Recruitment and selection interviewing checklist
Recruitment and selection interviewing assesses (or partly assesses, in conjunction with other methods) an individual’s suitability for a job either inside or outside their current organisation.
1. Narrow the search
Interviewing is a fairly late step in the recruitment process, and follows the drawing up of a job description, listing of any behaviours or competencies required, placing of advertisements and short-listing of candidates (areas covered in related checklists). The information collected from these processes will form the basis of the criteria against which candidates may be judged.
2. Prepare yourself for the interview
To obtain maximum benefit from the interviewing process, careful planning and preparation are essential. Check on relevant policies and procedures and follow any necessary practices for completing required paperwork.
a) Style – interviews can take many forms, such as one to one, sequential one to one, or panel. All of these can be complemented by tests, presentations, group discussions and social events. Once the format has been agreed, brief everyone involved, including reception staff, and staff in the department of the vacancy. If several people are involved in interviewing, a chairman should be appointed. Decide how long each will hold the stage and who will ask what questions. asked.
b) Schedule – a realistic schedule is crucial. Running late and keeping interviewees waiting for extended periods can give a bad impression of the organisation. Draw up a schedule which allows time to interview, discuss, write notes and prepare for the next person. Plan too for some breaks, as interviewing carried out professionally can be very tiring.
c) Documentation – the application form or CV, person specification and job description are important documents to have before you. Read through all the relevant material beforehand, noting or highlighting particular areas of interest.
d) Environment – think carefully about the environment you want to create for the interview, considering your choice of room, chairs and layout, for example. No distractions should be permitted, as they disrupt the flow of an interview and can disturb candidates. Put a notice on the door, and divert phone calls or unplug the phone. If interruptions are still possible, identify another location.
3. Inform candidates that they have been selected for interview
Inform candidates in writing as soon as possible once they have been selected for interview. Include the date and time of their interview, giving a reasonable notice period (7-14 days is usually sufficient, but with more senior posts longer notice is desirable). Decide what you will do if the candidate genuinely cannot come on the specified date. Include in the information sent:
a location map and details of public transport
the length of time the interview is likely to take
the format of the interview (including whether psychometric or aptitude tests are involved, or an assessment centre is planned).
4. Work out how to record how each candidate performs
You may decide to develop a scoring or recording method, particularly if more than one person is involved in the interview process, or if more than three or four interviews are to be held. This can bring some method into establishing, remembering and measuring key points which can affect decisions. Weight the criteria you have established for the post and use a systematic points rating against these for each candidate as the interview progresses.
5. Plan the questions to ask
Questions can take many forms, such as, open, hypothetical, leading, probing or closed.
open questions: provide an open platform for the interviewee to structure and steer the response
hypothetical questions: allow the interviewer to establish how the candidate would act in a certain situation
leading questions: tend to make assumptions that the interviewee will inevitably confirm or deny
probing questions: enable the interviewer to explore an issue more fully, and can help draw out a bigger picture
closed questions: are useful to establish precise facts, but usually lead to very short ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answers.
If there is more than one interviewer, plan out who will ask which questions. Beware of asking discriminatory questions, or asking questions only of specific groups. Answers to some types of questions may be more difficult to score systematically.
6. Anticipate the interviewee’s questions
Most interviewees should have some questions which may be asked throughout the interview. It is good practice to check, as the interview closes, if there is anything further they would like to ask or add. These questions could relate, for example, to the job itself, employment conditions, further training, start date, possible help with finding temporary accommodation, or transport questions.
7. Get the climate right
At the start of the interview it is essential to put the candidate at his or her ease. If there are several interviewers, the Chair should introduce them all. Smile, shake hands if possible, and ask light, background questions to establish some rapport and create the right climate. At this point in the interview, the planned process should be explained to the candidate and further information about the role and responsibilities of the job should be given.
8. Observe closely, taking body language into account
The key to successful interviewing is to listen carefully and to look deeper than the words expressed. Don’t spend time thinking about how to phrase your next question (you should have decided this beforehand): while you are doing so you are not paying full attention to the candidate.
Watch your own body language, too: make it clear to the candidates that they have your continuous full attention.
9. Close the interview constructively
The ending of an interview can be as important as the beginning. It is important to keep to your schedule by not allowing the interview to continue indefinitely. Thank the candidate for attending and explain what will happen next – whether there will be a final decision or further short-listing, for example. Give an indication of the timescale you intend to work to – and ensure you stick to it.
10. Decide on the successful candidate
How you come to a decision can be the most difficult part of the process, particularly if interviewers disagree. Refer back to the scoring method to ensure that you base decisions on facts not feelings.
11. Data Protection and racial or other discrimination
A Code of Practice for recruitment and selection, issued under Data Protection legislation, gives failed candidates the right to see any notes made during or after their interview, in certain circumstances. The Freedom of Information Act 2000 also has information request implications, particularly for those interviewing within public authorities. The relatively new Equality Act 2010 which replaced and extended previous discrimination laws need to be adhered to.
12. Managers should avoid:
making decisions based on a gut reaction
breaking from the schedule
talking too much.
Follow this checklist and look forward to more robust, efficient and prosperous hiring outcomes.