Open an Interview

Opening an interview is the most important part of the interview. It sets the tone for the rest of the interview. By preparing well and putting your candidate at ease, you can conduct a truly successful interview that will help you choose the best candidate.


Preparing Yourself

  1. Establish what you need in a candidate. Before starting interviews, you need to be clear about what you need in a candidate. You probably already have a list of qualifications. However, think about what other needs the company has. Maybe the company needs a real people-person or maybe you need someone who's very detail oriented. Having a clear vision will help focus the interview.[1]
  2. Write out your questions. Once you've established what you need, you can use that criteria to guide your questions. You'll need at least a couple of questions for each of the requirements you have for your candidate, though you may need as many as seven or eight questions for an important requirement.[2]
    • It's best to have one or two questions for each requirement that ask about the person's skills (positive questions). Then you need at least one question that asks how the candidate dealt with an issue in that area (negative questions).[2]
    • Try different kinds of questions. Sometimes, you want to just ask about the facts, such as "How many years of experience do you have in this field?" However, you can also ask hypothetical questions, which gives the candidate a chance to say how she would react in a certain situation, such as "What would be your reaction if a customer got in your face and started yelling?" Another type of question is a confrontational question, which puts the candidate intentionally on the spot, such as "Why would you be a good candidate for this job? You don't even have a college degree." The point of this type of question is to gauge a candidate's reaction to stress. Finally, you can also ask for examples of how the candidate acted in the past, such as "Talk about a time you successfully headed up a project. Why did it go well?"[2]
    • Have extra questions on hand. Interviews can cause people to go blank, so it's courteous to have other questions the person can answer.[2]
  3. Do your homework. That is, thoroughly read every resume well in advance of the interview. Look at it as a whole, and see where the candidate shines and where she doesn't. Also, take some time to find her on the internet.[3]
    • Doing so will mean you are at least somewhat acquainted with the candidate before she walks in the room. That way, you can ask better questions, and the interview will flow better, putting both of you at ease.[1]
  4. Dress appropriately. You are representing the company, so you want to look your best. Essentially, the interviewee will be making a judgment about your company based on how you present yourself. Wear professional clothing that fits in with your company's culture.[4]

Putting the Interviewee at Ease

  1. Be polite, friendly, and sincere. You show that you respect the candidate by being polite and open. Smile at her, and try to make her comfortable up front. Also, by establishing early on that you generally want to know more about her, you're likely to get more relevant information out of her.[5]
    • For instance, start by saying how delighted you are to meet the candidate with a smile and a handshake.[6]
  2. Establish common ground. Fortunately, you've already done your research, so you can do this step easily. For instance, find something you both like. If you both love the beach, try casually bringing it up.[5]
    • You don't need to let her know what you already know about her. Rather, say something along the lines of, "It's such beautiful weather. I'd love to get to the beach this weekend."
    • Don't be afraid of a little small talk. Take sometime to ask about the person's day or make a small joke about the hot weather.[4]
  3. State why you brought her in. Upfront, show that you are genuinely interested in her as a candidate. Begin by talking about why you brought her in.[4]
    • For instance, you could say, "I was really interested in the fact that you had attended a workshop on grant writing, and that's one of the reasons we brought you in.[5]
    • As an added bonus, you can use this time to offer her a compliment.
  4. Provide an introduction to the company. Give some basic information about the job, such as the duties and the hours the employee will be expected to work. Offer a salary range if you are allowed to do that upfront. Also, provide some background information on the company. You don't want to overwhelm the interviewee, but you do want to take a few minutes to provide some basic information.[7]

Beginning the Questions

  1. Begin with an easy question. You can try something like, "Where did you go to school?" Basically, you want to give the person something easy to help break the ice and ease off the tension.[8]
    • You could also ask other small questions about how the interviewee got there, such as "Did you have trouble finding us?" or "Have you been here before?"[9]
  2. Ask the interviewee about herself. This question is one of the most basic. It's open-ended for a reason; it gives the interviewee a chance to highlight key aspects of her skills and background. It also gives you a chance to assess how concise the candidate can be.[10]
    • You can phrase this question several ways, even as a statement. For instance, you could say "Tell me more about yourself," "Why did you apply for this job?" or "What do you think makes you a good candidate for this role?"
  3. Listen well. The interviewee can tell if you're not actually listening, and if she notices that you aren't, she's likely to get more nervous or stumble over her words. In addition, if you don't jump in as soon as she's spoken a few words, you give her a chance to think through her answer and provide added details.[1]
    • For instance, if she notes that she has a background in art, ask her how that could help her in this position.
    • Additionally, be sure to look at her when she's speaking. It's fine to jot down the occasional note, but try not to be writing the whole time.
  4. Gauge your questions by her answers. As you go along, don't be afraid to change your tactics a bit based on how she answers your question. For instance, you may need to ask for clarification, tweak a question a bit, or ask for more information overall.
    • For instance, maybe she already mentioned that she's had several jobs in your field and listed how they're relevant, which means you can delete any question that comes later about that topic.
    • If she says she pays attention to detail and you were planning on asking her how her skills fit the job, you could tweak the question a little by saying, "I heard you say you are detail-oriented. How do you think that will help you in this position?"

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Sources and Citations