Urbanhire Jobseeker

Effective Interview


Nov 2016

A good interview doesn’t guarantee a successful hire. But sound interviewing and hiring techniques help you find the right person for the job. The hiring process requires employers to carefully balance gathering information to determine an applicant’s suitability, and not asking questions or engaging in pre-employment testing that runs afoul of federal and state discrimination laws.

Dos and dont’s prior to hiring

Following should be taken into consideration “prior to hiring”:

  • Use a good employment application that has passed a legal review and require the applicant to complete all relevant information on the application.
  • State on the application how long it is active (90 days, etc.) but only if unsuccessful applications are actually considered during the stated period when future openings occur.

Note: If file applications are not consulted, it is better not to make such a statement on the application, as it may extend the limitations period for filing a hiring claim.

  • Do not accept applications unless there is a job position open. Return unsolicited resume’s and inquiries to the applicants.
  • Write and maintain interview notes separate from the application.
  • Develop a job description for each position consistent with American’s with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements. When soliciting new employees, accurately define the stated skills, education, experience and physical requirements of the open position.
  • Before the interview, develop a list of open-ended questions that elicit job-related information. All personnel conducting interviews should have a basic knowledge of discrimination laws and understand the characteristics protected by applicable law.
  • Interviewers should avoid monopolizing the conversation and allow the applicant to talk and to fully respond to the open-ended questions; the more the applicant talks, the more information the employer will obtain about the candidate.
  • Perform a background check prior to the offer of employment. Request and check references. Conduct checks of driving records or conviction history where required for the position.
  • Do not tell applicants that they are hired, are a “shoo-in,” or that they’ll “probably will get the job” during the initial interview. Applicants should not be made an offer of employment until all pre-employment checks are conducted (except medical examination, in accordance with the ADA), and final hiring approval is obtained.
  • Never make any promises or assurances of permanent employment, job security, employment for a definite period of time, etc.
  • Have a pre-employment drug and alcohol testing policy reviewed by an attorney prior to implementation.

A hiring interview has three goals:

  • To assess the applicant
  • To describe the job and working conditions
  • To create goodwill for the company, whether or not the applicant is hired.

Interviews fall into two categories: Structured and Unstructured

Structured interviews: rely upon a pre-planned agenda. The interviewer knows ahead of time what he or she will ask the applicant and tries to stick to the agenda. Some interviewers will ask the questions in order. Others will take a more relaxed approach, while still addressing all of the pre-planned questions. Structured interviews generally provide the interviewer with the information needed to make the hiring decision. They also provide a defense against discrimination because all applicants are asked the same questions.

Unstructured interviews: do not rely upon a prepared agenda. Instead, the applicant sets the pace of the interview. This style of interviewing does not always provide the interviewer with necessary information. In addition, the lack of structure makes it difficult to compare and rank applicants because they do not respond to the same questions.

Interview questions should accomplish the following goals:

  • Determine an applicant’s qualifications and general character.
  • Expose undesirable traits.
  • Clarify information.
  • Provide other job-related data.
  • Reveal inconsistencies.

Employers should develop sound interview questions by looking at the job description and decide what the job demands in each of these areas:

  • Determine what skills and abilities the job requires, such as:
  • Work experience
  • Education
  • Technical skills
  • Communication skills
  • Analytical skills
  • Specialized training
  • Consider behavioral factors, such as:
  • Motivation
  • Interests
  • Goals
  • Drive and energy
  • Reliability
  • Stress tolerance
  • Address corporate culture with items such as:
  • Team orientation
  • Independence
  • Social effectiveness
  • Interpersonal style

Employers should continually review whether their inquiries elicit information that is job related. The concept of best practices consists of using the right tools in the right situation at the right time to generate a significant flow of quality candidates without overburdening existing resources. There are dozens of different techniques companies can use, however, those that maximize return on their investment are those who know which tools work best in which situations.


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