About this book

On the other side of the table - Plan and execute excellent interviews to get the right person for the job

As an experienced managerial behavior consultant, Stephen Walker, co-founder of Motivation Matters, is passionate about helping to improve organizational performance in businesses. In this quick and practical book, Stephen takes you through the entire process of an interview, from getting to know the specifications of the role, to discussing the results and reaching a final decision with other stakeholders. Being able to build a strong team around you is essential to a business' success and to do this you need to interview effectively and confidently. This is not only essential for prospective employees; it is also an important managerial skill.

Walking you through the interview process from the initial planning and preparation to meeting and greeting the interviewee, this book provides you with everything you need to know to hire for success. With templates, examples, and tips on how to incorporate cutting edge techniques such as NLP into your interviewing technique, The Manager’s Guide to Conducting Your First Interview, is the perfect companion to managers new and old, giving you a fresh perspective on effective interviewing.

Publication date:
September 2014


Chapter 1. Before the Interview – Preparing and Practicing

In this chapter, I will teach you about the information gathering and confidence building tools you need to excel as an interviewer. You can prepare and practice these topics to perfection before you interview anyone. You will learn how to do the following:

  • Determine the job specification

  • Gather information from HR

  • Manage the interview

  • Keep the interview legal

  • Prepare yourself for the interview

  • Prepare the opening introductions

  • Be your best in the interview—performance mode

  • Prepare the candidate for interview

By the end of this chapter, you will have worked through the preparations you need to be confident and at ease when conducting an interview. Knowing what to do is not the same as being able to do it though! This chapter is the foundation for the interviewing skills we are developing in you. A solid foundation is essential before moving to the next stage. I want you to do the preparation, put in the work, and keep practicing until you are perfect in each of the fifteen topics in this chapter.

As a gray-haired ex-manager, I can tell you that my focus is always on performance, that of both myself and my team. A good interviewer will create a job opportunity that is a perfect match for the chosen candidate. I will try to pass on my experience of interviewing as clearly as possible, but most importantly, I want you to focus on your own performance as an interviewer. If you are focused and committed to improving and developing your skills, you will become a noticeably good interviewer—you will wow people with your interviewing skills!

If you're ready, let's make a start.


Determining the job specification

The first consideration is whether the job or jobs you are looking to fill are needed for:

  • A new team duplicating an existing team

  • An addition to an existing team

  • A new function in an existing team

  • A new team with a new function

  • A demand fluctuation

A discussion with your manager is needed to find out what is required.

The simplest situation—duplicating an existing team—suggests the job and skills specifications, interview questions, and scoring methodology that Human Resources (HR) previously determined are still relevant and useable.

If you are looking to recruit an additional team member for a team that has an unchanged role to perform, you must be aware of the strengths and weaknesses of the team, including yourself. The people in the team, and those coming for interview, are not Lego bricks. When you try to assemble them into a working team, you will discover different skill sets, which means the new recruits have to fill in the weaknesses as well as offer the basic skills.

This will require the score sheet to be reviewed in light of the emphasized need for certain skills; those skills may need a higher weighting factor. You will learn about the score sheets in Chapter 3, Conducting the Interview – Questioning and Scoring.

Sometimes you may be looking to expand the capability of an existing team and are looking for new skills. This can come about through innovation in the team's processes, a future need, or your manager's experience of how the present team operates.

This new capability may need new skills, and the HR information will need to be modified to suit this new requirement. Apart from understanding the existing team, you will need to incorporate the new skills requirement into the interview documentation in cooperation with HR.

Finally, a new team with a new function will need all the job and skills specifications, interview questions, and scoring methodology to be created anew.

You may also be recruiting to cover demand fluctuations leading to lower-than-acceptable service levels. An understanding of the demand and team capacity fluctuations is essential to recruit to sustain team performance in those situations.

Whatever is the reason for the recruitment, you can explore the issues through a discussion with your manager and then ensure that HR amends the documentation as needed.


Gathering information from Human Resources

The first step is to collect the basic information about the position you are trying to fill from HR.

Interviews are stressful, not only for the candidate being interviewed, but for you as the interviewer as well! You want to be perfectly prepared for conducting the interview to avoid any embarrassing mistakes. Your performance as an interviewer is also key to putting the candidate at ease. A nervous candidate will not interview well. You don't want to worry that the basic information is wrong. As a manager, you will need to exude confidence to keep your staff content and working towards your objectives. That confidence comes from making sure you have as few surprises as possible, and that comes from careful and thorough preparation.

HR should provide you with the following documents:

  • The functional, technical, and business specifications for the job

  • The candidate pack

  • The interview questions with follow up questions

Check that the job specification and the candidate pack are correct. The requirements may have changed since having a discussion with your manager, for instance, the skills required for the job that you're interviewing for may have been altered; this could also apply to the location, salary range, and so on. In some cases, HR may not have picked up on those changes. You don't want to find out that you and your HR representative are not on the same page about the job with respect to the questions in the interview! The entire interview process could be a waste of time if the information is wrong.

HR usually advertises or searches for candidates. Ask to look at the advert and/or candidate specification to check if it is suitable. Most often, HR will handle the queries and correspondence with candidates.

To choose who to interview, you need to have a clear specification of what the essential attributes of the job are. I suggest you set a specification that gives you a handful of interviews.

Your organization may also research the candidates' social media profiles. Facebook and LinkedIn are the more obvious channels to get a background picture of a candidate.

We will cover illegal discrimination later in this chapter, but the use of background information, unless agreed to or declared by the candidate, is fraught with difficulty as the law is still being established case by case. It would be sensible to have a permission checkbox on the application form to gain the candidate's permission to do the social media profiling.



Make a note of the decision making criteria used to select candidates for interview in case you have to show the decision was not founded on illegal discrimination.

When it is time to hold the interview, you will have the candidate's application form, curriculum vitae, letters, and e-mails to consider.

Check with HR what the arrangements are for the interviews. It is usually HR who collects the candidates from your reception, gives health and safety information, offers the usual facilities, and then show them out after the interview. You must make sure these arrangements have been made before the candidates arrive!

Next, we will find out how you can create an interview experience that reflects your values. This marks you out as different (in a good way!) and starts the process of building your managerial authority with the candidates and your organization.


Managing the interview

The interview has to be managed with respect to time, getting enough information from the candidate to make a decision, and to keep the interview on topic.

It is very easy to get sidetracked by an interesting candidate and run out of time.

This is one of the most difficult tasks for a new manager, so we are going to work through some techniques you need to prepare to help you manage the interview.

Specifically, we will learn how to do the following:

  • Arrange the interview room

  • Manage the sequence of questions

  • Create a timetable and stick to it

It was once thought clever to arrange the interview room to place the candidate at a disadvantage. Later in this chapter, we will work through the need and means to relax the candidate to make them communicate freely. An interview is a discussion, not an interrogation.

I want you to make sure the interview room meets the following points:

  • Do not seat the interviewers so the candidate has to look from side to side to see their faces. Keep the interview as conversational as possible.

  • Seat the candidate within normal conversation distance.

  • Try to avoid having a barrier between you. You may feel a desk is appropriate, but avoid things like open laptops and excessive amounts of paper.

  • Don't seat the interview panel in front of a window so the candidate struggles to see the facial gestures.

  • Seat everyone at the same height.

Interviews sometimes take place in small offices that are ill-equipped to seat everyone you have on your interviewing panel. If you need a bigger office to hold the interviews, go and get one.



You may have learnt by now that I want you to develop your own managerial style, your own personal brand. This is part of your development as a new manager. I want people to know what you stand for, what your values are, what makes you special.

This does not mean you can be a pain in the backside by insisting on something that doesn't matter. It means you will insist on things being done properly. By properly, I mean the way you want them done.

Next, you need to become familiar with the interview questions and how they are used to gather evidence to judge the candidate's match to the job requirements.

The interview structure

At this point, you should have already checked that the job and skillset specifications are correct. Also, you should have organized who will ask what, when, and how in the interview.

Now you need to understand how the interview questions should be asked to the candidate to describe his or her skills. The follow up questions are used to clarify the strength of those skills.



Two to four interviewers are typical for any job interview. Each interviewer asks a series of three to five questions, with follow up questions as needed.

Start with open ended questions and, if necessary, follow up with more closed questions to get a definite answer. For example, consider employing a structure similar to the following:

  • Tell me about a time when you (for example) wrote creatively?

  • Can you give me an example of the rules and guidance you had to follow?

  • What did you do to adopt those rules and guidance?

You can dig down and judge the candidate's degree of skill by their answers:

  • HR will give you the questions and score sheet.

  • Work through every question and its follow up to understand what is being asked. Think about what the best possible response to each question would be.

  • Decide on the minimum level for each skill the job requires.

Remember, we talked about making the interview as near to a conversation as possible. Schedule sufficient time for the level of detail you want; nothing destroys the rapport and communication in an interview as quickly as running out of time.

Managing the timetable

As a new manager, you may not have had many opportunities to plan yet. You should plan out the timetable of the interview.

A plan is not a set of definite instructions. It will say your introduction of the organization will last for around two minutes (or whatever), not that you have to stop talking after two minutes. You can be quite sure of how long your presentations will take because you will have practiced it and measured the time required.

You can judge how long the questions will take and how many questions will be asked. You can't know how long the candidate's replies will be, but you can make a good estimation. It is a good idea to state the time you have allowed for the interview when explaining the interview process to the candidate.

You can measure the progress the interview is making and compare it to the planned times. You will have the chance to review your planned times after conducting a few interviews as you will have real data to modify your plan.

There should always be some slack time between interviews. The interviewers will need to use that time to do the following:

  • Finish marking the score sheets and any notes (revisit the discrimination section in this chapter if you have forgotten the rules)

  • Put away (out of the candidate's eyesight) the previous candidate's documentation

  • Take a short comfort break and drink some water

  • Refresh their minds about the next candidate by reading through the documentation

When you are planning your timetable, you should be aware that this slack time can be used as a buffer if the interview does overrun. It is very bad practice to make a candidate wait because you haven't planned the timetable properly! The candidate is not going to be impressed by your management, which is not a good start to a manager-subordinate relationship.

Most management training includes planning. As a new manager, you need to learn the difference between theory and practice. To help you cross that divide, we are going to use an interview planning template. I can't know what your precise interview needs are, so the template includes a lot of variables.

Remember to be as accurate as possible with regard to the known tasks, such as your introductions. Carefully estimate how long the other tasks need.

We'll work through the planning now as follows:

  1. Fetching the candidate and seating them in the interview room: It is a good idea for you to go and time how long this takes. Record the time.

  2. Casual conversation to settle the candidate: This casual conversation begins the process of your understanding of the candidate. The conversation should be about trivialities not connected to the job. You can ask about the candidate's journey but avoid any comment that suggests a difficult journey is a negative on the candidate's score. You can talk about a significant recent event: sport, weather, the Stock Exchange, celebrity gossip. Avoid any topic that relates to the job as you are not interviewing yet. There is a section on building rapport near the end of this chapter.

    I suggest a time between one and two minutes for this, depending on your organization's practice. The candidate settling time you need depends on the candidate's nervousness. You will need to be prepared to start the interview if the candidate seems unable to settle. Estimate your time for this settling and then refine it through experience.

  3. Introducing the interviewers: Practice the introduction of the interviewers by saying out loud what you will say to the candidate. It is important to speak it and time it as we talk twice as fast in our heads. You might introduce the interview panel by giving each person's name and job function. For example—"Can I introduce Ms. Smith and Mr. Jones of HR and myself, John Brown, the manager of the position we are interviewing for today." Prepare and time your interviewer introductions. Record the time.

  4. Explain the interview process: This is a pre-prepared speech, so you will know how long this takes to deliver. Record the time.

  5. Ask if the candidate has any questions about the interview process: If you have done a good job of explaining the process, there should not be any questions. If candidates frequently ask similar questions, you should add the points to your speech. I suggest you allow 30 seconds for a candidate's questions until your interview experience brings better information. It is always a good idea to reflect on your interviews to make changes to improve the process. However, it is inadvisable to change the interview process in the middle of a cycle of interviews. You should always interview following one standard process to avoid accusations of discrimination. If you decide to improve the interview process, do it between cycles.

    Some organizations video their interviews, but ensure the candidates are informed of this practice. Alternatively, you may include a note taker in addition to the interview panel. You will be surprised how difficult it is to recall details of a candidate's responses at the end of a long day's interviewing.

  6. Introducing the organization and the job: This is a prepared speech, so you know exactly how long this will take. Record the time.

  7. Ask if the candidate has any questions about the job or the organization: Once again, if you have done a thorough job of explaining everything, there should not be any questions. Rewrite your speech if the same questions come up over and over. You need to make an estimate for the question time; I propose you allow 45 seconds in total.

  8. Ask the interview questions: We will learn more about questioning in Chapter 3, Conducting the Interview – Questioning and Scoring. You have a list of primary questions and follow up questions from HR. You have agreed who is asking what primary questions and in what sequence. In my experience, you do not need to ask the follow up questions in every case. You will find that the candidate will sometimes give a full answer that allows the interviewers to score that skill or experience. Unless it is organizational policy to ask all the questions of every candidate, which may stem from anti-discrimination legislation, I suggest you assume half the primary questions will need the follow up questions.

    As an example, say there are ten primary questions with two follow up questions each. You will ask ten primary and ten follow up questions. Say the questions out loud and time how long they take to ask. Record the time.

  9. Listen to the candidate's answers: This is a major variable that you cannot directly control. As a new manager, you need to find out about the response variation between people, and this is a big one. A candidate may just give an answer straight out. Alternatively, the candidate may think for 30 seconds or more. You will have to make a judgment on whether the candidate is still nervous or is carefully assembling a story. The primary interview questions are designed to encourage the candidate to give a full answer. Your follow up questions may be designed for an open-ended response or a simple yes or no answer. If the candidate has not made clear their experience in Excel spreadsheet design for example, you can ask, "Have you ever designed a spreadsheet?" Most candidates will give both quick and slow answers. It is usual for some of the answers to be probed more deeply. For example, the candidate may answer with, "We completed the project successfully." You will want to probe what "we" means and what the candidate did on the project team. Estimate how long their answers will be by answering the questions yourself. For 20 percent of the questions, allow time to ask three follow up questions. Say the words and time how long they take. Record the time you estimate for all the candidate's answers.

  10. Closing the interview: After the questions have been answered, it is polite to ask if the candidate has any questions. Estimate a time for this and sharpen the estimate through experience; I suggest you begin with three minutes.

  11. Escorting the candidate: After the interview is finished, the candidate needs to be escorted to reception or HR, or whatever your practice may be. Your time is precious at this critical stage, so please try and get someone else, not an interviewer, to take the candidate away. It will take time for the candidate to be taken away. Estimate the time and record it.

  12. Complete the score sheets and finish thinking: You need time to think about what you have just heard and to come to your conclusion on the scoring and any issues that still concern you. I will deal with scoring in the next chapter, but it is important that you are settled with your scoring before moving to the next candidate. As an inexperienced manager, you will be astonished how after a full day of interviews you can remember so little about individual candidates! When you are interviewing, you have all your senses on high alert and your mind racing to understand what is said, assess the candidate, and manage the timetable. It is an extremely exhausting task. If it isn't exhausting, you haven't been sufficiently engaged in the interview! As well as time to complete the scoring, you need time for a comfort break. I suggest you allow ten to fifteen minutes in total for this. You can always revise your timetable in light of your own experience.

  13. Make a timetable: Take the times you have recorded and make a timetable showing how many minutes each activity in the interview process should last.

You can then put in a few milestones to allow you to manage the interview. As an example, if the interview starts at 10am and the candidate settling and introductory speeches are estimated at fifteen minutes, then you have a milestone at 10.15am of when you should be starting to ask the interview questions.

Don't have too many or too few milestones. Spread them throughout the interview to give regular feedback of how the interview is progressing against your plan.

When you have the plan prepared, discuss it with the other interviewers so you all understand and agree what should happen.

Type it up and take a copy of the milestone plan to the interview. You have enough to do without trying to remember the plan.



Actors and actresses who achieve great stardom are so good that they seem to be natural. In reality, while they may be adorable, they are also perfectionists. They insist on take after take until every breath, every movement, every word is simply perfect. Now you are on the stage and should make your every performance perfect.

You shouldn't expect to make a perfect plan the first time, and neither should anyone else. I do expect you to revise the plan in light of your experience so it is near perfect after three or four interviews.

In the next section, you'll understand how the basis of selection has to comply with the law.


Keeping it legal

Local and national laws apply to employment and recruitment interviews. The laws prescribe what is allowed in an interview, and it is essential you understand what is and isn't legal.

For example, if you are interviewing several people in a day, it is often difficult to remember who said what. If you write "ginger hair" as a reminder on your paperwork, you are opening the door to a claim for discrimination.



Selecting someone through an interview is a form of discrimination. The reasons for your selection must be legitimate in every applicable case.

This isn't a reason to be over cautious. As I said earlier, preparation is the solid foundation which makes the manager, you, appear in control. Experienced managers have done this several times so will have the foundation. As a new manager, you can prepare and practice thoroughly and catch up on the experienced managers.

The anti-discrimination principles are simple enough even if the practice can be fuzzy around the edges. As a result, it's probably best if you simply avoid the edges.

Anti-discrimination laws vary from place to place, so you need to check the laws where you are. However, the basic principle is that you can discriminate for reasons relating to a candidate's ability to perform a task. You will measure this by asking questions and gauging the responses. What you must not do is assume a person's ability based on an observation or answer to a question about their life. You must not assume that just because I am 63 and overweight I don't have the ability to do a strenuous manual task. You must ask questions about my skill and performance of those tasks instead. To reveal my capability, ask about performance, not characteristics assumed to be linked to performance.

Search the Internet for "employment discrimination" to find more guidance about discrimination laws which apply to your location. Example sites are as follows:

To calm the candidate, you need to appear calm yourself. I spoke earlier about your performance being important. Remember, to the candidate, you are the organization, so you need to prepare yourself. The next section will help you do that.


Preparing yourself

Interviews are nerve-wracking, for both candidate and interviewer, until you are used to them. As a new manager, interviewing is something you don't have a lot of experience with yet. This may be your first conversation with your new team member, and you'll want to make a good first impression, so you need to prepare yourself enough to get out of the interview what you need to.

As a new manager, you need to develop the ability to perform at a moment's notice. You are in the spotlight. Perhaps you did some amateur dramatics? As kids, we all played make believe and adopted the stance and voice of our heroes and heroines. If that is what you have to do now, then find an appropriate role model and copy their behavior. You will develop your own style and your own brand in time.

You need to appear confident and not display symptoms of excessive nerves, which might include the following:

  • A flushed face

  • Trembling hands

  • A nervous stutter

  • Perspiring

  • A faltering voice

When you practice your 2-3 minute introduction in front of people, make sure you also test your ability to control your nerves.

Practice your greetings in front of a mirror. Check for the following:

  • A natural, welcoming smile

  • Smiling eyes

  • A steady gaze

  • A sensible positive handshake: neither limp nor crushing

  • A good form of words for the greeting: "Hello and welcome to..., my name is ..."

You should dress for the interview as you would dress for a meeting: relevant to your job, neither too smart nor too casual. First impressions endure, and you are a representative of your employer to the candidate. Dress and behave appropriately. Pay attention to the candidate; maintain eye contact and keep an open body posture, avoiding folded arms or legs. Switch off your cell phone and e-mail.

I have talked about the importance of performance quite a lot. The next section contains valuable tips on how to get into a high performance mindset when you need it, and conducting your first interview is exactly when you'll need it!


Preparing your opening speech

When you start the interview properly, to make sure your candidate feels at ease, prepare a 2-3 minute speech in the following format:

  1. Welcome the candidate

  2. Explain the purpose of the job

  3. Describe how the vacancy came about

  4. Tell them what your team is set up to do

  5. Give some background about the organization



In an interview, the candidate should be talking 80-90 percent of the time. So make sure you stick to 2-3 minutes!

Spend time writing out your speech (don't just do it in your head!) and practice it until you are word perfect. Practice saying it out loud; we speak faster in our heads.

Edit your speech mercilessly to give a taut, steady, but cheerful tone. I use the so what test. If it isn't immediately obvious what a word or phrase adds to the message, then edit it out. Aim to cut 20-30 percent of the words to leave plenty of space and a steady delivery. You don't want to rush the delivery.

Check the content of your speech with HR. You must avoid any declared bias that could be illegal. Your introductory speech could legally be part of the job offer. So, don't say my team will expand and everyone will get a promotion and a raise. Instead, say that you expect there may be promotion opportunities if things work out as you expect.

Test your speech on your friends and work colleagues. Ask them if it is accurate and has a friendly and welcoming tone.

You are now ready to begin understanding the structure of the interview.


Switching to performance mode

It would be wonderful, albeit boring, if life proceeded smoothly all the time. On the day of the interview, you intend to be well prepared, rested, up early, and in good form. What if you spill breakfast in your lap, jump a red light on the journey, and arrive late to find your manager waiting for you? A bad start to the day! All is not lost; you can learn to switch to "performance mode".

Have you observed how athletes take a minute to get into the zone before performing? Here is a mental trick I use when I have to perform and don't feel like it:

  1. Sit quietly and remember how you felt when you were in top form, and practice recalling those feelings.

  2. When you do, make a physical link to them.

  3. Choose a physical link that is discreet so you can trigger it when you are not alone.

  4. I make an O by digging my thumbnail into my right forefinger. Whatever your trigger, recall the feelings and jump into performance mode whenever you need it.

  5. Practice it so you can jump at any time.

The next step is to prepare the candidate, to relax them so they are ready to be interviewed.


Prepare the candidate

All this preparation is irrelevant if you cannot communicate with the candidate due to their being on edge, nervous, and uncomfortable. This section will show you how to prepare the candidate.

Use your interview experience

You remember how it feels. You are brought into the room and sit in front of several stern interviewers. Your blood is pounding so hard in your ears you can barely hear what they are saying! It is a waste of everyone's time if you can't settle the candidate.

An interview is an exchange of information. You need to manage the candidate's (as well as the interviewers') nerves and composure for best communication to ensure you get the best out of them and have all the information you need to make the right decision at the end of the process.

This is the start of your management career, and your manager expects you to perform. Your ability to select the right employee(s) will carry your ambition forward and be reflected in your department's performance. This is why working through this book is so important. It is never too early to set yourself apart as different from the rest.

Believe it or not, you have an advantage as a new manager that other interviewers may not have—you have very recently been interviewed for a new position yourself! Use this experience to improve your own interview technique. Make a list of what was good and bad about your interviews as a candidate.

Think about the following points:

  • Were you put at ease by the interviewer? Did the questions start before you had sat down? Did you feel so stressed you couldn't think or did the interviewer relax you?

  • Was the interview process explained? Were you told how long the interview would be, what would happen during and after?

  • Could you overhear the previous interview? Interviews should be private and neither overheard nor subjected to random conversation from nearby rooms or corridors.

  • Did you feel you were rushed and unable to answer fully? There is nothing worse than feeling you weren't allowed to give the full answer; clearly "they" had already made up their mind! Much better to feel you had all the time you needed.

  • Were you intimidated by the interviewers? You know the sort: weak managers who use their authority to bully. You won't allow this and will manage the interview responsibly.

  • Was the room set up poorly? Inappropriate chair, lighting, line of sight obstacles? The interview room is no place for interrogation tricks but a space for as free an exchange of information as possible.

Use your own list of good and bad experiences and discuss them with HR to agree ways to improve the interview experience you're about to give to your candidates. For HR, this is just another interview in a long series of interviews. For you, this is an early opportunity to show who you are, and why you were given the manager's job.

To settle the candidate in the interview, you need to build rapport to put them at ease. The next section shows you how.

Building rapport

On first greeting the candidate, ask a few rapport building questions such as the following:

  • Did you find us OK?

  • Did you have a good journey?

  • How was the traffic?

This normally takes a minute or two as the candidate is settling in the interview room.



If the candidate had a bad journey, do not ask if they will be able to get to work on time. This may be discriminatory.

Everyone tends to be nervous at first. The careful, thorough preparation you are doing will allow you to be confident, relaxed, and in control, so this conversation will be natural and welcoming. Be sure to make eye contact and use the normal nods and murmurs to demonstrate agreement in any normal conversation. Don't make the candidate feel you are just pretending to be interested in them. Use the conversation to relax them so they are able to answer the questions readily. Don't let the time run away though!

Make your own list of simple questions to build rapport and use them. You may find something in common with the candidate through their application: a college, children, or hobby perhaps.

We have now covered the basic preparation for interviewing. Before going on to the next chapter and learning some techniques of interviewing, please review the preparatory actions you need to complete in the following checklist.


Before you proceed to the next chapter, ensure you have carried out all the tasks specified in this chapter. You need to be able to answer yes to the following:

  • Have you discussed the job requirement with your manager to determine any change needed to the information?

  • Have you collected the job advert, candidate pack, and interview questions from HR?

  • Have you checked the job details and is the advertisement correct in every detail?

  • Is the candidate pack correct?

  • Have you agreed the interview structure and process with HR and the other interviewers?

  • Have you decided how you want the interview room to be arranged?

  • Have you worked through and measured or estimated how long each part of the interview should last?

  • Have you prepared a plan with milestones to help you manage the interview?

  • Have you written, learnt, and practiced the 2-3 minute introduction?

  • Have you got HR's approval for the content of your 2-3 minute introduction?

  • Do you understand how each interview question relates to a skill?

  • Do you understand how the follow up questions are used to seek more detailed explanations?

  • Do you understand your local Employment Discrimination laws?

  • Do you have your own nerves under control?

  • Have you decided how to dress for the interview?

  • Have you developed a performance mode, a trigger, and practiced it?

  • Have you identified the good and bad in your recent interview experiences?

  • Have you discussed with HR how to use your recent interview experiences?

  • Have you prepared and practiced your rapport building skills?

  • Have you completed everything on this list?

Be sure you are competent in the first 19 points mentioned previously. Tick them off one after another as you achieve them. Before you tick number 20, ask yourself if you feel fully prepared to delve into the technique of interviewing.



This first chapter is about planning for an interview. By preparing thoroughly and carefully, you should be feeling confident about conducting your first interview. When you understand the process and know what is going to happen in the interview, you will feel more comfortable going into the situation, which will enable you to perform at the top of your game.

Together, we are building a tower of knowledge and experience of how to interview. This chapter is the foundation. If you do not build a solid foundation, the tower will always be rickety!

When you have completed each step in this chapter, you will be ready to learn about the interview itself. You will be well prepared, confident, and competent. You will be happy with the planned style and tone of the interview.

The next chapter explains interview techniques, neuro-linguistic programming, and body language. As an interviewer, you need to have an understanding of these to perceive the full range of communications in the interview process. A skilful candidate could use these techniques to mislead. I won't let that happen to you.

When you are ready, I'll be waiting for you in Chapter 2, Starting the Interview – Greeting and Settling.

About the Author

  • Stephen W. Walker

    Stephen W. Walker has published numerous articles and speaks at various conferences. He has over 30 years of management experience in globally competitive sectors. He has interviewed and recruited dozens of people and shares his experience on how to choose the best candidate in this book.

    He co-founded Motivation Matters in 2004, which is a vehicle to deliver greater organizational performance, with his managerial behavior consultancy. He has worked for notable organizations such as Corning, De La Rue, and Buhler, and has been hired to help Philips, Lloyds TSB, and many others.

    His expertise is the managerial behavior that drives good team performance. Competent interviewing is a fundamental skill in the effective manager's portfolio of skills. Further information about him is available at www.motivationmatters.co.uk.

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The Manager's Guide to Conducting Interviews
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