Interviewing the Candidates

Suggestions for Interviewing Candidates

The Viscusi Group has done significant research on interviewing candidates and have found the following to be particularly useful:

Suggested Structure for Interviews1

1. Introduction 

Your first objective is to put the candidate at ease. Smile, be friendly, make eye contact. Use small talk, offer a compliment, and make sure the candidate is comfortable.

2. Take control, define objectives

Now you review the purpose of the interview and your plan for the conversation.  Mention the planned length of the interview.  State whether you prefer questions to be kept to the end or not. Clearly identify yourself and your position.

3. Questions

Work through your prepared set of questions. Attempt to be concise. Do not allow answers to run on excessively. Ask questions that reveal the applicant's poise, intelligence, experience, and communications skills.

4. Sell the opportunity 

Base your comments on the job description, but add your personal enthusiasm for the opportunity. Do not offer feedback on the candidate's apparent fit yet.

5. Answer questions and close

Offer candidates the opportunity to ask questions. Do not feel obliged to comment on sensitive areas. Start looking at your watch. End the interview on a positive note.

6. Post interview 

Allow time immediately after the interview to write up your notes while details are fresh. Be careful not to let an isolated response outweigh positive information and impressions.

1Credit: Rick Hornberger, President, Hornberger Management Co., a Delaware retainer firm serving the construction industry; Executive Recruiter News, May 1991.

25 Favorite Interview Questions2

1)    How do you perceive your early background and family experience to have impacted your career? 

2)    How has your personal background influenced what you are today, your career progression, your management and people style? 

3)    Where do you relate the best?  Up one level, down one level, or with peers? 

4)    How are you best managed? 

5)    How do you build a team under you? 

6)    What qualities have you liked or disliked in your bosses?  Why? 

7)    How do you evaluate the performance of your subordinates? 

8)    How do you show your anger and frustration? 

9)    Discuss the importance of your job vis-a-vis your family. 

10)   Have you ever been burned out? 

11)   How do you reward yourself for working hard?  How would you spend more time if you had it? 

12)   What are your current career prospects in your current company? 

13)   Tell me about your most recent interview. 

14)   According to your definition of success, how successful have you been? 

15)   Do you consider yourself lucky? 

16)   When and why have you fired people? 

17)   Have you made any mistakes during your career?  If so, what were they?  How did you fix them? 

18)   Let's talk about set-backs.  How have they affected you and your family? 

19)   Is there any pattern to critical feedback you tend to get from others? 

20)   What is the most adverse situation with which you have had to deal in your personal or professional life?  How did you deal with it?  What was the outcome? 

21)   Tell me about the events surrounding severely reprimanding someone. 

22)   If you were speaking tonight at the National Association of Manufacturers, which subject would you select that would enable the audience to see what is special about you as a business person? 

23)   What was the most difficult ethical decision you have had to make, and what was the outcome? 

24)   What is the difference between a good position and an excellent one? 

25)   Tell me how your approach to managing an organization has changed from the way it was ten years ago.

2Source: Jim Kennedy of Management Team Consultants, San Rafael, CA. (415) 459-4800; Executive Recruiter News, May 1993.