Top tips for interviewing candidates

Whether you’re hiring for a specific role or taking on new candidate registrations, a polished interviewing technique will help you collect key information and gain a better understanding of a candidate’s experience, skills and career goals.

We’ve pulled together our top interviewing tips to help you get the most out of your candidate interviews.


Be prepared: Nothing is more frustrating than taking a call from someone unprepared. Take the time to read through candidate CVs before you pick up the phone, and highlight information you want to explore in more detail and gain clarity on. Basing questions on these notes will help you get key information, so don’t just skim read. Also remember to look at the dates next to roles, and take note of any unexplained gaps or irregularities.

Use open questions: Encourage candidates to elaborate on points freely with little or no prompting from you. This will help you develop an understanding of their confidence in talking about their experience and may flag warning signs if a candidate is unable to provide information on a claimed skill or area of expertise. Open questions tend to start with ‘why’, ‘what’, ‘where’, ‘when’ and ‘how’.

Ask for specific examples: The best way to get exactly what you need is to ask for it. Follow up open questions with more specific ones which require greater detail and explanation about a skill, project or area of work. ‘Tell me about…’ is a good way of approaching specific questions through allowing a candidate to elaborate on a specific area. If a candidate shirts around a subject you should start to worry about the integrity of what their CV claims.

Avoid leading questions: Phrasing question in a way that solicits a particular answer is never a good way of getting a genuine reply. Remember, it’s not your job to make a candidate fit a person specification. Instead of asking questions such as: ‘this role requires someone with excellent organisation skills….’ ask a more open question focusing on a candidate’s organisation competency.

Remain in control: There’s always one candidate who will happily talk for hours about their career, or meander off topic half way through answering a question. Being able to hold control during the interview will make sure you get the information you need. If you feel like a candidate may be rambling, reassert control by asking a focused question to get things back on track.

Technical details: Don’t forget to ask about current earnings and their salary expectations, it’s always good to know the minimum a candidate will move for. Notice periods, imminent long holidays and interview availability are also good areas to cover before you end an interview.

IRP Professional Guides

If you found this helpful why not take a read of our Professional Guides to writing a winning job application, developing client relationships, and building your confidence.

One thought on “Top tips for interviewing candidates

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s