How to structure an interview

As an interviewer, your job is to find out everything you can about the candidate. Your best chance of doing this in an effective, efficient, and legally compliant way is to take a structured approach to interview structure.

The interview is a structured discussion aimed at obtaining information about the skills and behavior of the candidate in the work environment. You should try to avoid making judgments while listening, as this could prevent you from hearing what is being said. Take notes: explain to the candidate that you will do it. If you are interviewing a colleague or business partner, we strongly recommend that you take turns asking questions and taking notes.

Best practice shows that the more relaxed and comfortable the candidate is, the more you will learn about them, so take a little time to calm them down before beginning the formal process.


Analyze the role you are holding and identify the key skills, abilities, competencies and past achievements that will lead to success in the role and identify the questions that will allow you to assess each candidate against them.

Take the time to prepare for the interview in advance. Review the application materials, including the resume and any application forms. Decide which jobs/experiences are most relevant to the target job.

Prepare your introductory questions:

o List any work/experience that is unclear to you or would like more information
o Note areas of interest and areas of concern that you would like to explore
o Be aware of any gaps in employment

Decide on the structure of the interview, for example:

o Probe areas of interest from the CV, resume and cover letter
o Behavioral questions
o Other areas of interest
To close

Decide questions ahead of time to ensure consistency of questions to all candidates. Use follow-up questions to probe which ones will clearly be different, but the main areas explored will be consistent and make selection much easier.

Opening of the interview

Greet the applicant, providing your name and title and those of the other interviewers involved.

Explain the purpose of the interview:

o To familiarize the interviewer and the applicant
o For more information on applicants’ backgrounds and experience
o To help the applicant understand the position and organization.

Describe the interview plan:

o Briefly review jobs/experiences
o Ask questions to get specific information about those jobs/experiences
o Respond to candidates’ questions about the position and the organization.
o Point out that both of you will get the information you need to make good decisions
o Indicate that you will take notes

Close the interview
o Ask them if they have any questions.
o Ask them if there is anything they would like to have said, or if they would like you to know that they did not feel they had an opportunity to say or convey
o Explain the next steps in the selection process (don’t overcommit on deadlines and ask the candidate to point out any issues with deadlines)
o Thank the applicant for the productive interview

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