Interviewing Tips

Interviewing Suggestions for Hiring Authorities

Every company conducts them, and candidates endure them. We’re speaking about interviews, of course. They are the most critical part of the hiring process, and the future of both the organization and the job candidate can rest on the outcome. Yet, for all their importance, far too many interviews are cobbled together instead of thoughtfully planned and carefully executed.
We’ve all heard stories of interviews that became fiascos for candidates and employers. While the following checklist will not guarantee a perfect interviewing process, it may help your organization avoid such a fiasco. If you have any further questions or comments, please don’t hesitate to contact your Sanford Rose Associates® – Norcross consultant.


  • Confirm the interview date and schedule with all concerned.
  • Clarify the role of each individual who will participate in the interviewing process. (Ideally, they should be top performers who can help “sell” the company to the candidate.)
  • In case of last-minute illness or travel, have at least two back-up interviewers.
  • Provide detailed information about each interviewer to your search consultant.
  • Designate a “Shepherd” (usually from the HR department) who will be responsible for guiding the candidate throughout the visit and keeping everyone on time.
  • Confirm travel and accommodation plans with your search consultant.
  • Make sure the candidate has received company literature well in advance.
  • Likewise, distribute information about the candidate well in advance.
  • If the candidate will arrive the night before, decide whether he or she will be met at the airport and/or taken to dinner.
  • If not, make sure to arrange adequate transportation for the candidate from the airport to the hotel.
  • If the candidate won’t be met, arrange for a fruit basket and/or welcome letter at the hotel. (Create a good first impression.)
  • Decide if someone will meet the candidate for breakfast. Arrange for either an individual or transportation service to pick him or her up for travel to your site. Communicate these plans to your search consultant and candidate.


  • Be sure the receptionist expects the candidate.
  • Have the Shepherd available to greet the candidate.
  • Schedule time apart from the interviewing process for the candidate to discuss benefits information with HR, complete an expense report and handle any other administrative matters.
  • Make luncheon plans. (Issues: private dining room, company cafeteria or local restaurant, social break or working lunch, friendly faces or interview panelists?)
  • Practice the Golden Rule and treat the candidate throughout the day as an honored guest.


Interviews are opportunities for companies to gain information and insight about candidates — and vice versa. That opportunity can be wasted by focusing on detail readily available from the resume itself (e.g., “What is your current position,” “What were your major accomplishments,” etc.), as opposed to learning what makes the candidate tick (e.g., “Tell me how you typically manage conflict”).

Interviews need not be stressful, but they should create opportunities to observe job-related performance attributes. Thus, the candidate for a public relations job might be asked to write a press release about the company’s most recent earnings report, while the candidate for a general-management position with frequent Board exposure might undergo questioning by a small group of people in a conference room to test his or her persuasiveness.

While planning for the interview, make sure to schedule adequate amounts of time for each interview as well as time for the candidate to reach each interview. If your organization believes in interview panels, assemble one that makes sense for the open position — e.g., the hiring manager, the hiring manager’s boss, a human resources professional and two or three people from other departments who interact frequently with the position.

To gain control of the interview process:

  • Determine the information you want about the candidate and don’t yet have.
  • Assign responsibility to specific interviewers for obtaining it.
  • Review prohibited questions under EEO and ADA guidelines. If you have any questions, contact your HR office or search consultant.
  • Structure one or two situations/assignments that allows the candidate to be observed “in action.”
  • Ensure that the candidate has ample opportunity to ask questions, and evaluate his/her inquisitiveness and insight.
  • Remind all interviewers that the impressions they create will form the candidate’s impression of the company itself (warm vs. aloof, decisive vs. indecisive, dynamic vs. static).
  • Encourage everyone to be a “salesman” by explaining something they like about their job, the company, the community or opportunities for future growth.
  • Avoid exclusionary questions, such as “Why should we consider you for this position?”


Candidates for certain positions require the top person’s blessing. In these situations:

  • Schedule the meeting, if at all possible, for late in the day.
  • Just before the interview, brief the Chief on general impressions thus far — along with any key questions to ask or selling points to make.
  • Cancel the interview if the candidate is bombing out.


  • Keep in mind that the candidate probably has a plane to catch which will take off at a particular time unless the company jet is standing by.
  • Thank the candidate for taking the time to visit you and assure him/her that they will hear from the company (or its search firm) in the very near future.
  • Avoid impromptu evaluations (e.g., “You’d be a real asset to our organization”) and on-the-spot job offers.
  • Have transportation standing by.


  • Obtain everyone’s evaluations, meet (if possible) with the interview panel as a group and reach a decision. (A negative decision should remove the candidate from further consideration. A positive decision, in some cases, may await one more round of interviews or the evaluation of two or three other finalists.)
  • Schedule time to review interview feedback with your search consultant. Also obtain any post-interview feedback from the candidate, as well as review any issues that need to be addressed (e.g., compensation, perks, title, responsibilities, etc.).
  • Be sensitive to particular needs, such as relocation assistance, spousal re-employment, etc.
  • Working closely with HR and your Sanford Rose Associates search consultant, construct an offer that is likely to “stick.”
  • Extend the offer orally through your Sanford Rose Associates search consultant, even though the company will confirm it in writing. (This allows minor adjustments to be made before the offer becomes concrete.)
  • Include any employment contract with the written offer.
  • Congratulate the candidate upon acceptance and thank the panel for a job well done.