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Top Tips for Interviewing

The purpose of an interview is for an employer to learn as much as they can about the candidate so they can assess their suitability. It’s a chance to look at ability, based on experience, as well as their personality, to see if the candidate will fit in with your company culture and be able to perform the job well.

A good interviewer will help the candidate to relax, creating an easy rapport, as this will help the candidate portray their true selves. Unfortunately, it is too common for a candidate to feel uncomfortable and not perform well in an interview, when they are actually highly suited to the job.

We have prepared a list of do’s and don’ts to help guide you in your interviewing techniques.


  • Do pre-screen the candidate before interview checking qualifications, accreditations and right to work. This can save you a lot of time in the long run. If you don’t have the time to do in-house, make sure you ask your recruitment agency to do this for you.
  • Do make sure you have a full understanding of the job role, even if you are not going to be directly managing the role. This will help when the candidate asks you questions.
  • Do prepare by making sure you have all the information on the candidate to take to the interview e.g. CV, cover letter, application form
  • Do tell the candidate what the format of the interview will be e.g. if there are 2 parts to the interview with a test; what the timeframe will be; when they can ask questions. This will help to set them at ease as they know what to expect.
  • Do ask open, competency based questions as these will require the candidate to talk about real experiences and their results. This evidence is useful in assessing their suitability.


  • Make sure you know what qualifies as a lawful and unlawful question in an interview e.g. do not ask questions on religion, ethnicity, marital status, children, age, illness etc…Of course if the candidate offers that information that is fine, but you should not use it as an assessment of their suitability for the role.
  • A closed question can be useful to establish the facts e.g. what class degree did you get or how many years management experience do you have, BUT try not to ask too many closed questions as they could leave you unsure of details and experience.
  • Do not use fantasy style questions that have nothing to do with the job e.g. If you could be an animal which would you be. These questions will not help you to find the best candidate.
  • Try not to just stick to questions based on their CV. Instead encourage them to give you more detail and examples in various scenarios to prove their experience e.g. “Tell me about a time when you solved a problem”, or “Describe a project you worked on that involved working in a team, and what was your individual contribution.”

How to deal with difficult interviews

Quiet candidates: You could approach a quiet candidate by starting the interview softly, introducing ice-breakers, and asking easy questions based on their CV. As the candidate relaxes you could then ask more open and probing questions.

Chatty candidates: At the other end of the spectrum is the overly talkative candidate. To help gain some control, ask more specific closed questions. You could also use “tell me briefly about…” in your open questions.

Vague candidates: Some candidates forget that they need to provide evidence in an interview and so their answers appear weak, despite them having strong experience. Bring out the best answers by asking them to give specific examples and also results of the work they have done, or skills they claim to have.

Unfocused candidates: Sometimes a candidate will find it hard to focus on the full question, especially on the longer, competency-based questions. If they lose their focus you can help by repeating the question, rephrasing it or explaining it in context to make it simpler.

Click here to download this advice in a PDF.

If you have a recruitment requirement that you require help with, please call us for an informal chat on 01925 907000 or email recruit@firstrg.com


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