8 Guidelines For Conducting Effective Interviews

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated August 15, 2022

Published May 25, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

It's important to establish interview guidelines to ensure every candidate is comfortable and feels properly represented. Knowing which interview questions to avoid and how to develop an effective interview procedure can improve your prospects of hiring the right candidate for each position. If you are a hiring manager or human resources professional, you may want to learn more about interviewing. In this article, we cover guidelines for conducting interviews.

Related: 10 Best Practices for Streamlining Your Hiring Process

8 guidelines for conducting interviews

If you are looking to hire a new employee, you may conduct interviews to determine which candidates are right for your workplace. Interviews are useful for developing a relationship with candidates and determining if their personalities fit with your team. These are some guidelines you can follow when conducting interviews:

1. Establish position requirement priorities

Before you conduct interviews, determine the requirements you have for the position you're hiring for. Once you've established the position requirements, prioritize the requirements that are absolutely necessary and indicate which are preferred. It's important to stay flexible during the hiring process, as the best candidate may not meet all the pre-determined requirements and still be the right choice for the position.

Related: Q&A: How Long Does the Hiring Process Take?

2. Communicate with human resources

Human resources professionals are a great asset when screening and interviewing candidates. Once you've developed your interview materials, consider meeting with a human resources representative so they can review the information and provide feedback. For example, a human resources team member may be able to inform you if any of your questions may violate lawful interview conduct before you begin interviewing.

3. Put together a diverse hiring team

When interviewing potential employees, having a diverse hiring team can ensure fair assessment and make the candidates more comfortable with the process. You want to ensure that all involved parties feel that the hiring process is fair and that everyone feels welcome and represented. Consider assembling a hiring team using capable, diverse members of your staff to conduct interviews and make decisions during the hiring process.

4. Develop a welcoming environment

Your interview is more likely to be successful if you develop a welcoming, distraction-free environment in which to conduct it. The candidate should feel that you and your team are giving them full attention. Consider a room with few inward-facing windows and a door that you can shut during the interview. Avoid managing other business tasks while interviewing and ask questions to ensure the candidate is comfortable before beginning the interview.

Related: Cultural Fit In the Hiring Process: Definition and Benefits

5. Avoid asking personal or unfit questions

You want to get to know the potential employee through the interview process, but there are some questions that may be inappropriate to ask. Besides potentially making the candidate uncomfortable, certain interview questions may also be unlawful. These are some topics you should avoid asking about during your interviews:

  • Affiliation: Focus only on asking about applicable professional associations rather than about their membership or affiliations in groups or unions.

  • Age-related: Instead of asking your interviewee about their age or maturity, simply express to them that if you decide to hire them, they must provide documentation of being a legal adult.

  • Appearance: Rather than making comments about the candidate's appearance, focus on their abilities and experiences related to the position instead.

  • Citizenship: Though you may ask if the candidate can provide proof that they can legally work in the United States, you may not inquire into their nationality or citizenship information.

  • Disability: Though you may ask a candidate about their ability to perform work with or without reasonable accommodations, you may not ask them about any disabilities.

  • Drug use: You may ask candidates if they are currently using illegal drugs, but you cannot ask them about previous drug use or drug-related offenses.

  • Family status: You may want to avoid asking candidates questions about their children, but if they are interested in family-oriented conversation, you can listen and answer their questions.

  • Financial: Instead of asking the candidate about their financial status, you can ask the candidate about their skills and approaches to financial situations.

  • Gender: Though you may ask if the candidate has worked using other names, do not make assumptions about their gender. Always ask candidates for their preferred pronouns.

  • Race-related: You want to avoid questions about a candidate's race or color. Focus instead on their relevant skills and background.

  • Relationships: Although you may want to avoid questions about a candidate's current relationships or marital status, you can engage in a genuine conversation about their family if they offer the information.

  • Religion: You may ask about workdays the candidate may need off due for religious reasons, but you may not ask them about their religious beliefs.

6. Document the interview process

Documentation is important to protect yourself, your hiring team and the company you work for. Consider recording each interview using a tape or video recorder to ensure you have thorough documentation of each meeting. If you choose to record the interview, be sure to inform that candidate that you are doing so.

Consider taking notes during the meeting as well. Though a video or audio recording of the meeting can be useful, taking notes allows you to record your thoughts during the interview. You can then refer to them when reviewing the candidate's information during the hiring process.

Related: What Is a Candidate Profile in Hiring?

7. Maintain neutral body language

During an interview, it's possible that a candidate's responses may impress, disappoint or surprise you. It's important to maintain neutral non-verbal communication in these moments. For example, if something a candidate says surprises you, try to maintain neutral composure to ensure the candidate feels comfortable.

8. Ensure all questions are job-relevant

One of the most important interview guidelines to follow when developing your interview materials is to ensure that the interview questions are job-relevant. Be sure to avoid asking personal or unfit questions, but also create your questions to be job-related. Not only does this protect you and your hiring team from unlawful actions, but it can increase interview efficiency and make everybody involved more comfortable. To present yourself professionally, stay focused on the relevant aspects of the position.

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