Interview hints and tips for Employers

Nickie Elenor, blog

Everyone knows not to ask a female of child-bearing age when they plan to have children at an interview, right?! OK, well here are some other useful hints and tips for interviewing potential newbies for your team:


Before going into the interview, have your questions prepared and if there is more than one person interviewing, work out who is going to ask which questions.

You can use the job specification as the basis for your questions.

If there is something you have put as “desirable/essential” to the position, it would make sense to talk about their experience in that area.

The questions that are now a bit outdated and sometimes a bit too obvious (even cringeworthy!) include:

• What is your strength/weakness?
• Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
• If you were to be described as an animal what would it be?
• Why do you want to work for us?

Try to rephrase the questions:

• What are your top three criteria for your next job?
• Where does this job fit into your long-term career plan?
• We’re only a small business – how quickly would you be hoping to move up from this role?


Try to ask questions that are designed to explore what the candidate has done, and the skills that they have previously demonstrated.

They may take the form of:

• Tell me about a time when you….
• Can you tell me how you have gone about solving a particular problem that you have faced at work?

Whilst they may provide a useful insight into past experience, these questions have a drawback in that they don’t really enable you to explore potential. What a candidate has previously done may not translate to the job.  So it’s therefore helpful to use a few hypothetical, or problem-solving questions relevant to the role that you’re recruiting for:

• What do you hope to learn from this job?

• What parts of this job would push you outside of your comfort zone?

You may find it useful to weave personal awareness questions into the interview.  These questions are designed to explore the fit between the candidate’s needs and what the job and your company can offer. For example, you might ask the candidate to tell you what motivates them, or what strengths they would bring to the job.


Good questions of this type ask the candidate to rank their requirements or strengths. This enables you to assess how personally aware they are and also whether you can provide the necessary motivation and/or use their strengths.

Such questions might include:

• Please tell us, in descending order, the top five factors that keep you motivated on the job?
• Tell me about a past boss or manager who brought out the best in you. What did they do that particularly motivated/inspired you?
• What have recent appraisals and feedback suggested is an area for further work for you, and how are you addressing it?
• When you hit the sofa after work and reflect on your day, what parts of your day make you smile?


No matter how busy you are, take the time to thank people for the interest they have shown in working with you and provide some constructive feedback to those who were unsuccessful.  They might not be right for now but they could be in future.  Don’t burn your bridges with your rejection.
Recruiting the right people can be hard, and keeping them can be even harder. We are running a training course with the Chamber of Commerce on the 4th July 2017 on Recruitment, Retention and Succession Planning (Ageing Workforce). For more information and to book your place click here 


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