Recruiting – tips for successful interviews


Recruiting – tips for successful interviews

It’s a big decision to hire a new person to join your business so it’s imperative that you learn as much as possible about a potential candidate during the interview process. As an interview is typically for a limited period of time (opinions differ as to how long is ideal but a popular view is no longer than 45minutes) you need to use the time wisely. Once again, giving some thought to the process beforehand will stand you in good stead.

Here are some things to consider:

1. An interview should not be a police style interrogation. The purpose of an interview is to create a dialogue, or conversation so that you can learn as much as possible about your candidate. The best way to do that is to make the candidate feel comfortable. Think about the interview environment, is it too hot or too cold? Too visible to other employees? Offer the candidate a glass of water and kick off with a relaxed conversation about the weather or how they travelled to the interview.

2. Before you launch into your questions, provide a brief overview of the company and the role and give the candidate the opportunity to ask questions.

3. Be prepared. Read the candidate’s cover letter and resume thoroughly prior to the interview and check their social media profiles. Asking where the candidate studied when it’s there in their resume in black and white just makes you look disorganised and unprofessional.

4. Before the interview review the list of must have skills, education etc and draft your questions around those requirements. Use open ended questions rather than closed questions to elicit further information and specific examples of their skills and experience. For example:

– Can you tell me about a time when….?

– Can you describe for me how you…?


– Did you ever manage an OH &S incident?

Make sure to include some behavioural questions to gauge how they interact with other staff.

Whilst your aim is to facilitate a relaxed conversation make sure you maintain professionalism by avoiding personal questions or any questions which could be construed as discriminatory. For the current state of the law in Victoria relating to discrimination in employment go to

5. If the role requires a specific skill think creatively about what is going to be the best way for you to assess the candidate’s competency in that skill. For example: If the role is as a club manager and requires regular reporting of incidents on the premises you might ask them to draft a sample report for you or you would ask a graphic designer for samples of their work, or a beautician to demonstrate how they would do a facial.

6. Finally, remember that the interview is not about you but that you are the person’s first impression of the company. The interview is also an opportunity for them to learn more about the business and see whether they are interested in working for you. You should not be the one doing most of the talking. Listen carefully and be prepared to deviate from your set questions to pursue relevant information.

Be aware of your own values and judgments and leave all your preconceptions at the door.  Unconscious Bias is a significant problem in recruitment.

Good luck with your next recruit!

Sarah Tidey

Sarah Tidey is a former lawyer who specialises in HR and workplace dispute resolution.

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