Interviewing Information/Resources


Supervisors want to select the person most suitable for the job opening. Following are some tips on phases of the search process, including preparation, conducting the interview and follow-up action.

Sorting Resumes

A resume is the first indication of what a candidate is like. Careful screening of resumes will save time wasted in unproductive interviews.

Quick Scan - scan to determine the quality of the applicants. If many are well qualified, disregard those who are only marginally qualified. At this step or during the next, weed out those who clearly do not meet the minimum qualifications.

Screen - look in more detail at actual experience and qualifications compared to the requirements. Give each resume a grade of:

  • Candidates who meet all qualifications
  • Candidates who have most, but not all qualifications
  • Candidates who have several deficiencies

In-Depth Screen - review in-depth those you have ranked as #1's to determine who you will interview. Review based on work history, education and training, writing quality, construction of resume and overall suitability for the job.

Applications are set up in the same format, so it is easier to scan for needed information. It includes specific information, as opposed to a resume that has information the candidates presents.

Where there is a large application pool and candidates have been rated as #1 or #2, it may be helpful to send rejection letters to #3 candidates immediately. The next step is to send letters to #2 candidates, indicating receipt of their resumes.

Developing Interview Questions

  • Ask Behavioral Interviewing Questions - The best predictor of how a person will do in the future is what he of she has done in the past.
  • Be Aware of Legal Perspectives - Self-question: Is this information really needed to judge an applicant's competence for the job in question?
    • Three Rules of Thumb:
      Ask only for information that will be used to make a hiring decision
      Know how the information will be used to make the decision
      Recognize that it is difficult to defend the practice of seeking information that is unused.
  • Ask Open Ended Questions
  • Remember to have a Mix of Technical and Interpersonal Questions

See Guide to Writing Essential Functions

Sample Interview Questions

Typically, a wide variety of questions can be used to gain information about a candidate's job skills. Use these questions as guides to help develop questions that target specific job skill requirements.

  1. Describe a time on any job that you've held in which you were faced with problems or stresses, which tested your coping skills. What did you do?
  2. Give an example of a time when you had to keep from speaking or not finish a task because you did not have enough information to come to a good decision.
  3. Give an example of a time when you had to be relatively quick in coming to a decision.
  4. Tell me about a time when you had to use your spoken communication skills in order to get a point across that was important to you.
  5. Can you tell me about a job experience in which you had to speak up in order to be sure that other people knew what you thought at work?
  6. Give me an example of a specific occasion when you conformed to a policy with which you did not agree.
  7. Describe a situation in which you felt it necessary to be very attentive and vigilant to your environment.
  8. Give an example of a time when you had to use your fact-finding skills to gain information for solving a problem - then tell me how you analyzed the information to come to a decision.
  9. Give me an example of an important goal that you set in the past and tell me about your success in reaching it.
  10. Describe the most significant written document/report/presentation that you have had to complete.
  11. Give me an example of a time when you had to go "above and beyond the call of duty" in order to get a job done.
  12. Give me an example of a time when you were able to successfully communicate with another person, even when that individual may not have personally liked you.
  13. Describe a situation in which you were able to effectively "read" another person and guide your actions by your understanding of their individual needs or values.
  14. What did you do in your last job in order to be effective with your organization and planning? Be specific.
  15. Describe the most creative work-related project that you have carried out.
  16. Describe a time when you felt it was necessary to modify or change your actions in order to respond to the needs of another person.
  17. Give me an example of a time when you had to carefully analyze another person or a situation in order to be effective in guiding your action or decision.
  18. What did you do in your last job to contribute toward a teamwork environment? Please be specific.
  19. Give me an example of a problem that you faced on any job you have had and share how you went about solving it.
  20. Describe a situation in which you were able to positively influence the actions of others in a desired direction.

Conducting the Interview

Establish Rapport, Make the Candidate Feel At Ease

  1. Greet the applicant in a friendly and courteous manner and introduce him/her to any other interviewer.
  2. Conduct interviews in a private setting with no interruptions.
  3. "Break the ice" by asking non-threatening questions...about the weather, etc.

Explain Interview Procedures

Provide an overview of how you will conduct the interview (ex: "I would like to start by talking to you about your work experiences, then share with you what this position entails. Then, I will answer your questions").

Gather Information about the Applicant

  1. Ask open-ended questions to solicit information (questions beginning with "why" and "how").
  2. Ask probing questions to encourage a fuller explanation.
    1. Applicant should be doing about 80% of the talking in this stage.

Describe the Job and the Organization

  1. Explain the duties of the position and the goals of the department.
  2. Discuss opportunities for training and development, upward mobility, etc.
  3. Discuss personnel policies, salary information, benefits, etc.

Answer Questions and Allow Applicant to Add Information

  1. Be prepared to answer tough questions, i.e., opportunities for upward mobility, supervisory style, goals for the position, etc.
  2. Now that the applicant knows more about the job, he/she will want to add more information about his/her qualifications for it.

Conclude the Interview

  1. Ask if the applicant has other questions.
  2. Thank him/her for his/her time and interest.
  3. Inform applicant of what will happen next.
  4. After applicant has left, write notes about the interview.
  5. Conduct a reference check, if this is a serious candidate.

Reference Checks

The best time to check references is after the interview. Because this is a time consuming process, check only those applicants with a potential "fit" to the position. The most effective reference checks are conducted over the phone, allowing follow-up on a response and an opportunity to probe for more information.

Recent litigation has kept many employers from providing subjective references. Instead, they will often only verify titles, dates of employment and responsibilities. In order to avoid potential invasion of privacy or defamation of character claims, Human Resources will usually only verify employment (titles, date of employment, etc.).

General Guidelines

  • If there is a discrepancy on the resume, investigate with the reference and/or applicant.
  • Be even more skeptical of "off the record" statements.
  • View silence as a Red Flag for further investigation. Often when an employee is terminated, agreements are made not to provide unfavorable references.
  • Ask only questions that are job related and verifiable.

Sample Reference Questions

  1. Would you rehire the applicant if he/she applied for another job with your institution/company?
  2. How did the applicant's performance compare to expectations in each major area of responsibility?
  3. What were the applicant's strengths and weaknesses?
  4. What was the applicant's relationship with co-workers, with the supervisor?
  5. What was his/her attendance record?
  6. What were the circumstances under which the applicant left your employment?
  7. Did the applicant demonstrate that he/she would be a good candidate for the position he/she is currently applying for?

Providing References for Former (or Current) Employees

  • Stick to specific job related, and ideally, documented facts.
  • Reference information should relate only to the applicant's performance; should not be slanderous in nature, nor maliciously provided. Avoid judgement statements concerning appearance, personality and personal traits unless they can be directly tied to job requirements.
  • Avoiding discussion of negative behavior on the part of an employee may not protect you from potential litigation.

QUICK TIPS - Conducting Interviews Legally

50 Behavioral Based Interview Questions