Human Resources
Office: (417) 873-7434
Fax: (417) 873-6987

Conducting the Interview

Guidelines and strategies for the interview

The interviewer should be well prepared and knowledgeable on the university’s interviewing and hiring practices. In structuring the interview, interviewers may mistakenly use a job candidate’s resume as a guide for structuring the interview. Generally, the resume only provides information the candidate wants to reveal. Following the resume throughout the interviewing process allows the candidate to control the interview, not the interviewer. Interviewers must establish a set structure, to be applied consistently, for each interview to accomplish efficient and accurate interviews. The following outline should be helpful:

Establish Rapport -- Set the Tone
Interviewers may set the tone of the interview by first greeting then candidate and then engaging the candidate in casual conversation to create a calm and relaxed atmosphere. Comfortable and secure candidates may communicate more honestly.

  • Help the candidate relax with brief, casual conversation
  • Maintain appropriate eye contact
  • Listen sympathetically
  • Avoid direct criticism
  • Reassure the candidate after an awkward disclosure by commending the openness, honesty, and willingness to face up to a problem
  • Remain neutral; do not speak approvingly of questionable conduct

Interviewers may ask about the person’s hobbies, interests, travel, or city of residence. However, interviewers must remember to avoid sensitive areas like children, marital status, or church activities. The formal interview may then begin through a simple transition question, such as, “What do you know about the school?” or “How did you hear about this job opening?”

Control the Interview

  • Keep the purpose of the interview clearly in mind
  • Decide in advance what questions to raise in light of the job requirements and the candidate’s resume
  • Keep to the planned agenda and allocate time appropriately
  • Politely return to the original question if the candidate’s answer was evasive
  • Persuade the candidate to elaborate on suggestive or incomplete responses by:
    • Asking follow-up questions
    • Repeating or summarizing the candidate’s statements in a questioning tone
    • Maintaining silence
  • Make smooth transitions from one topic to another

Provide an Overview
Interviewers should provide the candidate with an overview of the interview process. For example, how the interview will proceed and what will be covered – job experience, education, interests. Additionally, a comprehensive overview will explain that after discussing the candidate’s background, the interviewer will ask for information relative to the about the job, explain the organization, and answer any questions the candidate might have.

Discuss Work Experience and Education
In discussing a candidate’s work experience and education, the interviewer should ask prepared questions first, following up any responses that deserve further inquiry.

Good notes should be taken in regard to the discussion of job qualifications to document the screening process.

Candidate’s Interests and Self-Assessment
After discussing a candidate’s education and work experience, the interviewer may then ask a few questions about a candidate’s activities and interests to get a broader perspective. Candidates may also be asked to provide a self-assessment, summarizing personal and professional strengths, as well as “developmental needs” or qualities that the individual might want to change or improve.

Review the Job
Interviewers would be wise to not discuss details of the job until the interview has covered a candidate’s qualifications; otherwise, a candidate may exaggerate certain skills required by the position. An interviewer should review the organization, the job, the salary, location, and any other pertinent data.

Interviewers should be careful to limit comments to the specific facts about the job as it currently exists.

Close the Interview
In the final portion of the interview, the candidate should be given an opportunity to ask questions about the organization and the job. Interviewers should thank the candidate for the time spent on the interview and review the next steps in the hiring process.

Uniformity of Interviews
Interviewers must make sure all candidates for a position are given the opportunity to answer the same questions and that all questions are job-related and nondiscriminatory. Interviewers should not deviate from the prepared questions, but can ask appropriate follow up questions that may differ from candidate to candidate.

Return to Staff Recruitment & Hiring