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Interviewing candidates

Interviews are the most common type of selection activity, and will almost always be used to help make a decision on who to appoint.  They can also be complemented by other methods such as assessment centres, presentations, role play, group exercises, psychometric tests and practical tests.

The main purpose of the interview is to assess the skills, experience, knowledge and attributes of a candidate in order to determine their suitability for the position.  All staff involved in the selection and interview process should have a minimum level of knowledge and skills regarding recruitment and selection. 

Your recruitment and selection process can be made easier through good preparation.  If you are the Chair, make sure that you are happy that arrangements are in place, a suitable room has been booked and panel members have all the documentation they need such as job descriptions and candidate information.  It’s always a good idea to meet panel members beforehand to agree the structure, questions and the role each panel member will play in the process.  Don’t forget to check for potential conflicts of interest.

All panel members should have received appropriate training in Recruitment and Selection.  Members of the appointment panel should also understand their legal responsibility to ensure that no-one is significantly disadvantaged.

There is no one best way to structure an interview; it will depend on the role and what you need to discuss in order to make an accurate assessment of the candidates as well as allowing candidates to make their own assessment about the job and the organisation.

Managers should consider the following:

  • Allow enough time to ensure you can fully consider all aspects of the role and person specification, and to give the candidate time to ask their questions. Ideally allow at least an hour. Give yourself time at the end to capture your notes.
  • At the start of the interview, the chair should introduce themselves and the other members of the panel, and explain the process for the interview.
  • Check in with the candidate – do they have an immediate questions before you begin?
  • Ask your questions as agreed in advance by the panel. You can find some useful questions in our sample question bank. Ideally ensure that each panel member asks a similar number of questions. It’s okay to ask additional or probing questions to further explore the candidate’s answers.
  • Take notes throughout – remember that a candidate can request their interview notes.
  • Allow time for questions from the candidate – 10 minutes is a good guideline.
  • At the end of the interview, explain what will happen next and when the candidate can expect to hear from you again.

Remember! References, application forms and CV’s are strictly confidential and should be restricted to members of the appointment panel and no one involved in the recruitment and selection process should discuss applicants with any person not involved in the appointment unless clear permission to do so has been given.