Maximize Your Interview Process to Find and Hire the Best Job Candidates

Anyone who’s conducted interviews for their company knows how important it is to find and hire the right candidate for the job.

One of the challenges of the interview process is that, in a relatively short period of time, you need to determine whether your candidate is going to be a great hire. As the employment market continues to improve, your applicants have more options. That means that you not only have to be an effective interviewer, you also need to do a great job of selling the job, and your company, to prospective employees.

Here are some effective interviewing tips to consider when you have your next job opening:

Prepare a Job Description 

A good job description will help you develop effective interview questions. For the applicant, a good job description helps them understand the role and what will be required of them. Include:

  • The job title and a brief description of the key duties
  • Required experience and qualifications (including education, certificates or licenses)
  • A list of any special working conditions or physical requirements (e.g., must be able to lift 20 pounds)
  • Prepare for the Interview

Determine who should be involved in the interview process. If possible, include one or two trusted individuals.

Ask each interviewer to carefully review the candidate’s resume in advance. Managers are often very busy and don’t read resumes ahead of time. Not only is this an ineffective way to interview, but it can give a candidate the idea that you don’t take your interview process seriously, which makes a poor first impression. With that in mind, before the interview:

  • Identify specific questions to ask the candidate, as well as areas of their resume or experience you’d like to probe
  • Know the details of the position, as well as required vs. preferred skills (keeping in mind the skills you have with your existing team)
  • To avoid distractions, ensure you have a professional, quiet interview environment
  • Silence your cell phone so you can focus on your candidate
  • Allot enough time for the interview

Conducting the Interview 

Minimize the stress associated with job interviews by giving the candidate a clear understanding of your interview process. Tell them what they can expect, including who they will be interviewing with, how long they can expect to be at your office, and your role with the company. In addition, you can discuss the role they applied for and that you plan to review their background and skills. Finally, let them know that there will be a few minutes at the end of the interview for you to answer any questions they might have.

Types of Interview Questions 

There are several types of questions you should ask during the interview. These include:

Open-Ended: These are broad questions that require the candidate to elaborate. For example:

  • Can you give me a general overview of your current responsibilities?
  • What types of decisions have you made without consulting the boss?

Closed-Ended: These are typically questions that prompt a yes or no answer, and are ideal for helping you collect basic information, such as:

  • Were you required to travel in your last position?
  • How many people have you supervised in the past?

Hypothetical: These are useful if you have an entry-level candidate without much work experience. The questions will help you look for signs of leadership, customer service, and the ability to handle conflict. For example:

  • Imagine you have a deadline and you’re running late; what would you do?
  • You overhear a colleague speaking rudely to a customer. Would you report them to a supervisor? How would you handle the incident?

Behavioral-Based: Past performance is an indicator of future performance. Probing into the candidate’s actual experience will give you a sense of how they will perform in the future.

  • Describe a time when you showed a great deal of initiative.
  • Tell me about a challenging situation you faced in your current position.

Illegal Interview Questions 

It is against the law to ask candidates questions regarding:

  • Race or color
  • Sex or sexual orientation
  • Religion
  • National origin or birthplace
  • Age
  • Disability
  • Marital or family status (such as asking if they have children)

In addition, the new Pay Equity Act, effective January 1, 2018, prohibits employers in Massachusetts from requesting or requiring that a job applicant disclose salary history, or seeking the salary history of any prospective employee from a current or former employer. However, the law doesn’t prevent an applicant from sharing their salary history if they want to. You are also permitted to ask a candidate what their salary expectation is. In case you missed it, we covered the new Pay Equity Act in detail in last month’s post.


Keep in mind that the candidate is also interviewing you to determine if the role is right for them, so remember to sell the position and your company! Tell them good things about the job, and be realistic and enthusiastic about your company.

The wrap-up is also a good time to inform the candidate about next steps. However, if you’ve just started the interview process, don’t feel obligated to commit to a date as to when you’ll be making a decision.

Once the position has been filled, send a short email or letter to the job candidates who were not selected, thanking them for taking the time to interview and letting them know the position has been filled. This will leave a good impression, and it will help you avoid fielding multiple follow-up phone calls from all the candidates.

We hope these tips help your interview process go more smoothly, and help you make the best hires for your organization. If you have questions about interview strategies and tactics, or any other HR-related issues, or would like information about our on-site Interview Skills for Managers Training, feel free to contact us at

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