How to Conduct a Job Interview

  • Recruitment
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Peninsula Group, HR and Health & Safety Experts

(Last updated )

In this guide, we'll look at what a job interview is, how to conduct an interview and where it sits within the job application process.

Every business wants to attract the top talent in their industry. But to do so, employers need to know how to conduct a job interview.

Without this skill, employers could risk missing out on talented candidates. Which might make it difficult to drive workplace productivity and team job performance.

In this guide, we'll look at what a job interview is, how to conduct an interview and where it sits within the job application process.

What is a job interview?

A job interview is a formal conversation that allows employers to learn more about a candidate's skills. During this step, employers, and hiring managers, can dig deeper into a candidate's relevant experience and other important details.

They do this by asking questions about why they would fit the open position and explaining what the job entails.

Why are job interviews important?

Conducting interviews is an important part of the hiring process as it helps companies identify top talent. This allows you to get a better picture of a candidate's abilities and assess whether they would fit the role.

When you conduct an interview you should try to make a good impression on a job candidate. This can help them determine whether they would want a place in your company.

How to prepare for a job interview

You should use the time before an interview to develop your interviewing skills. This can include preparing interview questions. Or looking deeper into an applicant’s work experience, cover letter and CV.

You may use an Applicant Tracking System to manage your hiring process. These can be very useful if you are hiring for multiple roles or work within a larger company.

How to conduct an effective job interview

Holding an effective interview can help you identify the right candidates for your position. The process is likely to differ depending on the role and industry you're in. Along with what skills you need from applicants.

Let's explore how to conduct a job interview:

Welcome the candidate

When a candidate first arrives you should welcome them and try to make them feel comfortable. Thank them for taking time out to come to the interview and appreciate that they are altering their schedules to accommodate you.

Your candidate may be very nervous so begin with some small talk. This can help them feel relaxed and make a positive first impression. Breaking the ice can make it easier for them to answer more difficult questions later in the interview process.

Explain the process

It's important to give candidates a rough outline of what to expect from the hiring process. This can include the type of questions you will ask and how many stages there will be. As well as whether or not there will be a task for them to complete.

Setting an agenda can help you stay on track when conducting an interview. But it can also give the candidate a better idea of how your company conducts business.

Introduce your business

An ideal candidate should have already looked into your business. However, it's always best for you to explain your business in your own words.

This helps candidates understand more about your company's culture and management style. It can also help them to learn more about the role they have applied for. And how it fits within the company as a whole.

Discuss the role and what your company is looking for

Interviews should be a two-way discussion. While the candidate is likely trying to impress you with their work history, they will also be assessing whether the job role is a good fit.

A job posting is often limited by word count. So, providing some more details on the job description and the specific responsibilities can help applicants better understand the role.

A candidate may have some questions about the posting so try to answer them as best as possible. This can include anything that you may still be deciding on and any factors that are non-negotiable.

Review the candidate's cv and experience

A candidate's resume and cover letter can provide insights into their experience. But you should ask specific questions to get a full picture of their work history.

Begin with more general open-ended questions about their work history and why they applied for this specific position. This allows them to provide a wider view of their experience. From here you can ask follow-up questions that relate to specific skills you need for the role.

Make notes

The interview process can be time-consuming. So make sure you document relevant information from every interview. This can help you compare candidates and pick the best person for the role.

Remember to note soft skills as well as your first impression. Their level of self-awareness and ability to work with other employees is just as important as their experience.

Allow the candidate to ask questions

Once you’ve run through your list of questions, it's time to ask the candidate for their thoughts. This is a chance for them to ask any follow-up questions relating to the role or company as a whole.

This is an important part of the recruitment process as you can gauge how the candidate is feeling. It also gives an insight into their communication skills. The best candidates will have a few well-thought-out questions that directly relate to the role and working conditions.

Explain the next steps in the process

The steps a candidate will need to take will depend on the role and the level of seniority. Candidates may expect to hear about completing a task or presentation. You may also want to include a group interview stage.

Let the candidate know when they should expect to hear about the role and whether you are holding other interviews. Provide a time frame if possible so that candidates aren't left in the dark.

What topics can you cover in an interview?

What you discuss will vary depending on your company and the role. However, you should ask consistent questions to help you compare candidates and give everyone a fair chance.

You may ask candidates about:

  • Their work history and experience.
  • Their hobbies outside of the workplace.
  • Any particular skills they have that would be useful in this role.
  • Information about their job performance in previous roles.
  • Situational questions about potential role-specific scenarios.
  • Opinion-based questions or brain teasers.

Examples of questions to ask a candidate

It’s important to prepare for an interview thoroughly. This will help you review job candidates effectively and get the answers you need.

Different questions can be broken into categories. And when conducting an interview, it can help to ask a few questions from each category. This can give you a well-rounded view of the person and how they would work within your business or team.

Personality questions

Hiring managers may begin by getting to know potential candidates on a more personal level. This can help break the ice and assess whether they would fit your company culture. It can also aid you in making a final decision if you’re stuck between two candidates.

Examples of personality interview questions include:

  • What are your hobbies outside of work?
  • What do you consider your biggest personal achievement?
  • What part of the job description most interested you?
  • Why do you want to work for this company?

Ability questions

Candidates should expect to answer questions about their working ability. Whether it's about how well they solve problems or if they have specific skills, this is a crucial part of any interview.

Examples of ability questions may include:

  • What skills do you have that would be useful in this role?
  • What is your experience in this field?
  • What software/systems are you most comfortable using?
  • What skills do you have that other candidates don't?

Qualification based questions

Some industries require employees to have relevant qualifications. So when conducting an interview, you need to verify whether they meet this criteria.

Qualification-based interview questions include:

  • What formal training do you have relating to this industry?
  • What certifications do you hold that are relevant to this role?
  • How can your experience benefit this business?
  • What experience do you have managing a team?

Career goals

When conducting an interview, it can help to ask a candidate about their career goals. This way, you can learn about their personal growth and career development. And asking these questions early on can help you when assessing your business and succession plans.

Examples of career goal questions include:

  • Where do you see yourself in five years.
  • What would you aim to achieve within your first year in this role?
  • What is your dream job role?
  • What changes would you make if you were to get this position?

Get advice on how to conduct a job interview from Peninsula

Hiring the right candidate for a role is a critical step in every business. And knowing how to conduct an interview can help you avoid costly hiring mistakes.

That's why it's important to manage every step of the hiring process effectively - from creating a job description to making your final decision.

Peninsula offers expert advice on how to conduct an interview and hire the right candidate. Our HR team offers 24/7 HR employment advice which is available 365 days a year.

Want to find out more? Get advice from one of our HR consultants. For further support, call our telephone number 0800 028 2420.

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