Building an Interview Checklist

Fill in the blank: as a hiring manager or member of HR, you find the interview process to be ____________. The two words we hear most frequently are “fun” and “daunting,” both of which make sense to us.

On the fun side of things, it’s exciting to finally get beyond the resume and application material, and have a chance to meet your top candidates face to face.

During an interview, you can:

  • Discuss key aspects of a candidate’s career and experience.
  • Find out how they perceive their strengths and weaknesses.
  • Gain insight into their professional aptitude and attitude.
  • Form a picture of how the candidate will handle the job and add to your team.

But there’s definitely the daunting part too, especially when you consider all of the time, effort and capital that you’ve already put into filling your current job opening.

And with time-to-fill lasting more than 50 days for some companies, there’s no telling how exhausting and costly the process has been for you.

So, whether you find interviewing top candidates fun or daunting (or both), the good news is: you’re almost at the finish line. The less-than-good news: you’re not there yet.

And no matter how you feel about the interview process, one way to help get the most out of it is to start with an interview checklist. 

When people think of job interviews, it’s natural to consider the stress that a job candidate is under. But what about the stress on your side of the table? Our recent Spotlight, “The Interview Process,” focuses on the last phases of the hiring process, including interviews, background checks, and making a formal offer. Read it today.

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What’s an interview checklist?

In short, an interview checklist is a simple organization method that can help ensure two things:

  1. That each job candidate receives equal treatment during interviews, and
  2. That you gain the insight you need to move forward in your hiring workflow.

For many interviewers, the starting point of their interview checklist is their applicant tracking system (ATS), where they’ve been building a file on each of their top candidates. If you’ve also been using your ATS as a hub of information, then you can go back at any time to revisit resumes, scoring, answers to pre-interview questions, and any notes you made along the way. This is a great way to refresh your understanding of each candidate, review notes you made up to now, and even highlight specific skills, or answers they provided, as a way to help you kick off the interview.

Interview Checklist: 15 Quick To-dos

From there, an interview checklist can help you determine what the before, during and after phases will look like. Here are 15 quick “to-dos” to help you get started with your interview checklist.

Before the interview:

  1. Decide who needs to be involved in the interview. Will the hiring manager conduct interviews alone, or will you have multiple interviewers in the room?
  2. Choose a format for your interview. Will this be a formal interview with prepared questions, or will the interview be more informal? Research different types of interviews.
  3. If your interview involves an assessment? Ensure it is job related and valid. Prepare the paperwork and/or a computer so the interviewee can take their test.
  4. Prepare your questions by writing them out ahead of time.
  5. Share your questions with the people who will work with the new hire. See if they have any questions they would like to add.
  6. If it is a group interview, decide who will ask what questions. Prepare the interviewees by talking to them about what they should be listening for.
  7. Do you have more questions than time allows? Consider separating them into categories, with the ones you absolutely must ask at the top.

During the interview:  

  1. After introductions, explain what format the interview will follow. If the candidate will have time to ask questions at the end of the interview, let them know at the start.
  2. Keep things as conversational as possible, even if your interview takes the form of a question and answer session, or involves a skills assessment or problem-solving session. You probably don’t want your top job candidate to feel like they’re being interrogated.
  3. Pay close attention to what the interviewee says, and take notes throughout. What stands out about the way your job candidate answered a question? Did he or she say something that surprised you, or that you’ll want to return to before you wrap up?
  4. Leave space for your candidate to ask questions. This not only lets the candidate run the meeting for a bit, but also gives you a chance to see how comfortable they are doing so.
  5. Close with next steps. Your candidates will appreciate knowing what to expect next, whether you have a concrete timeline, or just a ballpark idea.

After the interview:

  1. Consider following up with a brief email that recaps the next steps. You can use this note to share a timeline, or reiterate any “asks” that may have come up during the interview.
  2. If you conducted a group interview, set time to gather and discuss your collective thoughts about the candidate.
  3. If you’ve been using your ATS as a hub of information, you and other members of your interview team can share notes and add reflections on the candidate.

Depending on your experience as an interviewer, as well as the nature of the position you’re filling, you might find some of the to-dos above more important or useful than others. Consider copying and pasting our list into your own interview checklist document, then adding or subtracting to it as you see fit. What’s most important is to find a process that helps you stay organized.

What keeps you organized?

We’d love to hear about your own interview checklist. Share this article on social media, #InterviewChecklist, and be sure to tag myStaffingPro.

 Most businesses recognize just how important the interview process is. It’s the moment to look beyond a candidate’s resume and portfolio, and get to the bottom of whether or not they’re the right fit. As part of your larger recruiting plan, myStaffingPro helps you keep things organized at every phase of your hiring workflow, including the interview. Contact a myStaffingPro representative to learn more.

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