During the interview your goal is to gather information so you can make a solid hiring recommendation. It is important to remember that candidates come from a variety of sources. Not all candidates want to interview with Your Company. In some cases, we have persuaded them to consider Your Company and come meet with you. Always read the mail from the staffing consultant on the morning of the interview to learn more about the circumstances of this candidate. Perhaps they are a referral, a student thinking of leaving their graduate program, or a person interviewing from a competitor.

Most of the below is a general guideline, if you are the recruiter you will modify it to address the areas you are suppose to address, if you are a technical person that you will modify it to address the technical areas, if you are the hiring manager then you will modify it accordingly. But this is designed to utilize the BTOS method and Looklisology(see previous blog postings).

Interview Etiquette

It is very important that all candidates have a positive experience interviewing at Your Company, regardless of whether you make an offer. Even if we decide not to hire a candidate they may have friends we could be interested in or at minimum, be a customer. A candidate who leaves feeling that they were treated unfairly or poorly will definitely tell their friends. Please remember to do the following:

Introduce yourself and explain what you do.

  • Remember that you are representing Your Company, everything you do and do not do reflects on your company.
  • Help the candidate understand why Your Company is a great place to work.
  • Be polite and friendly.
  • Take notes discreetly and not just for errors.
  • Don’t ridicule candidates or terminate interviews early.
  • Don’t try to prove anything about your own skills.


Before your meeting with the candidate it is important to prepare. You will in most cases want to do the following things:

  • Read the resume; highlight things that you will want to ask questions about. Reading the resume is the first step in preparing for an interview. The resume should give you insight into what the candidate has done, where they have worked, where they were educated, and significant projects they have worked on.
  • Be prepared to utilize Looklisology (see previous blog postings on Lookology and Lisology) and the BTOS interviewing methodology(see previous blog postings).
  • The resume will also provide you with a way to get the interview started on comfortable ground for the candidate. For example, "Tell me about a project you did that was involving databases?"
  • Use the interview as an opportunity to get beneath the resume and probe deeper into the candidate's background. It is important to learn how and why the candidate did what the resume says they did. In addition, you can probe beneath the resume to find out more about how the person works. Were they a significant contributor, or did all the great ideas come from others. How much of a difference did they make on the product? Did they improve the product by questioning decisions, suggesting alternatives, etc.? This is also a great place to figure out what they've learned from their experiences. What went right in the project, what went wrong, what would they do differently and why? In this way, you will be able to learn about the candidate’s behavior—the best predictor of their future success at Your Company. Of course utilizing the BTOS method.
  • Read previous interviewer's feedback, or feedback from interviews in the past(if available). The feedback will help you understand what the candidate has already been asked as well as what areas still need to be probed (don’t be influenced by the recommendation).
  • Decide what BTOS questions you are going to ask and if your questions are new, review them with somebody else.
  • Prepare your office:

  • Turn off noisy machines
  • Put your phone on do not disturb
  • Make sure you have a chair for the candidate
  • Make sure your whiteboard has space if you plan to use your white board
  • Don't leave sensitive Your Company information or interview feedback visible
  • Make sure to have a clock in view, which will help you keep the interview on schedule.

Interview Structure

Most interviews at Your Company should be between forty-five and sixty minutes. During this time you want to maximize the time you spend evaluating the candidate's skills but you will also want to allow for a few other things. A Company interview should follow this format:

Introduction: 5 minutes. Important to take these first minutes to build rapport. Put the candidate at ease to encourage openness and honesty. If you're not the first interviewer of the day ask how the candidate feels about the interviews so far.

Some things that will help put the candidate at ease, create a relaxed atmosphere and consequently allow the candidate to feel more open and honest:

  • Ask if they need a drink or need to use the rest room.
  • Introduce yourself.
  • Find a connecting item. This means use small talk as a way to find a common ground. Something you have in common; sports, movies, books..etc. etc. This will always put the candidate at ease.
  • Describe your role and generally what you are working on.
  • Take a minute to set the stage and describe the interview process and set their expectations about the detailed type of information that you are looking for.

The majority of your interview will be spent probing into a candidate's competencies, skills, and technical or business knowledge and experience.

Fact Finding Section: 30-45 minutes. Focus on the candidate's education and work background, portfolio (if applicable), work samples (if applicable), knowledge, skills and talents using the BTOS approach(see previous blog postings), utilizing Looklisology (see previous blog postings on Lookology and Lisology), etc..

Now of course legally there are things you cannot ask. Below is a quick, bullet point list of some things you cannot ask. This is not all entailing, so please consult your HR or recruiters(if you are not HR or a recruiter) for more information.

OK, so what can’t I ask?

  • Any question regarding sex (including pregnancy and childbirth), marital status, religious belief, ethical belief, color, race, ethnic or national origin, disability, age, political opinion, employment status, family status or sexual orientation.
  • Statements regarding the need to hire "bright, young people" and that our company is a "young company." (Implies age is an employment factor.)
  • Statements that a candidate is being rejected on the ground that he/she is "over qualified." (A more appropriate ground is that another candidate was a better match for the job.)
  • Fair pre-employment practices pertain to any part of the conversation you have with the candidate, at any time prior to employment. This includes off-handed comments, lunch time conversation, and small talk.
  • Seemingly innocent comments such as "What an interesting name you have, is that Greek?" are inappropriate. (It may appear to be an attempt to determine the candidate's ethnic background for discriminatory purposes.)
  • If the candidate volunteers personal of information, don’t probe further – redirect the conversation.
  • If you have questions of a personal nature for the candidate, please ask your recruiter, not the candidate.
  • Sharing your personal challenges and experiences is okay if it is job related.

Wrap-up and questions: 5-10 minutes. Depending where you are on the interview schedule you may spend more time selling the candidate or addressing specific concerns about the group, Your Company, the geographical region, etc. Interviewers earlier on a schedule may spend more time in a wrap-up making the candidate feel comfortable about upcoming interviews.

Some things to remember to do in your wrap-up:

  • Let the candidate ask you questions about what it's like to work here.
  • Tell candidate why you like working at Your Company.
  • When appropriate, identify any strong preferences the candidate has about the type of work they would like to do (Systems, Multimedia, Databases, etc.).
  • Describe next steps.
  • Refer any awkward questions to the recruiter. Tell the recruiter about any concerns that the candidate has so the recruiter can address these during their end of day wrap-up. (if you are the recruiter then you can address these issues)

Finally write your feedback and recommendations. Ensure they are clear, concise, and are provided to all interviewers and the recruiter(see blog on interview feedback).

Views: 269

Comment by Ralph Leon on March 16, 2010 at 7:44pm
Great and very thorough article. I think its important to realize that no two interviews are the same and as you have shown, should be approached according to the interviewee. Your section on preparation was well done and I think is one of the most important parts of the interview. The more prepared the better the interview. Thanks for sharing your outline!


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