanding the Notice Period in Your Job Application
When you’re applying for a new job, it’s important to know what the notice period is and how it will affect your ability to start working. This article covers everything you need to know about notice periods in job applications.

How an interviewer can move first and move fast to set the tone of the interview

An interviewer can move first and move fast to set the tone of the interview by being the first one to speak. "When you're the first to speak, it allows you to be in control," says Paul Falcone, author of 96 Great Interview Questions to Ask Before You Hire. The words you open with sets the tone, pace, and tenor of the conversation.

The person who starts off the first sentence sets the tone of the interview.

Here are some opening questions that can make a difference.

1. How did you get interested in this field?

2. What are the most important qualities for success in this field?

3. What have you found to be the most challenging aspect of this field?

4. Can you describe a time when you had to go above and beyond to meet a goal?


Conducting a job interview is an important responsibility, and one that should be taken seriously. By preparing an outline and structure for the conversation, you can ensure that the most important topics are covered and that the interview flows smoothly. Additionally, by setting the tone early on in the conversation, you can maintain control throughout the discussion. Use this to your advantage to get the information you need to make a hiring decision with confidence.

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