How to run a successful interview process

How to run a successful interview process

How to run a successful interview process

The interview process is a thing that brings fear to the hearts of many, and not surprisingly so! It can be nerve-wracking to sit in front of people and try and win them over. But the interview is an undeniably important stage in the recruitment process, and getting it wrong can result in poor recruitment that will not only cost your business heavily in money, but in time.

But with a little thought in advance, you can avoid the usual pitfalls. Let’s go over some of the most important elements of the interview process, and some questions you need to ask yourself long before anyone steps over your doorstep.


How do you interview people? Do you have a set list of questions you want to ask? Do you interview one-to-one or as a panel? These are all important things to define before you even get someone to the interview stage.

Don’t think of the interview as separate from your usual activities. Match your behaviours and your style to that which you adopt every day. Remember, an interview is as much for the candidate to assess the business, as it is for you to assess them, so showing them who you are and exactly who you want to work with should be a key part of the process.

If your business culture is casual, is it right to be overly stiff and over-professional during the interview? Or would it be better to start now with the language and conversations you’d expect to have with a team member? Adopting the same style also has the benefit of seeing straight away how the candidate behaves under those circumstances.

How can you expect to try and understand how a candidate would behave within your business if you aren’t creating that environment during the interview?

How, who, where, when, why?

Putting some thought behind the details of how you’ll conduct the interview can be key to making sure you get it right. So, what matters here? The first thing that comes to mind is, of course, who is going to hold the interview. Often this is a line manager, and perhaps someone from HR. But consider including other people, such as a HR consultant, or someone from the same team as the role you are recruiting for who has a good insight into the day-to-day of the position.

Widening the pool for who you include in the interview process can benefit in several ways, not only giving a different insight, but a clearer view on team fit. If two people don’t get on in an interview, how are they going to work together every day?

You also have the benefit of developing your existing team by giving them the opportunity to be a part of the process. Just be careful you aren’t putting too many people on the panel. Remember, it’s an interview and not an interrogation! You want your candidate to feel comfortable.

Where are you going to hold your interviews? It might be as straightforward as booking a meeting room, but don’t forget first impressions mean a lot. Plan in advance where you’re going to hold your meeting, and think about if you want it to be within the workplace or elsewhere.

What are the best conditions for you to make the meeting as productive as possible? It’s important to ask yourself why you’ve made the decisions you have for how you’ll carry out your interview. Is it just because that’s how you think is should be done, or have you had a conscious thought to make it that way?


One of the worst things you could do is come along to an interview without being prepared. Sounds like advice for a candidate, right? But it’s just as important for you. Now I know you might have a pile of CVs on your desk and it can be difficult to find time to fully understand the candidate in front of you, but it’s really important to prepare so you can make sure you’re asking the right questions. Don’t step into that interview room without at least having read the CV and gathered your thoughts about it.

What to ask?

The sort of questions you ask people is key. Having a list of generic questions won’t tell you if the candidate can do the job you’re advertising, or if they’d fit well within the team. Use open ended questions that give the candidate the chance to think critically and come up with real world answers that will apply to the role you’re recruiting for.

You only have a certain amount of time to ask the questions you need, and the last thing you want is to come away thinking you’ve missed something. So, make sure all your questions give you the answers you need. This isn’t just about the initial questions you ask; the follow-up questions you ask can be just as, or even more, important. Are you clear on what you will ask when presented with certain types of answers?

Testing testing, 1, 2, 3

The interview doesn’t have to be all about the there and then. Think about giving the candidate a task in advance that they can prepare to go over at the interview. This is a brilliant way of seeing how they would handle a practical task that would be part of their everyday role.

Remember, whatever role you are recruiting for, preparation is key. Good preparation will help avoid poor recruitment, saving you both time and money in the long run. Consider my video on strengths-based recruitment and interviews:


Chew on this:

What does the term ‘successful interview’ mean to you?

Author: Safaraz Ali
My career began in the financial services sector and since 1999, I have been involved in the world of business. I am Head of Pathway Group, which is a workforce development solutions provider. Pathway Group specialise in apprenticeship training and recruitment. I also offer independent strategy, advice, and investment for a wide range of private business sector. These include: social care, education, training, and recruitment.