The Do’s and Don’ts of conducting a job interview


Conducting a job interview is a major part of the recruitment process so it is imperative that you are set up to succeed in choosing the right candidate to avoid a potential bad hire (more information on the impact of bad hires can be found here).

The main goal of the job interview is to obtain information on the candidate’s ability to successfully perform the duties of a position so as an employer it is important to understand all aspects of the interview.

Interviewing a candidate for the first time can be an incredibly nervous experience as most employers have minimum training in the hiring process. Tasks such as writing the job advert, response handling, interviewing techniques, candidate evaluation, selection methods and formal job offers (including letters, contracts, induction etc.) will need to be carefully planned to ensure the process runs smoothly and successfully.

Here are our essential do's and don'ts for conducting a job interview:


DO: create comfortable interview environment

Bear in mind that a candidate who is a great fit for the role isn’t necessarily a candidate who is great in interviews.

This means your aim should be to make the candidate feel as relaxed as possible so it is worth thinking about the interview setting – small rooms can feel claustrophobic, while overly large rooms can make it difficult to establish rapport.

Simple gestures like politely introducing yourself, offering them a drink and can put the candidate at ease demonstrating consideration and thoughtfulness.


DO: gather information related to the vacancy

The overall goal is to determine if the applicant is capable of carrying out the job responsibilities so it is important to obtain detailed answers by using open-ended questions such as how, what, when, etc.

Make sure to delve deep into their CV and dissect all the useful information asking them to clarify on certain points when needed and ask role-specific questions to evaluate candidates’ knowledge and experience for example:

  • Soft skills
  • Situational
  • Behavioural
  • Career goals
  • Adaptability


DO: sell the position and your company

Remember that you’re there to interview the candidate but also consider that an interview is two way discussion and therefore, it is it important to talk about the benefits and culture of your company. For example:

  • What are the benefits of working for the company?
  • What credentials/accreditations/awards?
  • What are the growth prospects?


DO: prepare for the interview

Familiarise yourself with the candidates CV and understand what they’ve done throughout their working career before the interview takes place.

Also ensure that you know exactly what you want from the candidate in the role and that you know everything about the role offered in terms of responsibilities, career prospects, salary, benefits, and company culture.

Have questions prepared ahead of time that provide constructive responses but also remember to be flexible if the opportunity for an unscripted question is presented.


DO: clearly explain the interview/hiring process to the applicant

It is important to ensure that the applicant is fully aware of the hiring process to avoid any confusion. For example:

  • How many interviews stages are planned?
  • Who else the candidate will meet?
  • What role those people will play in the decision-making process?
  • What tests will be given or required?


DO: ask about reasonable adjustments

Under the Equal Opportunity Act 2010, reasonable adjustments are changes to the work environment made by the employer that allow employees with a disability to work safely and productively.

Reasonable adjustments should be considered at the start of the hiring process, but in terms of the interview itself common examples include:

  • Sign Language interpreter
  • Assistance if the test is on a computer
  • Wheelchair access to the premises
  • More time to complete assessments


DO: compare candidates afterwards

Use similar questions for every interviewee so you can better compare them and also agree the interview questions with all members of the panel beforehand.

Adopt a score matrix style system and compare what qualities are important for the position (this will differ depending on the organisation but examples include educational background, work experience, quality references technical skills, leadership, critical thinking and communication)


DON'T: ask personal or discriminatory questions

The hirer should be aware of all relevant employment law guidelines and ensure that all the interview questions comply. Avoid red flag topics related to personality characteristics including race, religion, age, ethnic background, gender and marital status.


DON'T: overpromise

Be honest and avoid making false promises on job details in regards to salary expectations, career prospects, employee benefits and other job details as this will leave you in a no-win situation.

Overpromising will result in the applicant looking elsewhere for a position as well as damage your company’s reputation and you could run the risk of fines or even prosecution.


DON'T: believe everything you read in a CV

It is common knowledge that more than half of CVs submitted contain false or inaccurate information and it is your responsibility to determine the facts during the interview.

Does the candidate have big gaps in their work history? This could indicate that they may be trying to omit a previous job because of a dismissal which would be flagged up when obtaining a reference.

Or has the candidate made a claim which has overstated their achievements? You will need to ask the candidate for specific details about a previous role or project asking them to expand wherever possible.


DON'T: talk too much

This is directly related to making the candidate feel comfortable so it is important not to cut them off when answering any questions and also give them plenty of time to respond.


DON'T allow first impressions get the better of you

In some instances you may meet a candidate who you’re keen to hire immediately, potentially ignoring evidence which contradicts that opinion. Don’t skip the process you have laid down – go through it to ensure that your initial impression is validated.


If you would like to speak to us in more detail about the interview process, or anything else recruitment related, please contact us on 01484 35 10 10 or at