The Interview Process in a Nutshell

Have you ever thought about the full cost of hiring a new employee? There are the obvious costs: placing an ad, the wages spent on time looking at resumes and conducting interviews, pre-employment physical, reference checks.

Then there are the less obvious costs: wages for training time of both the trainer and new employee, lost productivity while the position is vacant, lost productivity while the new employee learns and gets up to speed, the cost of mistakes.

When you add it all up it definitely motivates you to minimize employee turnover, doesn’t it? And there are many strategies an employer can utilize to create an environment that inspires employee loyalty. But the first and most important step is making the right hiring decision.

A good interview process is about finding a great fit not just a warm body! It takes planning and an intentional process. Because, if you hire the wrong person then you are also dealing with the added costs of an ineffective team, lost productivity, wages spent on time dealing with employee issues, employee complaints, or worse yet, patient/customer complaints.

Becoming a great interviewer just takes some practice. Starting with a good process definitely helps. Here are some of the basic steps of a good solid interview.

Planning the Interview

Determine Required Skills

Mandatory Skills – Required by State or Federal Regulations

Require Special Schooling or Training

Can not be easily taught on the job

Determine Desired Behaviors/Performance Skills

Keep in mind that these may be harder to train than skills!

Examples include: Customer Oriented, Takes initiative, Creative

Review Resumes Looking for:

Required Skills/Education

Gaps in Service

Significant Achievements

Experience Related to the Job

Overall Appearance (spelling, grammar, etc.

Schedule Interviews with candidates who meet your requirements on paper allowing enough time for each.

Establish a Good Climate for the Interview

No Interruptions

Turn Phone Off

Shut Door and Alert Co-workers

Plan Enough Time

Build Rapport with the Candidate

Start the interview on time.

Help them put their best foot forward. Put them at ease. You don’t want to intimidate.

Begin with some general conversational questions. Ex. did you find us okay? How is the weather?

Explain how the interview will progress

Explain that you will be taking notes

Gather Information About the Candidate

Get clarification on any relevant skills, experience or education

Ask about any gaps in service

Do not ask any follow-up questions if they say something personal like – I was home with kids. Just move on.

Use Prepared Behavioral Questions

Ask at least one behavioral-based question for each identified performance skill

Allow Silence so that they have time to think

Tell them that it’s okay to take time to think before they answer.

If they seem flustered continue to reassure them quickly and then be silent.

A Behavioral-Based Question is based on the assumption that past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior. You are asking for specific examples of what the candidate has done – NOT what they WOULD do. Stay out of the woulds. Here is an example of a question you would ask to determine whether the candidate is customer service oriented: Tell me about a time when you went above and beyond to help a patient/customer.

In general, you are looking for the following pieces of information for each question:

What was the situation?

What did the candidate do?

What was the outcome?

Continue to ask until you get all three important pieces of information for each scenario.

Stay Away From Illegal or Inappropriate Questions or Topics

Do Not Ask About Marital Status

Not even, “what is your maiden name?” You can ask, “What is your full name?”

Do Not Ask About children or plans to have a family

Do Not Ask About religion, race, where they are from, family, age

You can ask if someone is 18 years or older if this is a job requirement but can not ask, “how old are you?”.

Do Not Ask About disabilities or physical or mental conditions.

You CAN ask – “Are you able to perform the duties of this job with our without accommodation?”

If there is a disability they can disclose it andask for a reasonable accommodation that would allow them to fulfill the job duties.

Do NotAsk About where someone is a citizen

You can ask if htey are legally eligible to work in the United States.

Do Not Ask About a Crime that is not relveant to the job

You can not consider a crime unless it directly impacts the ability to do the job. Example: Pharmacist can not have any drug conviction, Bank Teller can not have any convictions for theft.

Do Not Ask whether they have a car.

You can ask if there are any reasons why they may not be able to get to work on time each day. That is relevant to the job. You don’t care HOW they will get to work.

Basically, stick only to questions relevant to the job and you should be okay!

Control the Interview – don’t let the candidate hijack the interview. Keep on track and stop them if answers get too long, wordy or off track.

Seek Contrary Evidence – It is human nature to create a first impression. However, this impression is just your gut reaction. It is a part of the decision-making process but you don’t want to rely only on this. If you have a good or bad first impression look for contrary evidence to assure that you are open and looking for all valid information and not just information that supports your initial reaction to the candidate.

Give Information About

The Job - expectations, pay range, benefits, work schedules, work environment. Be as precise and honest as possible. This is your first chance to give them a clear picture of all that the job entails. You don’t want to bring in a new employee who has been given a false sense of the job. You want their decision to be based on as much factual information as possible. Remember, a good interview process is about finding a great fit not just a warm body! And accurate expectations of the job will help drive their satisfaction of the job. If there is a part of the job that is terrible but they knew it up front they will accept it much better than if you glossed over that part during the interview.

The Company: how long have you been in business? What’s great about it? What are the opportunities for growth? What is your mission?

The Decision Process: when can they expect to hear from you? How many more candidates are there?

Next Steps: will there be other interviews? Will they be called if they aren’t hired?

Answer any Questions that they have about the job, company, or interview process

If you follow these simple steps you should end the interview in a timely fashion having gathered the addtional that you need and will have provided specific clear information to your candidate so that they have a realistic picture of the job and your company.


Kirsten E. Ross brings a unique blend of energy and insight to her work with clients. Her clients efficiently gain self-awareness and create positive change that empowers leaders and improves communication and relationships. Her work creates productive, profitable workplaces. She is a Leadership & HR Coach with a Masters degree in Human Resource Management and a Senior Human Resource Certification. In addition, she brings more than 19 years of hands-on experience, has authored a varie...

Go Deeper | Website

Want More?

New Graphic
Subscriber Counter