Checklist for Interviewing Potential Employees

A woman talks with a female applicant
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Looking for a checklist that summarizes the steps involved when you interview prospective employees? These steps should help your team know how to interview candidates so that you identify the most qualified person for your open position. If you know how to interview effectively, you can ensure that when you make a job offer, your chosen person can do the job, fit within your organization's culture, and become an asset to your business. These are the steps to follow to conduct effective interviews.

How to Interview Effectively

Hold a recruitment planning meeting early in your recruitment so that the ideal candidate is identified and your methods of producing a qualified candidate pool are optimal. Members of the interview teams for first and second interviews are assigned during the planning meeting. Additionally, you will want to plan the interview and follow-up process either in a meeting or by email.

  • Decide upon the screening questions for the HR recruiter and the hiring manager to use to perform initial phone interviews.
  • Assign behaviorally-based interview topics and questions to the employees who will participate in the interviews. You can also consider writing scenarios, or brief role plays, and ask the candidates to tell you how they would solve a particular problem, resolve a tricky work situation, or improve some aspect of work.
  • Ideally, each member of the interview team will assess a different aspect of the potential employee's qualifications: cultural fit, experience, ability to communicate, interpersonal effectiveness, technical capabilities, and so forth. In this way, you are more likely to notice, analyze, and assess the full spectrum of each candidate's skills, experience, and potential cultural fit.
  • The interviewers should ask each candidate the same basic questions so that in making comparisons between candidates later, they have similar information from each prospective employee.
  • Identify the appropriate questions for the candidate post-interview assessment by each interviewer. In addition to several generic questions, these should comprise a checklist that closely mirrors the characteristics you have determined are most important in the person you hire. This written checklist of questions is for the interviewer's notes.
  • Decide who the members of the core selection team will be. These are the employees who will take all of the information and responses generated by the interview team and meet to share and decide on the candidate to whom to make the job offer. This team should include the hiring manager, the HR representative, anyone with a vested interest in the position like an office mate or a co-team leader, the company president or won, depending on the size of the firm, and so forth.
  • Train interviewers that the only notes that should be written during an interview are the candidate's answers for later reference. The interviewer's personal opinions or words such as poor communicator, for example, are not descriptive. Instead, the interviewer should write down the behavior that he or she observes during the interview.

For example, rather than a poor communicator, the interviewer might note that the applicant failed to make eye contact when answering questions, rambled on and on during most responses without directly answering the question, or only looked at the male interviewers when responding.

  • Schedule an interview, for internal candidates, with the hiring manager, the manager of the hiring supervisor or a customer of the position and HR.
    Unless an internal candidate is unqualified for consideration for a position (e.g., an HR person with no technical experience applying to be a developer), all internal candidates deserve an interview for these reasons.
  • Interviewers fill out the job candidate evaluation form or a similar document or checklist that was constructed for this specific job opening.
  • In a participatory work environment in which many employees interview a particular candidate, a candidate debrief with 19-20 employees attending is ineffective. Employees should pass their feedback and notes to a core team member who will represent their view at the debriefing.
  • If no qualified internal candidates apply or are selected, extend the search to external candidates, if you didn't advertise the position simultaneously. Develop your candidate pool of diverse applicants.
  • Phone interview the candidates whose credentials look like a good fit for the position.
  • Schedule qualified candidates, whose salary needs you can afford, for a first interview with the hiring supervisor, an HR representative, and several other members of the interview team. In all cases, tell the candidates the timeline you anticipate the interview process will take. Some companies, such as Zappos, decide to do a cultural fit interview first with an HR recruiter before investing any other employee time in the interview process.
  • Hold the interviews during which the candidate is assessed and has the opportunity to learn about your organization and your needs.
  • Fill out the Job Candidate Evaluation Form or another documentation checklist that you created for a specific job for each candidate that you interviewed.
  • Core team meets after receiving feedback from the whole interview team, to determine which (if any) candidates to invite back for a second interview.
  • Determine the appropriate people to participate in the second round interviews. This might include potential coworkers, customers, the hiring manager, the hiring supervisor's manager, the president in a smaller firm, and HR if this group was not already selected at the recruitment planning meeting. Only include people who will impact the hiring decision.
  • Schedule the additional interviews.
  • Hold the second round of interviews with each interviewer clear about their role in the interview process. (Culture fit, technical qualifications, customer responsiveness, and knowledge are several of the screening responsibilities you may want your interviewers to assume.)
  • Interviewers fill out the candidate rating form.
  • Through the entire interviewing process, HR, and managers, where desired, stay in touch with the most qualified candidates via phone and email.
  • Decide on whether the organization wants to select any candidate (via informal discussion, a formal discussion at a core team meeting, HR staff touching base with interviewers, candidate rating forms, and so on). If disagreement exists, the supervising manager should make the final decision. Look at: 7 Critical Factors to Consider Before You Make a Job Offer.
  • If no candidate is superior, start again to review your candidate pool and redevelop a pool if necessary.