Interview Best Practices

Best Practices for Interviewing Candidates

If you often make hiring decisions, you’ll know that first impressions matter. Although, don’t think that it’s just for candidates, it’s important for employers to make an impression, too. The interview is an opportunity to sell the vacancy, as well as your company, to interviewees. From preparation and body language, to how you assess their ability, there are a number of interview best practices. With that in mind, here are things to remember when conducting an interview.

Be Prepared

Preparation is critical. Not only will it help things run smoothly but it will also relax your candidate. Some of this might seem obvious but having the basics in order will set the tone for the rest of the interview. Some of the things you can do to prepare yourself for interviewing candidates include:

  • Read the Position Description and understand the role.
  • You want to be familiar with the candidate’s background so review their application, resume and LinkedIn profile, whilst noting down any key discussion points or areas of concern.
  • Ensure you have a good understanding of the competencies and the key behaviours.
  • Review the selection criteria and check the behavioural questions and how they relate to the criteria.
  • Have a room ready beforehand and ensure it is tidy.
  • Make sure you have access to water and clean glasses.
  • Be on time.

Caring for the Applicant

When a candidate feels at ease during the interview process, it increases the effectiveness of the interview. Remember, that a lot of our communication is non-verbal and it’s often the simple actions that really put a candidate at ease. Establishing a successful interview environment includes:

  • Greeting the candidate warmly with a firm handshake and maintaining eye contact
  • Introducing yourself and the other panel members
  • Providing the candidate with an overview of the organisation and the role, as well as explaining the next steps
  • Mentioning the selection techniques you will be using
  • Give them your full attention and focus – turn off your phone and avoid interruptions

Although it’s important to stay focused on the applicant’s level of competence and ability to fulfil the requirements of the job, don’t forget about the creating a conversation. Rushing through a standardised set of questions without taking the time to build rapport, will only make the interviewee uncomfortable. However, with a conversational approach, you’ll benefit from open communication and more relaxed body language.

Independent Assessment and Marking

During the interview, it is suggested that all panel members should be assessing the candidates individually and ranking these answers accordingly. A simple 1-5 rating scale can be applied, with the scores tallied at the completion of the interview to ensure an objective assessment of the candidate’s responses are formed.

1 = Much less than acceptable. Applicant did not at all demonstrate a suitable response to the question.

2 = Less than acceptable. Applicant insufficiently demonstrated a suitable response to the question.

3 = Acceptable. Applicant demonstrated a sufficient response to the question.

4 = More than acceptable. Applicant demonstrated detailed evidence in response to the question.

5 = Much more than acceptable. Applicant significantly demonstrated their capability in response to the question.


Interviews are a critical aspect of the recruitment process and with proper planning and attention, you’ll ensure that you’re hiring the right people, first time. For further information on the best practices for interviewing candidates, or for other interview tips, get in touch with the team at Harrison McMillan.