Training & Development: Conducting an Interview

Mon Jan 14 2019

Sound interviewing techniques can keep you out of trouble. Know what to ask, and what not to ask during the interviewing process. Being prepared and organized is extremely important when it comes to interviewing a potential new hire. Have a list of questions that you want to ask the candidate and make sure they pertain to the specific job position as this can help you determine whether this candidate is fit for the role. To avoid any legal issues, never asking questions about the candidate’s personal life but rather focus on work-related questions. After all, this individual is a prospective employee and you want to ensure that they are qualified for the position, and that they are a good fit for your team.

Make sure that all interested persons complete a job application in order to become “a candidate”. With the proper language on your employment application, you will have obtained permission from the candidate to check his/her references at a future date. It also confirms your commitment to being an equal employment opportunity employer; without discrimination, and informing them of the “employment at will”. We recommend that you indicate at the bottom of your employment application.

Be consistent; do not discriminate in your interviewing processes. As influential as first impressions are, it’s important to avoid discriminating against any of your candidates. Staying consistent is essential as it allows you to conduct all interviews fairly, so that you can review every candidate in a similar manner. By being consistent with your questions, you can simplify the interview selection process by reviewing and comparing the candidates’ answers and responses. Provide all your interviewees with an equal opportunity to be considered for the specific position.

Document the interviews; do not write on the employment application; that is a legal document. Take notes on a separate piece of paper and staple/clip them to the application form. Make sure ALL candidates complete an employment application. By having accurate and documented information, you can easily keep records and revisit your notes once you have assessed all applicants. Take note of important and interesting statements that can help you remember the candidate when it’s selection time. This will also come in handy when you need to shortlist specific candidates.

Conduct all of your interviews in the same fashion. Make the applicant comfortable by letting them know how the interview process works. Briefly explain the process and what they can expect so candidates can mentally prepare for the interview and have a better understanding of what you’re looking for. Also inform candidates about what they can expect afterwards (e.g., follow-up call). This can help ease the stress involved with the interview process and provide candidates with an idea of what they can look forward to during and after the interview.

Don't do all of the talking! The candidate should be the person doing most of the talking. An interview is often your one opportunity to really get to know the candidate and find out about their qualifications and values. It’s important to listen to what the candidate has to say because this will allow you to determine which candidate is an ideal fit for the role. However, in the beginning of the interview, it’s important to provide a brief summary of the job position and some of the responsibilities for an employee in that role. This will help the candidates understand what the job criteria is in order for them to tailor their responses to fit those specific demands. Open ended questions are the best and remember that past behaviors usually predict future behaviors.

Inappropriate pre-employment questions include but are not limited to:

  • Marital status or maiden name;
  • Child care arrangements, number or age of children, family issues;
  • Home owner or renter inquiries;
  • Mode or method of transportation;
  • Age, date of birth, date of school graduation, etc.;
  • Birthplace or citizenship inquiries;
  • Nationality, ancestry, descent, mother tongue, preferred or most commonly used language, source of ability to speak other language(s);
  • Comments regarding hair, skin, eye color or complexion, race or color, or requiring a photograph;
  • Comments regarding weight, weight questions;
  • Health or medical history, work-related injury history or reasons for previous absences;
  • Physical limitation, handicaps, disabilities, source or reasons for (obvious) disability, nature of, severity of, or prognosis of (obvious) disability or extent of disability;
  • Religion or religious days observed;
  • Financial or credit history (including bankruptcy), or ability to be bonded;
  • Dates of military service, type of discharge, or service in foreign military;
  • Membership in social or fraternal organizations, clubs societies and lodges;
  • Names and locations of relatives for emergency contact purposes, or nature of relationship;
  • Any other questions that would elicit information about any of the protected groups.

For more helpful tips on how to conduct a pre-employment interview, email us at or call us at (818) 845-5584.