How to conduct a job interview. A guide for recruiters.

How to conduct a job interview. A guide for recruiters.


  1. The selection interview: why it’s important?
  2. The perfect interview: what are the basic steps?
  3. Types of interviews
  4. What are the main types of interview?
  5. Find out how to optimise the time spent on interviews
  6. The Google method
  7. Interview bias and how to eliminate it 
  8. How do you eliminate Interview Bias?

Let’s take a look at the guidance for recruiters on how to conduct the best possible interviews for the most effective candidate selection.

During the recruitment process the interview is the phase that determines the choice of final candidate. To find out the best techniques for selecting candidates, it’s necessary for the recruiter to understand how to conduct a successful interview. Understanding the best questions to ask, knowing the selection techniques that are most frequently used, and understanding the different types of job interviews, are factors that make a difference in the recruitment process. Let’s see the guidance for how to conduct the best possible interviews

The selection interview: why it’s important?

The interview phase is very important because it determines the choice of the final hire. Therefore it is fundamental to understand how to conduct interviews in the best possible way and to understand what questions to ask to the candidate or, equally important, which questions not to ask to avoid negatively influencing the recruitment process. 

You should know in advance which questions you want to ask the candidate, to identify their best skills and to understand their motivations in looking for a new role. These are the principal elements to conduct a successful interview. It takes more than just analysing the technical skills of the candidate, it’s also essential to present the advantages and disadvantages of the company, the objectives of the role, and all the necessary details relative to the position for which the candidate is being chosen.

The candiate interview is a foundational phase on which the whole recruitment process is based and recruiters that do the final interview (or interviews in the case of bringing on more that one candidate) need to be able to structure the interview really well, specifically avoiding questions that could lead to unnecessary or unhelpful information. From straight forward phone interviews to in-person interviews, it’s important to understand and implement the best strategies, and, to do so, it might be useful to know how to schedule interviews and what questions every recruiter should ask in order to conduct a perfect interview. Let’s take a look.

The perfect interview: what are the basic steps?

To manage the best interviews and obtain the most efficient results, as a first step, it’s important to define the competencies and skills that are fundamental for the role, also the questions that will help to immediately exclude unsuitable candidates. It can be useful to prepare a selection sheet and to figure out a grading system for each answer (for example, from ‘excellent’ to ‘insufficient’). With ATS software such as In-recruiting you can add interview notes to share with the whole recruitment team in the company, this step can help a lot with standardising the recruitment process. 

From the company mission to the definition of the job description, from company benefits to selection strategies, it can be useful to draw up a checklist to define the standard steps (especially if you are a junior recruiter), to be used and repeated for each type of interview, for example:

  1. Candidate welcome: be sure to welcome the candidate to make them feel at ease.
  2. Introduce the team: by introducing the recruitment team (who will be conducting the interview and possible future interviews) it will help the candidate to understand who is following the recruitment process.
  3. Candidate motivation: during the interview it is useful to understand the candidate’s reasons for being interested in this specific role, also to understand their personal motivations in general and the factors that are stimulating for them in their work. This can include questions about how the candidate has managed particular situations in their previous roles.
  4. Details of the role: it is essential that the candidate understands the tasks and objectives included in the role, and to answer any questions or doubts that they might have.
  5. Company mission and history of the company: why should the candidate want to work for the company? Revealing the company values and philosophy can be very relevant, and often  a decisive factor for the candidate’s final decision.
  6. The workplace: “Where will I work?” “Who will I work with?” These are often the first questions that a candidate has when they are considering a new role. A really efficient recruitment process would include a ‘tour’ of the workplace, introducing the team and the people that make up the ‘daily life’ of the workplace.

How to select the recruitment team? In the phase of organising and setting up a job interview, in addition to choosing a large, clean and bright meeting room, it is essential to define a calendar of interviews, roles and tasks: when will the meetings with the selected candidates be held? Which and how many members of the HR team will need to be involved? How will they be involved, in what capacity?

Come condurre un colloquio di lavoro

Giving adequate notice and sending a confirmation email to candidates, and planning reminders for all company members who will be involved are necessary steps to conduct the ideal job interview. It’s also necessary to decide who will be involved, between members of the HR team and company executives (involving a company executive can have a strong influence on the candidate). Finally, it is useful to draw up (and of course respect) a calendar with the entire schedule of the hiring process. For this, the use of an ATS software such as In-recruiting can help to optimise time management by planning and programming the entire selection process: from multi-posting job announcements on multiple job portals to managing the announcement on the company career page, from automatic sorting of CVs according to pre-established criteria to social recruiting, each function of the recruitment software has been carefully developed to enhance the entire hiring process and improve the workflow of the recruitment team.

Types of interviews

What are the main types of interview?

Generally, interviews fall into different categories that may include the structure, the format, the interviewing team and the type of questions. The following table details the different types of interviews.

Unstructured interviewFace-to-face interview1:1 interview
Semi-structured interviewTelephone interviewRecruitment team
Structured interviewVideo interviewGroup interview
  1. Structured interviews

These types of interviews are structured meetings where the candidates are subjected to a series of standard questions, which the recruiters draw up in advance with a job interview evaluation grid that is identical for all candidates. This type of interview, on the one hand, is very effective because it delivers results in a short time and allows a higher number of hires in a relatively short time, on the other hand it leaves little room for “creativity” and the initiative of the staff recruiter

2. Unstructured interviews

Unstructured interviews are when the recruiters don’t have structured questions at hand, but instead base the interview on impressions and personal evaluation. They do not fall within the rigid limitations of the evaluation system but they are also generally considered less effective and, unlike structured interviews, have less legal relevance. 

3. Semi-structured interviews

Semi-structured interviews share aspects from the two previous types of interviews: the recruiters base the selection on both standardised questions and personal evaluation. 

As indicated in the table above, different Format and Teams are used for each hiring selection technique and, consequently, different questions arise depending on the situation.

The questions, generally, can be behavioural or situational questions or questions related to the actual corporate culture. From the answers it is possible to arrive at different evaluations: for example, behavioral questions can help to reveal how a candidate had behaved in the past in different situations and can give an idea of how they would react in similar situations. These are useful for testing leadership skills, teamwork skills or the level of initiative of the candidate.

Situational questions aim to reveal the reactions of the candidate in different work situations: for example, what would be the decision-making capacity of a candidate in front of a given situation? What are their problem solving skills? What are their managerial skills? How would a candidate define his or her goals? And how important are their goals?

Finally, cultural questions are used to find out if candidates could share (or not) the values ​​of the company and, consequently, how well they would integrate into the work environment. A candidate who shares the corporate values ​​will be more able to achieve goals effectively and achieve better results (as well as having a longer average time spent in the company).

As reported in the LinkedIn Talent Solutions study below on Global Recruiting Trends 2018, most selection processes are still based on traditional methods. Old school selection processes such as structured interviews, behavioural questions and telephone interviews are still widely used by companies, and still deliver effective results.

Grafico Linkedin Talent Solutions

1 – Global Recruiting Trends (Source: LinkedIn Talent Solutions)

It is interesting, however, to note, that recent years, new hiring techniques and research methods have been more widely used to guarantee excellent results. In the graph depicting the Global Recruiting Trends it’s possible to see, for example, how the evaluation of soft skills is an evaluation method that is often used by recruiters. Following CV screening by an ATS software, recruiters can move on to the evaluations of soft skills which are often the decisive factor for selecting the best candidates.

The ‘Job auditions’ method, on the other hand, requires the candidates to be paid to do an actual task, with the aim of assessing skills, competences and attitudes directly in the field.

During ‘Meetings in casual settings’ the interviews take place, for example, during a meal or non-traditional places, which can allow the candidate to be more genuine, spontaneous and at ease.

28% of companies worldwide use ‘Virtual reality assessments’, meaning they use a 3D environment to test the skills of the candidate.

18% use ‘Video interviews’ which, while having the advantage of speeding up the selection process and being able to evaluate candidates remotely, can present problems because the candidates must manage the interview in front of the camera.

Grafico Linkedin Talent Solutions

Precisely for this feature In-recruiting is the first ATS in Italy to integrate Skype Interviews into the software, a significant value-add that allows you to further automate the recruitment process. Within the platform, recruiters can completely manage the relationship with the candidate through organising physical interviews, live video interviews or scheduled video interviews, which can be shared with the entire recruiting team. 

Find out how to optimise the time spent on interviews

Problems often arise during the interview organisation phase due to scheduling and planning dates, requests from the recruitment team, managing candidates, and more. The Human Resources manager or the recruiter often require the involvement of other collaborators during the selection process, and it is necessary to manage resources without wasting anone’s time.

An ATS software such as In-recruiting allows you to quickly solve problems that may arise during the different phases of the selection process. In particular, you can:

  • set up custom templates for interview invitations
  • create a shared calendar where the recruiters and candidates can choose their preferred date and time for the interview. In addition, the calendar syncs to calendars with ics files (e.g. Google Outlook)
  • create synchronous and asynchronous video interviews
  • manage validated tests
  • send broadcast messages to candidates (for example to invite numerous candidates to an assessment center or to a group interview)
  • send automatic feedback to candidates. Simply by changing the candidate’s status they will automatically receive a notification email with feedback and any necessary update.

The Google method

After years of examining candidates and conducting a high numbers of interviews (and committing a huge amount of resource), Google has worked out how to reduce the time needed to select new candidates. They have determined that four interviews are a sufficient number to understand if a candidate would be a suitable hire for the company (see the graph).

Grafico Google

3 – Source:

This demonstrates that it can be important to centralise the selection process and carefully analyse the recruitment metrics in order to make improvements where necessary. 

Automating the selection process with an ATS software such as In-recruiting can be a good opportunity to optimise the search and selection process. Having a scheduled calendar available to look at the availability of the team to carry out the interviews means that interviews can be planned very quickly and saves time in the recruitment process.

Interview bias and how to eliminate it 

While evaluating a candidate, it often happens that factors other than simply the skills and abilities of a candidate can influence the final hiring choice. For example, social factors can involuntarily influence the decision as recruiters, who are vulnerable to prejudice, make decisions not entirely objectively. This is called Interview Bias: prejudice, subjectivity and influence on the part of the interviewers towards the candidates. In particular, there are four types of bias that recruiters should be aware of. Let’s find out what they are

  1. Confirmation bias. The confirmation bias essentially occurs when the interviewer tries to confirm a superficial impression about the candidate that has been formed prior to the interview. This can negate the objective assessments of the candidate’s real abilities.

2. Affective heuristics. The final decision about the candidate can be influenced by external and superficial evaluations such as race, cultural background, religion, and other aspects that are irrelevant for the accurate evaluation of the candidate in a given role. According to a study (Posthumous 2002), obesity was a characteristic that accounted for 35% of the hiring decision.

3. Anchoring. This occurs when a recruiter places a certain expectation on a candidate, called an “expectation anchor”. For example, candidates with a high expectation anchor are often evaluated more favorably than candidates with a low expectation anchor.

4. Intuition. Intuition is a fundamental element in the recruitment process because it influences a large part of the final decision. The inability to test the candidate on all areas of expertise means that intuition greatly affects the hiring process.

These four elements can unknowingly influence the interview phases and it is important to minimise their impact in favor of more objective decisions aimed more precisely at the technical skills of the candidates.

How do you eliminate Interview Bias?

Let’s see some possible actions.

  1. Spend more time on candidate assessments. It is crucial to spend more time taking notes, rereading and analysing the materials. Paying more attention to written criticisms and impressions will allow you to be more objective in making decisions.

2. Make hiring decisions on structured criteria. For more accurate assessments, it is important to conduct structured interviews that focus on hiring criteria related solely to work.

3. Use structured assessments. Carefully recording observations and expressing structured evaluations during selection interviews will favour more objective judgments.

4. Justify your decisions. Justifying and documenting the decisions made according to well-defined criteria will improve the accuracy of evaluating the candidate (for example, recruiters who use In-recruiting keep the history of all the evaluations within their ATS, also sharing it with colleagues).

In order to increase objectivity in the selection criteria of a candidate, it is also important to combine different forms of evaluation, (such as aptitude tests) in order to reach a higher level of objectivity during the recruitment process, and also cross-check the responses from the candidate.

As we have seen in the previous paragraphs, to select the best candidates it is very useful to experiment with different types of interviews. Structured interviews ensure that all candidates are asked the same questions, in a specific order, with the possibility of recording the results in a pre-established evaluation grid. Unstructured interviews make the selection process less rigid and more pleasant for the interviewers and the candidates. We have seen that there are no perfect questions but we have analysed how important it is to have a tracking system with an interview schedule and the evaluation of each individual candidate.

Our final advice? Experiment with different formats, organise your hiring selection process, automate the organisation of interviews and optimise workflow through the use of ATS software.

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