HR Corner By Allison, Recruiting Manager

Planning and Preparing For The Interview
A formal, planned, structured interview is a valuable tool in assessing a candidate’s potential success for a particular position. By utilizing proper interview techniques, companies can reduce turnover, time to hire, and minimize costs, which will enable you to find the right candidate the first time.

Prior to the interview the applicant’s resume should be reviewed once again in order to identify and/or clarify key areas in which you need more information. Information to review on the resume and which should be addressed during the interview includes:

1. Appearance of resume
–Was it put together haphazardly, are there typing mistakes?

2. Gaps in time
–Are there periods of time that aren’t accounted for?

3. Overlaps in time
–Do jobs overlap?

4. Inconsistencies between education and experience

5. Rate of job changes
–Does this person change jobs frequently?

6. Reasons for leaving previous positions

7. Job titles

8. Red flags
–Information that doesn’t make sense or makes you uncomfortable

Interview conditions
The setting of the interview is important and can impact the success or failure of the interview. Interviews should take place in a private setting where there are no distractions or interruptions. Remember that while you are assessing the candidate, they too are assessing their surroundings and making comparisons to other companies they have interviewed with. To reduce distractions, inform your assistant and/or department of your interview schedule, put your phone on send calls, have the resume and job description in front of you, be ready to show an organizational chart if necessary, and have paper for taking notes (do not write directly on the resume).

Interview Guidelines
To interview effectively, you should have a general plan of how the interview will proceed. Here are some steps to consider:

Welcome the applicant-Introduce yourself and initiate small talk. Avoid subjects such as politics, newsworthy events, etc. –keep topics neutral.

Establish the framework- Explain the interview process to the candidate. For example, tell the candidate that the interview will last approximately 45 minutes, he/she will be meeting with 3 other employees in the department, you will be taking notes, and at the end the candidate can ask questions.

Describe the position- Explain the responsibilities of the position, your expectations of that position, and how the job relates to other departments. It is a good idea during this time to discuss the Company, its goals, and how this job is relevant to the achievement of the Company’s goals.

Gather information- First review their background information then move on to specific areas of the resume.

Respond to questions-Ask the candidate if they have any questions.

Next Steps-Let the candidate know the time frame for filling the position and what the next step will be.

Behavioral Questions
Behavioral-based interviewing is a structured interview designed to obtain responses to specific questions about past job behaviors to predict future performance. The assumption of this type of interviewing is that previous behaviors will be repeated in similar situations. The goal of behavioral interviewing is to hire the candidate who has exhibited the necessary behaviors to be successful as defined by the manager during the job analysis.

Knowing how to properly conduct a behavioral-based interview allows you the opportunity to:
• Accurately observe a candidate’s behavior(s)
• Obtain important information on the candidate’s background
• Assess the depth of knowledge, skills, and competencies of the candidate by asking behavioral questions
• Describe the job and expectations associated with it
• Identify if an accommodation may be required to enable an applicant with a disability to perform the essential job functions
• Promote a favorable image of the company

Behavioral questions
Open-ended questions allow you to probe the candidate for more information while providing the interviewer with information to build upon. Examples of these types of questions usually begin with Tell me… Give me an example… Explain…

Behavioral-based interviews can also help reveal changes in behavior, reaction, and results of the candidate being interviewed.

Here are some samples of behavioral or open-ended questions:

Work Experience/Knowledge/Conscientiousness

1. Tell me about your current position. Describe your day-to-day activities.

2. What do you do to keep up to date in your field? How have these things contributed to your knowledge?

3. Which aspects of your work must be done on time? What have you done to meet deadlines?

4. How do you keep up to date on what your company’s competition is doing?

5. I see on your resume, you’ve attended XYZ training/course. Can you provide me with details on that training/course? What did you do in that training/course?

Analytical Thinking

1. What has been one of your most challenging situations which required your analysis?

2. Have you ever identified a potential problem or an opportunity that your manager or others had not seen? Tell me about a time when this happened.

3. Have you ever been in a situation where there has been a repeated problem/issue at work? Tell me about it. What did you do about the situation?


1. What is your reason for making a job change at this time?

2. Give me an example of a time when you helped an employee accept change. What steps did you take to get that person to accept the change


1. Tell me about a time when your supervisor asked you to do a job that was not part of your job description?

2. Describe a situation in which you had a difficult management problem. How did you solve it?

Initiative/Work Standards

1. Tell me about a time when you made a suggestion to improve a function, project, etc. What was the result?

2. Tell me about a project your manager asked you handle. What step did you take to get the project accomplished?

3. Tell me about a time when you went the extra mile.

4. What area would you like to improve about yourself? Give me an example when that attribute or characteristic prevented you from achieving desired results.

5. Tell me about a goal or a task which presented the most obstacles for you?

6. How has your job changed since you started? Who initiated the change? How were the changes initiated?

7. What assignments or projects have you taken on since you have been in the position? How did you go about assuming these tasks?

8. In your current position, what standards have you set for doing a good job? How did you determine what those standards were?

9. What contributions to your department are you most proud of?


1. Tell me about a time when you had to complete a difficult assignment. What did you learn from that experience?

2. Tell me about a time when you worked on a team that failed.

3. Describe a management situation that you would do differently if you had to do it all over again.

4. Tell me about the last time you delegated responsibility to a subordinate. What was the situation?

5. How do you manage the performance of those who report to you?

6. Tell me about a time when you raised an individual’s level of performance? How did you communicate it to that individual? What was the outcome?

7. Describe a time when you had to get your staff to implement a policy or decision they did not agree with.

Interpersonal Skills

1. Tell me about a time when your supervisor criticized your work. How did you handle it?

2. Describe a project you were responsible for where you interacted with different departments for a period of time.

3. Tell me about some of the groups you had to get cooperation from. What did you do?

4. What previous job was the most satisfying and why?

5. What job was the most frustrating and why?

6. Describe two tasks that you do not particularly enjoy. How do you remain motivated to complete those tasks?

7. Tell me about a time when you had to work with someone from another department on a project.

8. We all find some people difficult/challenging to work with. Tell me about a time when you’ve had to work with someone who you considered difficult/challenging. What was the result?

9. What people in your present position do you work with most frequently? Which ones do you get along with best? Tell me about a time when you all got along.

10. We’ve all had to work with people who see things differently from us. Give me an example when you had to work with someone who didn’t see eye to eye with you. How did you handle it?


1. What kinds of pressures or stresses have you faced in your current position? How do you handle them?

2. What have been the sudden or most major changes in your job?

3. How has your job changed since you’ve been in the position? Which of these changes seemed unsettling?


1. Tell me about a time when you were able to avoid or eliminate a potential problem to a situation.

2. Give me an example of an important decision you had to make at your last job.

3. Tell me about a time when you had to make an unpopular decision.

4. Describe a time when you had to be creative to resolve a situation.

5. Tell me about a situation where you had to abruptly change what you were doing. How did you handle it?

6. Describe a situation where you worked under pressure or met deadlines.

7. What type of approach to solving work problems works best for you? Give me an example of when you solved a tough problem.

8. If you could change one managerial decision you made during the last year, what would that be?

9. What have you done that was innovative? Tell me about it.

10. When was the last time you broke the rules? How did you do it?


1. What kinds of situations in your job have required you to be flexible?

2. Tell me about a situation when you assumed additional responsibilities. Describe this situation and how you handled it.

3. Tell me about a big change that affected the way in which you perform your work.

Miscellaneous Questions:

1. How do your measure your own success?

2. What is important to you in a job?

3. What do you expect to find in a company that you don’t have now?

4. Is there anything you wanted me to know about you that we haven’t discussed?

5. What was your favorite position and what role did your boss play in making it so unique?

6. What was your least favorite position? What role did your boss play in your career at that point?

7. What would your current supervisor say makes you most valuable to him/her/department?

8. How does your position relate to the overall goals of the company?

9. Describe how you’ve moved through the ranks and landed in your current position?

These open-ended questions allow the candidate an opportunity to talk without answering only yes or no, which in turn allows you to actively listen to his/her responses, assess both verbal and nonverbal communication skills, and gives you time to plan for the next question.

Tip: Interviewers should be talking 30% of the time and listening 70%.

By following these guidelines, you can reduce your chances of negligent hiring and improve retention while filling your open positions with qualified individuals. Just remember to be objective, be fair, know the facts, and be consistent.