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Tips on Interviewing a Potential Employee

by Autumn St. John, studioD

Even if conducting interviews isn’t something you usually do, you must do as professional a job as possible. You're not just assessing which candidate is the most qualified and the best fit for the role, but you're also representing your company to the interviewees -- and you want to represent it favorably. Keep in mind that hiring the wrong candidate is a costly proposition for a company, so you want to take the interviewing process seriously and make a strong effort to determine who is the best person for the job.


Prepare for your interviews as thoroughly as you would for any other work project. Ensure that you fully understand what the position for which you're conducting the interviews involves. If your employer has asked you to conduct the interviews by yourself, ask if you can have a second person interview the candidates as well so you can compare notes and opinions. Just before each interview, review the potential employee's resume. Take the resume with you into the interview, but also ask the candidate if she has a copy of her resume when you meet her. If she doesn't, it might indicate that she's not detail-orientated. Take a pen and paper with you into the interview room so you can make notes on each candidate.


You’re conducting a job interview, not a police interrogation. When the candidate enters the room and sits down, don’t immediately launch into the questions. Make small talk with the potential employee by asking how he is, if he found the place easily and what the weather was like during his journey. Spend some time telling the candidate more about the role and the company. All of this will put the individual at ease, making it more likely that you’ll see the candidate's actual personality -- and he'll be relaxed enough to answer your questions clearly and thoroughly without fumbling and hesitating because he's so nervous.


The purposes of your interview questions are to give you insight into the candidate's character and to give him the opportunity to explain why he's a good fit for the position, as well as identify his future goals. Know ahead of time what types of question you're going to ask. Fact-based questions such as "How many people did you manage in your last job?" demand quantifiable answers. You can use them to see if his answers match what he included on his resume and to also better understand the information included on his resume. A stress question such as "Why did you apply to this company, since you don't live in the area?" can help you see what the individual is like in a confrontational situation. Behavioral questions like "Tell me about a time when you had to deal with an aggressive customer" reveal the candidate's previous successes, which are typically indicators of future performance.

Body Language

You can tell a lot about a person not just from what they say, but how they conduct themselves. Watch a candidate's body language closely, both when she's answering questions and when she's listening to you ask them. As business communications author Karen Friedman explains on the Forbes website, if someone spends the whole time leaning back in her chair, it might indicate that she's bored by the interview, in which case she would most likely easily become bored with the job. Friedman also talks about positive body language, revealing that candidates who keep their hands in front of them and use them to gesture naturally are likely to be aware of the importance of appearing approachable and open in their professional lives. These candidates could well make friendly, helpful employees.

About the Author

Based in London, Autumn St. John has been writing career- and business-related articles since 2007. Her work has appeared in the "Guardian" and "Changing Careers" magazine. St. John holds a Master of Arts in Russian and East European literature and culture from University College London, as well as a Bachelor of Arts in modern history from the University of Oxford.

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