Businesses succeed and fail with the choice of people. Choosing wrong interviewing techniques, or asking wrong questions while talking to the job candidates, can easily result in hiring a wrong person for the job. And this will invariably lead to the loss of money, and loss of your time (since you will have to repeat the entire recruitment process again, or hire an agency to take care of it).  

Our step by step guide should help you understand how to design your interview process, and how to proceed from one step to another, while hiring new people for your company. Let’s start!


Step one: Identify the profile of a perfect job candidate

Without understanding who you want to hire for the job, you can never design a good interview process. First and foremost, you should clearly specify what the person will do (list of their working duties), and what will be their position in the company (who will be their superior and subordinate, what will be their position in the company hierarchy).

Then you should think about the education and experience they need to handle their duties, their skills and abilities. Equally important are their personal traits, their attitude to work and to other people. Once you know what they will do, and with whom they will interact in work, you should be able to specify all of these things.

Should the person excel in management? Do leadership skills matter for the job? What computer programs should they work with? Are you looking for a team player, or from someone who can handle their work independently, without any supervision? Write down the list of characteristics–this is called a profile of an ideal job candidate.

The more characteristics you have, the easier it will be to create a template for an interview, and to eventually decide at the end. That’s why this first step is crucial, and unless you do it right, you will struggle later on.

Step two: Prepare interview questions and case studies

Once you understand the profile of a perfect job candidate, you need to think how you will identify such a person in an interview, how you will asses each skill and personal trait that is important for the job.

Some skills and abilities can be assessed from the way the candidates talk and conduct themselves in an interview, and some other skills and attitudes can be uncovered with the right interview questions, or case studies.

Each question should make sense, and you should know why you ask the question. Short case studies are your best bet to assess the skills of job candidates realistically.

For example, if you try to understand if a person can manage people and resources, you can give them a short description of a project, or a challenge (a fictive one, or one you have dealt with in the company), and ask them how they would proceed to handle the challenge.

This will help you to assess their readiness for the job, and understand their way of thinking.

To see more examples how a question can help you to assess the ability of a candidate, check our article about competency based interview questions.


Step three: Practical tests and exams

If you want to find out if someone can peal potatoes, the best way to do so is giving them a potato, a good knife, and ask them to peel it.

If we want to see if someone can teach Spanish, the best way to do it is give them a subject, and ask them to mock the lesson,and teach us in an interview.

Throw them into the water. Ask them to do their job. This is the easiest and the most accurate way of assessing someone’s skill in a certain area.

a man peel potatoes, as a practical test in an interview

IQ test

Intelligence does not guarantee anything, but sometimes we may look for an employee with high IQ (or, in other cases, for one with low IQ).

The best way to assess the IQ is to let the job candidates to complete a simple IQ test, consisting of at least twenty questions (results of shorter tests are often misleading). You can browse the internet, find a free test, and use it in your interview, or you can pay an organization that specializes in creating custom IQ tests to design one for you.


A few things to remember when designing an interview template

  • Do not overdo it with questions. If the interview is too long, you will lose your focus, and so will the job candidate. If your talk takes more than an hour, try to split it to two parts (two interview rounds, or even more, which is nothing uncommon). Alternatively you can add a break, or a short IQ test in the middle of the session.
  • Do not waste time with questions that will not help you. You should always know why you ask a question, what capacity you try to assess with it, and what answer you expect from a good candidate for a job. If any question on your list does not meet the criteria, cross it out.
  • Include as many practical questions and tests as you can. People with great communication skills can often convince us about anything–any skill, or ability. But practical test will always reveal their real level of expertise in a given field.
  • Try to be nice to the job applicants, try to create a friendly atmosphere in the room. Interview is a stressful experience. I saw many times that a company screened out a great job candidate, just because the person could not show all their skills, being bound with stress…


The job applicant is not the only one selling their skills in an interview

The last but maybe the most important advice is this one: Do remember that you also sell something in an interview.

Finding a great job candidate is one thing, and signing a contract with them another. Everyone can say NO to your offer at the end of the interview. If they do not have a good feeling from the meeting, if they doubt your skills, they can easily refuse your offer–doesn’t matter how generous it is.

Try your best, follow our guide, conduct the interview in a professional way, and convince the job candidates of your skills, and qualities. Convince them that your company is a great place for work.


Other posts on Interview Penguin that may interest you:

  • Rejection letter – A simple rejection letter is a polite way of informing the candidates who did not succeed in an interview with your company.
  • Interviewing techniques for employers – Four basic techniques to interview job candidates. Pick the one that suits your situation and recruitment needs.
  • Funny interview questions – You can use a funny question to ease the pressure in the interview room, to help job seekers to relax, or oppositely, to surprise them with an unexpected question.
Matthew Chulaw
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