The Interview

Call the top candidates, as many as you wish to meet, and invite them in for an interview. Try to schedule the interviews for the same week, as close to one another as possible, so that you'll be able to compare your impressions easily. Consider the following factors before you make your calls:

Setting

The best place to hold interviews is in your office, if possible. This gives the candidate a sense of what the workplace is like. If you work out of your home or lack the proper space, you might want to hold the interview at a coffee shop, a conference room at The Job Market (free for employers), or a library room where you could talk comfortably in a professional setting without revealing where you live.

Though Hollywood makes this look glamorous, interviews that are held over meals can be very unproductive and often unpleasant. You may create an overly social situation; also, if you decide in the first few moments that the candidate is not right for the position the situation may be awkward. Furthermore, the cost can really add up.

Phone interviews are limited in that you can't see the applicant, but using the phone can be useful for screening a large number of applicants or when interviewing someone from out of town. If you decide to hold a phone interview, you may wish to call the job seeker rather than having them call you.

Planning the Interview

Your goal is to gain information about all candidates, so as to best decide whom to hire, while being fair to all. Many businesses use the technique of creating a list of questions they ask each applicant. They choose questions that will help them to get to know each candidate, to get a feel for each person's distinct personality, and to get a deeper view of each one's qualifications. Also, they plan ample time for applicants to think before answering questions, and for interviewer and candidate to talk freely together when they start an interesting discussion.

These businesses have found that interviews that allow for structured time in which all the important questions are asked, but which also include unstructured conversation, tend to be the most productive and most satisfying for both the candidate and the employer. You can come up with a list of questions in advance, allow the candidate to elaborate on their answers and invite further conversation as well.

What to Ask

  1. Ask questions that relate directly to the applicant's ability to perform the job at hand. You need to avoid asking questions that are either illegal or offensive, so stick to work-related issues and concerns.
  2. Choose questions that the applicant can answer with more than a simple "yes" or "no" response. For example, what person in their right mind would answer "no" to the question "Are you dependable?," and what do you really learn when they answer "yes"? A better strategy is to ask a question that allows the candidate to demonstrate their qualities by providing examples. Thus, you could instead ask "How did you show yourself to be a dependable employee at your last job? What were some things other people relied on you for?"
  3. Take good notes during the interview to help you when it's time to make a decision. Don't write down anything about the applicant as relates to race, age, gender, color, religion, or physical ability. If you were sued for discrimination, you would want to use your notes to show your fair attitude.
  4. You might want to read up on interviewing techniques and practices, or investigate sample interview scripts to help you prepare.